Those of you who have been subjected to sales training at some point in your careers may remember a technique called “the assumptive close.” It goes something like this:

Assumptive Close“Would you like the car in red or blue?”
“Can I deliver that to you this Friday?”

In theory, asking such questions is an effective (if aggressive) method of bypassing the awkward “do you want to buy” question by, in effect, assuming the prospect has already decided to buy, and simply asking him or her to clarify that decision.

I was reminded of this technique recently upon receiving an email from a software company that read as follows (names and other details changed to protect the misguided):

“To get a complete picture of your company, you need an integrated business application. AcmePro 1.0 is the one. Only AcmePro …”

In marketing copy, there’s a fine line between assumptive and presumptuous, and this example crosses that line in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, the “If X, then you need Y” school of writing crops up often in B2B marketing, in part, one supposes, because it’s a convenient though lazy way to connect a pain point with a company’s product or service.

It’s also horribly ineffective. Telling someone that he or she needs your product, no matter what the argument, is a sure way to turn off that reader. No-one, not even the buyer desperate for what your product can offer, wants to be told what he or she needs.

It’s a far better idea to suggest that the reader can learn how to solve a particular pain by responding for more information, without explicitly suggesting you know better than the reader does about what he or she needs. For example (putting aside, for the moment, whether the benefit outlined below is particularly compelling):

“To learn how to get a complete picture of your company, download a free copy of our white paper on integrated business applications …”

or

“Get a complete picture of your company in just seconds. Download a free copy of our white paper on integrated business applications and learn how to …”

Remember, it’s OK to assume that the reader has the appropriate pain or problem or issue, and wants to solve it. Just don’t assume he or she already believes your product is the answer.

Adapted from “The High Tech Direct Marketing Handbook”. To download your free copy, click here.