In traditional marketing, pre-selling refers to closing a sale on a product or item before the item is in inventory. In some cases, products are even pre-sold before they are manufactured. This is a common tactic used by the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and even major car manufacturers. The idea is simple. Create buzz about a product before consumers get to see it to increase interest and thus sales.

Believe it or not, you can pre-sell products and services on your website. All you have to do is create interest on the part of the buyer and foster trust. By creating interest and trust before consumers even know that you are selling them a product, you help to build the impression that you and your product are a “known quantity.” As the saying goes, you need to “sell the sizzle, not the steak,” which is to say that you need to sell a concept (your trustworthiness and thus the product’s quality) rather than try to sell the product simply on its merits. Of course, pre-selling is easier said than done. Here are some tips on how to pre-sell to website visitors.

Understand What Pre-Selling Is

There are two steps to pre-selling, establishing authority and fostering trust. Both of these are aspects of the larger goal, which is to create a willingness in your customer to purchase from you. Simply put, before you sell anything, you need a customer who is willing to buy from your website, or in the case of affiliate marketing, trusting your referrals.

Establishing authority is actually the first step in building trust and generating a willingness on the part of your customer to buy from you. Your site needs to be comprehensive, up to date, and honest about whatever niche it covers. You want customers to see your website first and foremost as a fount of knowledge. They should come to your site any time they have a question about the topic you cover. By becoming an authority, you establish a level of trust that leads people to accept what you have to say.

Just establishing authority isn’t enough to build and maintain trust. Once you have established your website as an authority, it is important that you continue to build trust among consumers by keeping their best interests in mind. That means steering them toward good deals, warning them about scams or fraud, and helping them make good decisions even if doing so does not lead to sales for you. If you abuse your authority, then people will not trust you. Abusing your authority on the Internet can take many forms, like writing false reviews or linking to unsubstantiated content.

1. Provide Information

Most people venture onto the Internet to get information. They may want to learn about a new topic, read reviews on a product or service, or accumulate ammunition for an argument they are having. Whatever their information requirements may be, it’s your job to meet them. Provide great content, honest reviews, and well-researched material that people can trust. Make your site the one-stop-shop for all information regarding the niche it covers.

2. Answer Questions

Part of providing good information is answering questions, but answering questions goes well beyond just providing. You need to make your website a place where people can quickly get accurate answers to questions they have. Don’t just answer questions about topics or products though. Answer questions about who you are, what your website does, who your affiliates are, how you make money, and so forth. Imagine yourself in the role of consumer. What do you want to know about a website that you visit for information and are considering buying products on?

3. Be Modest

Perhaps the worst thing you can do when attempting to establish trust and authority is to tell customers that you are the best. No one will believe you if you say that. In fact, most people will start to think you are over-compensating because you aren’t the best. Rather than telling customers how great you are, show them. Give them the content they want and access to the information they need. Be honest to a fault and go out of your way to meet their needs. Doing these things will show your customers that you have their best interests in mind, which will lead them to conclude that you are the best.

4. Know Your Customer

Not all customers are the same and you need to know what makes yours tick if you want to give them the information they want. Some customers are more skeptical than others and require more convincing before they will trust a source. Determine how cynical your customers are so that you know just how far you have to go to demonstrate your character and the quality of the information you offer.

5. Be Responsive

Nothing generates trust like responding to customer queries and concerns in a timely manner. A quick search of the Internet will show you that most complaints are about customer service and not about products. Even when the product is defective, good customer service can turn a bad review into a glowing review. Nothing fosters trust quite so well as happy customers spreading the word about your site’s integrity.

When you respond to customers, be sure to acknowledge their need and then respond to it as succinctly as possible. By acknowledging what your customers are saying, you let them know you are an ally. By answering their needs with a thorough, but succinct response, you are giving them the information they need to make decisions and achieve resolution. Above all, your responses should be honest. Even your level of concern should be genuine because people are really good at identifying false empathy.

6. Build Anticipation

Think of pre-selling as an effort at building anticipation. You want customers to be ready to buy as soon as you make an offer. Part of getting them into that mindset is letting them know that you are trustworthy, know what you are talking about, and have some great offers to make to them. In other words, when you feel that you have established trust and authority, drop some hints about the deals that you can make or the quality of the products you have to sell. Let customers build up the products and their need for them in their own minds. Your goal is to make customers feel like you introduced them to a product or service that they need, not that you sold them something. Pre-sell so that you don’t have to sell what you are offering. It works.