Educate to Dominate Your Competition


First off, check out this quotation:

It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
~Leonardo da Vinci

Now, let me ask you this… How do you spark the buying process without a lot of high-pressure, high-hype selling?

You do it by getting the reader, listener, or viewer to imagine buying from you, even before you’ve presented the full offer.

Why is that important?

It’s important because once someone imagines buying from you, they’ve made a mental commitment. The size of that commitment will depend on how well your content resonates with that particular individual, but it’s a commitment nonetheless.

And at that point, it’s a commitment voluntarily made, without any overt request on your part.

You may still be thinking, so what?

Well, we humans are funny that way. Once we commit to something, we tend to act in a consistent manner with the prior commitment.

The Six Psychological Shortcuts of Influence

In his famous book Influence: Science and Practice, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies 6 judgmental heuristics that create mental shortcuts that can drive our behavior:

Note that by giving away free content, you’re invoking reciprocity, which triggers the psychological need to give something back in return.

When people share and comment on your content, you’re invoking the power of social proof.

By creating conversational content that builds rapport, you are also bringing liking into play, because people want to do business with people they like, even if another choice might be technically more appropriate.

And by taking on the role of teacher, you’re becoming an authority figure, which makes what you say more likely to be accepted and acted upon.

Then when you get someone to imagine themselves buying, you’re bringing commitment and consistency into play, and this shortcut can tip the scales in your favor.

This is why in-person sales people will constantly ask you “If I can get this price, or this added feature, will you make the purchase?” When you verbally commit, they know they’ve gotten one crucial step closer to the close due to the psychological principles of commitment and consistency.

Even a smaller level of mental commitment can lead to consistency when the prospect makes the commitment based on their own (seemingly) unprompted decision.

At that point, the sale becomes yours to lose. This prospect will view your eventual offer through a more positive frame than someone who sees the offer cold. As long as you deliver what your content created desire for, you’ll sell a lot more.

Now you understand what da Vinci was saying.

When you come rushing out of the gate selling, it’s easy for people to resist. But when you establish yourself as a teacher who people have bonded with, it gets much harder to say no by the time the transaction is proposed.

Smart Selling Empowers People to Buy

So many people equate selling with hype and shady tactics to trick people into buying. In reality, smart selling is about empowering people to make the right decision. Often times, people simply need to be thoroughly educated on the basics, which naturally reveals the ultimate benefits of doing business with you along the way.

With Teaching Sells for example, we provide a 10-day education process to everyone who’s interested in learning more, even though some people on the waiting list are ready to buy now. We do this not only to provide all the necessary information, but also to make sure we get the right group of people as new members.

The right group for us is a group that will take action. We provide a lot of step-by-step guidance and interaction, but in order for our members to succeed, they have to be willing to do the work.

And if they succeed, we succeed, because their success reflects back on us. And that’s ultimately the best marketing around, right?

Check out Teaching Sells for yourself.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of Teaching Sells. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Reader Comments (41)

  1. says

    I really like the way you guys not only write about what to do, but also in the writing demonstrate what to do. I can look back over your post and see all the principles you mention.

    I trust this comment provides more social proof of your valuable content.


    Steve DeVane

  2. Sonia Simone says

    This is my favorite selling strategy, hands down. (Mostly because I always hated to sell, plus I was terrible at it.)

    It’s so much easier to put genuine passion and enthusiasm into educating your market and giving them valuable tools than it is to bust out some cheesy “closing” technique or other traditional sales move.

    As an added bonus, it also works better. :)

  3. says

    I too have not been comfortable with selling, having the incorrect impression that it was about convincing people to buy things they didn’t need or couldn’t afford. Having read Cialdini & your article I am convinced that education is a way to get around this. Educating people of the value of products makes a lot more sense and has a benefit so long as the information is based on good science.

  4. says

    I would like to call out one thing regarding the power of making people imagine buying your products…

    There are supposedly bundles of cells in the brain called mirror neurons. And when you make people imagine buying stuff from you, these mirror neurons fire up, and make their brain think they just bought the product.

    This is important because if your content resonates with people, their brain may also release some pleasure hormones associated with obtaining a desired product without actually getting it.

    Whether you think these pleasure hormones are beneficial are up to you, but it sure sounds like we may be close to learning how to control the minds of people…

  5. Sonia Simone says

    @Derek, “control” is probably too strong (as Michael mentioned, the person has to want what we have to offer), but “strongly influence to choose our solution over someone else’s,” yep, absolutely.

  6. says

    @Brian That’s a perfect example of why all of your readers should go through your archives and read every single one of your posts. There is just so much valuable information here that missing one article could be the difference between making real money and making just enough to buy yourself lunch once a month!

    @Sonia But doesn’t “control” sound so much more appealing? It’s like that show on National Geographic called “Taboo.” I just couldn’t resist! 😀

  7. says

    I didn’t know about the “The Six Psychological Shortcuts of Influence”. I guess it sounds pretty obvious once it is laid out like that. I guess that’s what good advice is: simple, obvious things…it just takes someone to present it in an organized manner. Thanks for the informative post. -Arif

  8. Liz says

    In Western Civilization, knowledge has historically been used as a tool to dominate other cultures, genders & classes.

