Use a service-based approach to land more projects....

Why You Make More Money by Not Selling

No writer ever wants to be “that guy” — the used-car sales guy — when it comes to talking to clients and selling their services.

But, Victor Bravo may change your mind.

I have now purchased two cars with Victor’s help. The first was a used Subaru Legacy for me, when my son started driving my Subaru Forester. The second was another used Subaru, when that Forester was totaled.

(By the way, my son walked away from the accident that totaled the Forester without even a scratch… is it any wonder why we replaced it with another Subaru?)

So, Victor…

First of all, Victor has a genuine love for what he sells. He whole-heartedly believes in the Subaru brand. He drives a Subaru himself. He knows these cars and their safety features inside and out.

He shares that knowledge with a test drive experience like none other. For our test drive, he had me drive out to a country road, where there was no other traffic. We tested acceleration, slamming on the brakes, a “panic brake” situation of pressing both the gas pedal and brake pedal at the same time, abrupt swerving, turn radius, taking corners at speed, and more.

We put the car through its paces. I had owned two Subarus before I met Victor, and even I walked away from that test drive with a new appreciation for this brand that I already loved.

But, more than his love and knowledge of Subaru… beyond his enthusiasm for the brand and the phenomenal car-buying customer experience he provides… Victor is successful because he cares about serving and helping people.

And, that’s what earns him raving fans, repeat customers, and referrals.

It’s also why he makes more money selling used cars than anyone else at the dealership. Probably more than anyone else at most dealerships.

What would Victor do, if he were a web writer like me and you?

Victor doesn’t approach people with dollar signs in his eyes and his sales commission top of mind. He actually doesn’t focus on selling at all. He focuses on serving.

We can, too.

Focus on Serving Instead of Selling

Like Victor, we will have more success — and make more money — when we focus on serving instead of selling.

Selling can come off as desperate. Pushy. Self-serving instead of truly helping our prospect.

And, that doesn’t make our prospect want to say yes to working with us.

Serving, on the other hand, is all about helping. People appreciate help. They say yes to being helped.

So, what does a serving mindset look like, as it applies to us web writers?

Lead with listening to what prospects say. Remember that every prospect has a unique business situation with unique problems they’re looking to solve. And, sometimes, they don’t really know what they need to fix the problem.

You don’t, either, if you don’t listen first.

Listen for understanding and refrain from offering a solution until they’ve told you everything you need to know. If you cut them off too soon, because you think you know the answer, you may miss a bigger opportunity to help them.

Ask questions to uncover their true problem. They may tell you they need better emails to follow up with leads. And, they may. But, if their true problem is the landing page collecting the leads… or the offer, or something else… then the new emails won’t really solve the problem.

So, you need to ask questions to get to the root cause of their problem.

When you serve them by helping them figure out the true problem instead of simply selling them the first thing they ask for, you’ll gain their respect and their loyalty. And, you’ll very likely make more money, because they’ll keep coming back.

Recommend a solution… even if that solution doesn’t include you. This always makes me think of the movie Miracle on 34th Street, when the Macy’s Santa directs parents to a different store, because Macy’s didn’t have a particular toy their child wanted.

The same applies to us as web writers.

If your prospect needs something you don’t do — and you don’t want to learn to do — be honest and direct them elsewhere. When you do what’s in the best interest of your prospect, they’ll remember. They’ll tell others about you. And, when they need help you do provide, they’ll be back.

Let them “test drive” your recommended solution by enthusiastically describing what they’ll experience working with you. Remember to focus on the benefits, not just features.

Victor’s test drive works so well, because people experience the safety and performance of the car rather than Victor just telling them about the features (all-wheel-drive, anti-lock braking system, pre-collision braking, etc.). He gets them to imagine how it will feel to own the car.

We web writers can’t provide the same behind-the-wheel test drive, but we can certainly help a prospect imagine how it will feel to work with us and get the results they’re looking for.


Be enthusiastic about their project. Brainstorm ideas and approaches you might take with it. If appropriate, share success stories of other people in similar situations as theirs.

Get them excited by being excited yourself.

Show them you care. Traditional sales training recommends an ABC approach, where ABC stands for Always Be Closing. I suggest an edit to that…

I believe sales will follow when you take an Always Be Caring approach.

It’s worked for me throughout multiple sales jobs in my pre-writer’s life. And, it works especially well for me now as a web writer.

A Service-Based CTA to Get the Business

While we’re focused on serving not selling, we still need to close the deal and get the business. I struggled with this for quite a while. But, I’ve found a simple question that works. One that makes both me and the prospect feel good.

Here’s my call to action to get the business:

“Does it make sense to move forward with this?”

If the answer is yes, I do a happy dance and send them my contract and invoice.

If the answer is no, I ask this simple follow-up question:

“What do you see as the next logical step?”

Maybe they still need more information. Maybe the problem and solution weren’t what they first thought, and so they need time to mentally adjust. Maybe they need to adjust their budget.

There are various things they may need before they can say yes. Their answer to this question helps point me in the right direction to continue helping them get the clarity they need to move forward.

Remember, people want to buy — they want help solving their problems — but they don’t want to be sold to.

So, adopt a serving mindset and help them!

It’s what Victor would do.

It works for me.

And, it can work for you, too.


Michele Peterson

I'm a Freelance Direct-Response Copywriter specializing in web content and social media. I help clients attract new prospects, get new customers, and retain existing clients with engaging web content and strategic social media. I'm a Master Networker, having attended 400+ networking events in the past 3 years. AND I'm a proud Baseball Mom, Wine Wife, and BBQ Daughter who loves Christmas, Disneyland, and rescue dogs.

One Comment

  • Michele, I liked the way you pivot if, after the CTA, they say “No, it doesn’t make sense to move forward.” Great to be prepared with that question in your back pocket!

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