Have you heard the phrase "The best way to learn is to teach?" In sales your purpose is to sell, but to get that sale you must establish rapport with customers. We tend to connect better with people that are knowledgeable and helpful about subjects we care about.
How do you demonstrate that you are knowledgeable and helpful? By teaching potential customers how to accomplish something useful to them.
Teaching is the Best Way to Learn (and Increase Sales)
Long term success in sales means being more than just a method of brochure delivery. You need to have positive and meaningful interactions with clients so they will value you, and not just the free stuff you give them. There is no silver bullet here, establishing rapport requires demonstrating your knowledge of your product or service AND how your potential customer will benefit from using it. This isn't a one-and-done scenario either, you have to repeat this, or something similar, with every potential customer.
One great way to accomplish this: write regular blog posts with actionable information and insights.
The repetitive nature of the sales process is why writing and sharing content is such a powerful tool for a salesperson. Physically you can only talk to so many people each day. Creating and sharing content enables you to communicate your knowledge and experience to an exponentially larger audience while still providing customers with personal attention and insights.
How to get started writing content
This is different for everyone I suspect but for me the starting point was jotting down my best sales pitches. It was in this process of writing down my sales pitches that I realized I was essentially teaching customers how run their business better and how my product fit into the process. I wasn't just telling them how to do it either, I had pictures and video to show them and I would even go out in the shop and show them how to do it.
That's when I realized something. In my best pitches I wasn't selling my customers anything, I was teaching them and sometimes even talking them out of buying things and yet they would still come back and buy from me. I was giving my customers a detailed how-to course filled with information they could use right now.
Doing this accomplishes two things:
- Establishes yourself as an expert, or at least as someone with valuable knowledge to others. You may not consider yourself an expert but almost everyone has some experience or knowledge that others can learn from.
- Endears you in the eyes of the customer as someone who isn't just another salesperson but someone willing and able to help them solve their problems.
Teaching someone and walking them through a how-to article also accomplishes something else that isn't obvious:
Customers begin to understand the time and effort involved and realize the value.
This is an almost mythical concept that seems counter intuitive at first. Many sales organizations will avoid posting how-to information because they believe they are giving away their product or service. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone say "but if we tell them how, what's keeping them from doing it themselves?" Well, why didn't you build your car, house, computer, make the clothes your're wearing, roast (or even make...) the coffee you're drinking? The plans and components for all of those things are easily found online. The reality is none of us want to do these things ourselves, we don't have time to learn, design, create, rework etc. However, when you teach others how to do what you do correctly you are educating them to properly value your product or service while validating the value of having an expert to help them achieve success in their endeavor.
More often than not customers will realize they don't have the time and resources to design, build, iterate, or maintain things themselves and would be better off working with an expert.
An added benefit of this process is that the customer sells themselves on the idea and will defend their choice which starts your customer journey from a much better point than if you sell them on it, in which case they often feel like they were taken advantage of and start over analyzing as they look for a way out. When we sell ourselves on an idea we tend to defend it and follow it through.
Once you start writing content you will need to decide how and where you want to share it. Check back next week for my next post about content management and tools you can use.