    As a teacher, I think of education as a way to empower students to make a contribution to society and better their lives & communities not as a tool to dominate others. It’s disturbing to see the two very different concepts linked together in your headline. But headlines are written to attract attention not on the bases of their veracity.

  9. Liz says

    Educate me! Typo. Should be “basis”. Lesson: always proofread comments before hitting “submit”.

  10. Sonia Simone says

    @Liz, we actually don’t see it at all differently. We educate our audience to empower them to make a contribution to society and better their lives and communities. The “dominate” bit is tongue in cheek.

    @Derek, laughing, yeah, you notice that Frank Kern’s product isn’t called “Mass Convert Small Fraction of Prospects.” :)

  11. says

    For me, the point not to be missed in this article is to have PATIENCE.

    Only so much “educating” can be done in a one-page sales letter. 10-day or 12-week courses as well as ongoing blogs and forums are the keys to a strong “educate to sell” system.

  12. Sonia Simone says

    Good point, SC.

    I just realized there’s a point that may not be obvious to everyone. “Dominate” doesn’t refer to dominating people, it refers to dominating market positions. It’s about commanding a particular message, a particular angle, a particular way of framing a problem.

    While it would be lots of fun for Brian and I if we could in fact make readers do things, it doesn’t actually work that way. :)

  13. says

    Liz, thanks for your comment… it never occurred to me that my headline could be construed that way.

    Sonia’s right… it’s about dominating the competition, not your customers. We’ve seen enough of that adversarial attitude when it comes to marketing… my philosophy is all about empowerment.

    I changed the headline to clarify.

  14. says

    We’re trying to buy a car at the moment – argh! Hard selling reigns. I think I’ll start handing out the url to this article!

    By the way, the 10 day education process for teaching sells is a great idea. When selling info products, it’s really important the right customers buy because as you said, if they succeed you succeed.

    I learnt this the hard way in an offline business I had. In the beginning we took any customer who came along. We ended up with quite a few clients who were hard work/didn’t pay up/not fun to deal with and who didn’t succeed. We very quickly saw we needed a qualifying process. We ended up working with some awesome clients who did succeed and positioned ourselves as more exclusive and authority-like at the same time. It worked well.

    Great article. Thanks Brian.

  15. Mary E. Ulrich says

    No good teacher tries to “dominate.” How about “communicate” or “liberate” or “demonstrate”…

    As soon as a teacher dominates, they are no longer teaching. Sorry, but you hit a nerve.

    Content was great–just sucky title.

  16. says

    The Shoemoney training and tools are very good. I have been a member on and off, have been reading his free course, and have become an affiliate for him.

  17. says

    Brian, this hits it right on the mark.

    Almost all the money I have spent on the internet is thanks to that principle of education, one that I’ve endeavored to employ on my own website. One thing I’ve noticed is that if you have the patience to educate a prospect about a product’s value while keeping the dollar signs out of your eyes, all the “closing” of the sale is done for you, usually by the prospect him/herself!

  18. says

    Great post! This is some of the best advice on selling I’ve heard in a loooong time… And I can personally attest that it works!

    I teach people how to day trade “emini futures”… I introduce people to day trading and eminis with a free 5 day foundations course that teaches them everything they need to know to get started with day trading.

    Since I implemented the free course, I’ve had to create a waiting list for people to buy my system. (each month, I only release 10 licenses of my trading software , and only take on 10 coaching students).

    A few times a week I get calls of people thanking me for putting the course together. They also tell me that in a world of scammers (there’s a lot of BS in the day trading industry), I seem to be the real deal, and they feel like I really care because of the content I put out there for free. (some people actually sell my free info for over 7k).

    I haven’t made a single sales call since I’ve opened by business about a year ago… and it feels great! Without sounding corny, it’s nice to be able to help people without feeling like a salesman.

    I love this blog!

    First time commenter,

    Chris Dunn

  19. says

    I admire people like you who take the time to do all this research and then to share the results with others. Due to time constraints I will have to come back and read all the articles you have linked to.

    Thanks for the share.

  20. says

    Above all these things you’ve said, what I like most is about social proofs. People nowadays are very wise enough. You can’t easily make them bite on offers. Credibility is importantly needed and it should be accompanied by social proofs :-)

  21. says

    Excellent article! When you teach you gain trust. Evoking emotion is the easiest way to sell a product or service…that is easier to do when people trust you. Thanks for the article, I will pass it along!

  22. says

    Think you’ve made an excellent point in this post. Teaching people is what makes them trust you and it is far more important to gain that first before ever making a hard sale.
    Also your point on verbal commitment is an interesting one.

  23. says

    The most trusted name in all languages in the world is the word for “teacher”. Just like Jenny said, “Teaching people is what makes them trust you…”

    If someone trust you, they like you. If someone likes you, they are more apt to buy from you.

  24. says

    There are some very good points in this post.

    I for one am a firm believe of educating your prospective customers. Why? Because otherwise you have to resort to hyped marketing, which results in people calling you a liar (yup, happened to me many times).

    The way around this is to ditch the hype and educate the customers.

    Case in point, since I started pointing un-crappy content on my blog, my sales have gone up by a lot. Of course, the newsletter helps too.

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