Use Sales Techniques to Sell More Books

Often the word “salesman” conjures up an image of a less- than-ethical, pushy, used-car sales-man. In poll after poll, survey respondents typically rank sales-people above only members of Congress on trust, honesty and competency. Poor salespeople have left many people with a distaste for selling.

Sales Techniques

Selling can be good. Good selling involves true empathy and a desire to solve a problem. It creates value for the customer while overcoming the obstacles to a sale. According to Zig Ziglar, “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”

As an author, you can use effective sales techniques in your marketing messages. Selling with integrity is possible. Good sales techniques focus on developing trust, meeting a need, and cutting through the obstacles to help people make a purchasing decision.

You can use the following three sales techniques to improve your marketing efforts and sell more books.

1.  Make a Connection

A popular saying in business is “People do business with people they know, like, and trust.”  Studies show that people buy books from authors they “know.” Building trust requires making a connection. All connections have an emotional component.

You can create an emotional connection with your audience by being transparent and real. A study by Stackla found 86% of people reported that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.

Instead of just pushing your book, be relational. Make a connection with your audience whether that is in person, on social media, or in your marketing messages. Remember, first make a connection, then draw attention to your books.

2.  Always Follow Up

Always, always follow up with people you meet or who show an interest in your books. Studies show that only 2% of sales happen at the first meeting. Instead, 80% of sales prospects report saying “No” four times before they finally say “Yes”.

After making a connection with someone, follow up. Send them an email, a message, or even a postcard reminding them about your books. Remember, it takes multiple exposures to a new product before most people decide to make a purchase.

3.  Create a Sense of Urgency

One sales technique to increasing chances that interested parties will decide to make a purchase is to create a sense of urgency. When people feel that they will miss out on a good deal if they don’t act now, they are more likely to act then to put off acting. Putting off buying something is easier when there is no sense of urgency.

So, offer time-limited promotions and specials to your audience to create a sense of urgency. One study found that promotional emails that included a sense of urgency had:

  • A 14% higher click to open rate.
  • Twice as high transaction rates compared to average marketing emails.

While you may not see yourself as a “sales” person, the truth is that using effective sales techniques in your marketing efforts will increase your book sales.

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Three Under-Used Book Marketing Techniques

The book 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer lists that many ways to market a book. There really are thousands of ways to market a book.

Not every marketing technique can or should be used for every book. However, there are a few marketing techniques that work well no matter the theme or genre of a book.

Under-Used Book Marketing Techniques

I have found that many independent authors fail to implement some easy techniques for marketing their books. The following three are just a sample of a larger list, but I think they are a good starting point.

1.  Inviting Readers to Connect with You in Your Book

Inviting readers to connect with you is an effective way to build a loyal following of readers and fans. Don’t make it hard for your readers to find you. Give them information on how they can connect with you.

A quick perusal of the last 10 title nominated for the 2021 Christian Indie Awards—a good random sample—revealed the following:

  • Only 5 out of these 10 books even listed the author website either on the back cover or in the “About the Author” section in the back of the book.
  • Only one out of these 10 titles included an invitation for readers to connect with the author in the book. This author listed his social media profiles (Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram).

If you are not inviting readers to connect with you in your book, you are missing out on connecting with your audience and building a loyal following for repeat sales. A study by Goodreads found the following:

  • 82% of authors that included an invitation to sign up for their newsletter or mailing list in their books see an increase in subscribers.
  • 73% of authors who invite readers to follow them on social media see an increase of followers.

Don’t forget to invite readers to connect with you in your books. You can invite them to send feedback to your email address, you can invite them to sign up for your newsletter to hear about future books, and you can invite them to read your blog or follow you on social media. Be sure to include all the necessary URLs and links to make it easy for your readers.

2.  Asking for Reviews in Your Book

Of those 10 nominated books, only one sported a request in the back of the book for readers to write a review of the book. This request was titled:

“If you’ve enjoyed this book, please tell others…”

Then it listed six ways that readers could do this including writing a review of the book on Amazon, sharing about the book on social media, and recommending the book to others via word-of-mouth.

Reviews help sell books. Many readers don’t think about writing a book review. Asking for a review is a great way to lead people to do what you want them to do.

The Goodreads study found that 84% of authors who ask in the back pages of their book for a review see an increase in reviews. So, ask for reviews in your book.

Collaboration

3.  Collaborating with Other Authors

For the most part writing is a solitary activity. However, publishing a book and marketing a book are not. It takes a team to publish a book—editors, cover designers, book designers, printers, etc.

Marketing—while it can be done in solitude—is much more effective when done in collaborative efforts with others. Joining together with other authors with the same target audience reaps more exposure and sales. When authors piggy-back on each other’s audiences, the reach is augmented.

