I’m lucky in that I get to meet with really smart people who share some of my beliefs, but who stretch my thinking into ways that I might not normally consider for myself. I just had a great meeting with S. Anthony Iannarino, a sales consulting expert and all around nice guy (and former rockstar- for real!), and because of that, I’m buzzing with his words.
CREATE VALUE BEFORE YOU SELL
If there’s one success element I push over and over again in the social web it’s “be helpful.” In Anthony’s case, he’d say “create value.” It’s the same advice. He’s saying, “Do as much for your prospects and clients as you can without asking for anything.” It’s very much akin to my “I give away 90% of what I do for free.”
Are you feeling a bit nervous to read this? Are you wondering how someone gets rich doing that? Does this make you uncomfortable?
It should. It’s the opposite of how most of us learned how to do business. We were taught to launch into our pitch the moment we had someone’s attention. We were taught “ABC: Always Be Closing.” We were taught that if you’re not selling, you’re not eating.
TRANSACTIONS VS RELATIONSHIPS
You can sell once and eat today, or you can build a relationship that will have you eating forever. What Anthony and I both believe is that if you create value for your potential buyers, then you will eat forever. Because if you do it right, not only will you build a buyer of value, but you’ll build a relationship that will go beyond just sales, and into that realm of trusted colleague.
How do you do this? It’s clearly a mental shift. It’s a lot of mental work to go from thinking that you have to hit a quota number, versus believing that if you work on nurturing and cultivating and adding some value that you’ll find your way to an even higher number than your quota requested.
But it’s a lot like growing food. You have to plant the seeds, water them, weed them, and then wait for the natural law of the harvest to deliver your yield. Sometimes, you can’t find the time for this. Or that’s your perception. In times like that, do what needs doing and hustle. But realize that most of those sales will likely be a one-time experience. Don’t waste your best potential customers on your worst relationship-nurturing efforts.
People say to me all the time that they don’t have time to nurture relationships. They say, I have to be cold calling. To me, 3 minutes per prospect (minimum) on the phone x 20 potential prospects is an hour of time. In that same hour, I can create useful blog content (like this is hopefully useful to you), and then give it to as many people as might choose to read it, and then I’ve given value that I might be able to convert into a sale later.
Would you rather spend an hour on cold calling 20 people, or creating content that lives in search results forever (thus helping people find you) and can reach a virtually unlimited potential audience? To me, this is a no-brainer, but then, I’m weird that way, I guess.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Anthony and I do this all the time, every day. We create something of value to potential customers, and we put it out there. We are both eating well and keeping our kids fed and in clothing. We are seeing the growth curve every single year in our business.
Try it. Try taking an hour you’d have otherwise dedicated to transactional sales and try spending it on prospects by nurturing and creating value for them. Let’s see what comes of that. Feel free to report back. I’d love to hear what you come up with.