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Choose Your First Few Words Wisely

Smart Old Man

If you don’t, nothing you say after that will matter much.  When I write copy or train sales peeps, I always have the number 11 in mind.  As in, say somethin’ sexy in 11 words or less, or assume everything else you say will be ignored.

(I got that number from Cashvertising, which said most selling sentences should be clear, simple, stated in 11 words or less.)


What will your prospect find sexy?  A discount?  News?  A big announcement?  A promise to remove pain or increase joy?  A story?

Yep.  All the above are good.  And if you pick the one that’s most attractive to them… and then carefully concoct a punchy opener?  They might actually hear you out.  As opposed to walking away, physically, or floating away, mentally.

Easier said than done.

Because you might forget and lead with something you think is sexy.  Your background, a new product feature, your company’s mission statement.

Not only that, you might be long-winded.  Jargon-y.  Confusing.  Or, worst of all, boring.

And I think if you pay attention to the pitches you come across, you’ll agree – most of it’s garbage.  So the ad bombs and the sales guy struggles and the business flatlines.

No good.

Try this instead:

Lead with the thing that annoys them the most or that they’re the most skeptical of.

If it’s a Facebook ad, you might start out with:

Just what you wanted, right?  Another annoying ad in your newsfeed.

If it’s your first email autoresponder, you might open with:

You need more emails like I need a hangover.  Not very bad.

If it’s a sales call, your guy could go:

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna bully you into buying today.

In 11, 12, and 10 words, above, did I not just say probably the single most relevant thing I could say – to build momentum – for each situation?

Because, lemme ask you somethin’:

When you’re in a group pic, who do you look at first?  Yourself.  Right?  Me, me, me – that’s all anyone cares about.  You could give a damn about Frank’s hair or Sally’s smile, as long as you look good.  Right?

So remember, the sexiest thing, no matter what you’re sellin’, is always your prospect.

That’s why, when in doubt, I like to start out by showing ’em, look, I’m putting myself in your shoes.  This is about you, not me.  I’m on your side.

Now, hopefully, I’ve got the floor.  The wise words I led with stopped ’em from scrolling past the ad, deleting the email, ending the call.

Now… I can transition into what I really wanna talk about.  And I can make a complete case for moving forward.

An opportunity I’d never have if I lost ’em in the first few words.

Cory Johnson: your momma’s neighbor’s side chick’s last Uber Eats delivery guy’s third-favorite blogger. Here’s how he makes millions of dollars blogging without being bothered.