On rare occasions, I stumble across Christian indie authors engaging in collaboration and doing it well. Yet, your marketing reach is greatly enhanced when you collaborate with other authors in creative ways like:

  • Creating boxed sets (a set of ebooks all sporting the same genre or theme)
  • Conducting a newsletter swaps (promoting each other’s books to your respective email lists)
  • Hosting combined author events (like a multi-author book signing)

If you are not using these three book marketing techniques, I encourage you to do so. In addition to helping you grow your audience, they won’t cost you a cent to implement.

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Email Rules the Marketing Kingdom

Email marketing is a highly effective marketing technique. As an author, I encourage you to build an email list and send out regular updates to your list.

Email is known for generating sales. If you are not using email marketing, you are missing out on a valuable marketing tool.

The infographic below lists 10 Dos and Don’ts for a Email Marketing Success. I think the following statistics from the graphic are particularly interesting:

  • About 53% of email are opened only on mobile devices.
  • Personalized emails are known for delivering 6x higher transaction rates.
  • Emails with a single CTA (call to action) button increase clicks by 371%.
  • 35% of recipients open emails based only on the subject line.

Email dos and don'ts

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Book Marketing Amidst Thorns and Thistles

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to tackle a long-neglected area of my yard. I pulled out weeds and cleared brush.

The weather was hot, so I wore a short sleeve shirt. Only later did I realize that I must have tangled with some Poison Oak when large red welts began to appear on my arms. The damage was not pretty.

As soon as I noticed the allergic reaction, I began to treat the affected areas. I also prayed—asking Jesus to heal me. In my prayer, I reminded God that I was only doing what he wanted me to do—to subdue the Earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

While praying, I was reminded that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; …It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had certainly run into some nasty thorns and thistles. As I pondered this, I got to thinking that we don’t just run into thorns and thistles while doing yardwork. We also run into thorns and thistles in other areas when we assert dominion.

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into thorns and thistles in the writing, publishing, and marketing of your books. After all, your writing is part of ruling with God on the Earth (Go into all the world and make disciples).

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into all sorts of thorns and thistles like:

  • Computer crashes where work is lost
  • Cancelled events
  • Lost packages when shipping books
  • Money spent on advertising that does not bring results
  • Book launches that flop

It’s good to remember that while we have to deal with thorns and thistles, that is not all that our work produces.

In the same sentence that God tells Adam “It will produce thorns and thistles for you”, God also says:

“…and you will eat the plants of the field.”

We may run into thorns and thistles, but our work will also bring about fruit. So, while you are struggling with the thorns and the thistles, take heart, good crop is also growing. Your efforts—taken for the glory of God—are not made in vain.

Trust God. Ask him to bless your work. He is faithful and tends the seeds that you plant with your books. Good fruit will come—even though you have to fight the thorns and the thistles in the process.

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Photo courtesy of Dimitri.

How Effective Is Your Website?

Your website is important. It is the face that you present to the world.

Your readers judge you and your books by your website. In fact, the people who visit your website will form their opinion within 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) of viewing your web page.

How Effective Is Your Website?

If you want more visitors to stay on your website so that you can convince them to engage with you and eventually buy your books, then it is important that your website is effective in retaining visitors.

To find out how effective your website is, ask yourself these four questions.

1.  Does my website load quickly?

 Statistic:  47% of users expect a maximum of 2 seconds loading time for an
average website.

The longer it takes for your website to load, the more potential visitors bail. People want quick responses. When they don’t get them, they move on to the next thing.

You can test your website load speed on the following free services:

Often the culprit for a website slow load time is that the image files on the website are large. If your website is slow, try compressing your images with this free tool found at Optimizilla.

2.  Is my website content written for easy scanning?

Statistic: Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written content.

Research shows that 79% of people scan a web page, while only 16% read word-for-word. Too much information results in cognitive overload. In an effort to reduce our cognitive load, we scan information. This results in more efficient processing of that information by the brain.

To maximize the effectiveness of your website, make your content scannable. Break paragraphs down into two or three sentences. Use headers and bullet points.

3. Does my website include a call to action?

Statistic:  70% of small business websites lack a call to action (CTA) on their homepage.

Good marketing always includes a call to action. Whether this is in an advertisement, in an email, on a social media site, or on your website. A call to action urges the reader to act now.

Include a call to action on your website. What do you want your visitors to do?

  • Sign up for your newsletter.
  • Give their email in exchange for a free ebook.
  • Buy your book today to receive a special discount, bundle, or extra material.

4.  Does my website display well on all devices?

Statistic: Nearly 8 in 10 customers stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.

Websites look different on different devices. Your website will look different on a lap top computer versus a smart phone. You can view how your website appears on various mobile devices with the free tool found at Responsinator.

Did you know that your website may also look different in different browsers? You can view how your website appears in different browsers—Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.—with the free tool found at Browser Shots.

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