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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
Implement the Feel, Felt, Found Sales Model in Mail Order
By Allen Guy

Most of us have heard of the "Feel, Felt, Found" approach to sales at some point in our lives. The traditional way of thinking served both individual and industry from the age of time. Buyers want their doubts to be understood as they make purchasing decisions. They want to know they're not the first to break ground on a product or service. Buyers a century ago wanted to know they were receiving value for their commitment, and today's buyers are no different.

But how do we successfully transition tried-and-true techniques used throughout history to today's industry that evolves around bits, bytes, and overnight delivery?

The job becomes more difficult for mail order salespeople because they don't see the customer face-to-face and opportunities to interpret body language are nonexistent. Therefore, it's important to capture the buyer's attention long enough to instill buyer confidence. The words and images we choose can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the sale.


Building trust through printed alone is difficult. Do your words allow the buyer to express his or her feelings about your products? Do those same words confirm that others have experienced those same feelings yet overcome those doubts to make a positive buying decision?

Prompting a consumer to reason these concepts in his or her mind is achieved by what we write, more specifically with the questions we pose through our words. When asked effectively, questions require the buyer to begin contemplating his or her need for our product. Let's face it—buying is an emotional reaction on some level. If we can launch the thought process for prospective buyers, the battle is half over.


Next, do we put the customer's mind at ease by proving that others felt skepticism about our products? In the traditional sales environment where buyer and seller are able to interact with one another, it's easy to say "I've had others who felt the same way." The salesperson is able to garner an immediate reaction to determine if he or she has overcome the buyer's fears. But how do we communicate the "felt" in a mail order world?

Even though you're unable to judge the buyer's reaction, the statement used by salespeople countless times still has great value for the mail order salesperson when worded correctly and provided at the appropriate time. For example, following statements made about the product's performance, you might write, "Others have considered the costs of (product name) and found it..." You confirm to the customer it's okay to feel this way. Previous buyers had the same concerns and now he or she can be confident with a buying decision.


When completing the statement above, it's important you provide strong evidence to back your claims. As soon as you have credible data worth sharing with potential buyers, let them see that others recognized the value of your products. This information supports the "found" portion of our sales process. "Others have tried cheaper imitations but found the original [product name] last twice as long as other brands." The facts will speak for themselves.

By showing value found in your product, you overcome potential objections. In the world of online and direct mail, sellers don't have the luxury of uncovering every concern a buyer has. Therefore it's paramount to show the results of your product to insure potential buyers realize the value you offer.


While the "Feel, Felt, Found" approach has been proven to be a successful formula for sales, one more step can be added to this approach to increase the effectiveness. That fourth step is "Finalize." Whether in a traditional face-to-face environment or in our world of eCommerce and mail order, confirming the buyer's decision is a critical step in our process. How many times as a buyer have you seen someone fail to ask you to act? Often times it's a simple question of "Does this make sense?" to finalize the sale.

As an online or mail order vendor, what questions are you asking to finalize your opportunities? Does the customer end the transaction with 100 percent confidence in the purchasing decision he or she just made. If not, what areas in your sales process do you need to examine to create that assurance going forward?

As you carefully consider your products, your customers and your competition, constantly evaluate your performance of an age-old process of sales. Do your prospective buyers know you understand their concerns? Are they assured they're not alone in their thought process? Have you shown credible evidence to back your claims? Have you finalized the deal?

About the Author:
Allen Guy, the author of "Playing To Win — The Sport of Selling and How You Can Win the Game," is a veteran sales representative and manager with experience that spans twenty-five years and multiple industries.


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