Why do so many businesses have a tough time business building and ramping up sales? It’s because they’re pitching, not educating and adding value. Seems obvious, right?
Let’s say you sell telephone systems, like Company X does. Company X practiced sales by cold calling prospective companies to ask if they were interested in talking about a new telephone system (yuck--this is a standard product pitch). They had four salespeople making hundreds of calls per day. The result? A whopping three appointments per week. Ack!
First of all, every company that has a phone system more than five years old could benefit from a new phone system. Heck, more than 15 of the major providers of phone systems from just 10 years ago are now out of the phone system business. But inertia is a powerful force--and the enemy of business building and good choices. If the phone system isn’t broke, why fix it?
Ready to double sales? Take the following steps:
1. The first thing Company X did after discovering the education-based marketing concept was target bigger companies. The bigger the company, the bigger the phone system. The bigger the phone system, the bigger the sales potential.
2. The salespeople called the 2,000 largest companies in their market with two simple questions: “Hi, we’re doing our annual telephone system survey. I just need to know two things: What is the model of your phone system, and how old is it?” In two days, the salespeople had a list of 508 companies with old and often obsolete phone systems.
3. Now for the best part: education-based marketing. The sales reps called on these larger companies with one offer: “We have a new educational program entitled 'The Nine Ways You’re Wasting Money on Your Voice and Data Spending.'” They continued, saying: “We’ve been in the telephone business for 10 years now, and we’ve found that every company wastes money on voice and data spending in at least nine areas. We’ve put together a white paper to teach companies how to stop wasting--and start saving--money. If you ever need any help at all with your voice, data, or telephone system needs, we want you to know about us. So we’re sending you our white paper.”
This approach increased their appointments tenfold, from three per week to 30 per week. This company’s revenue was $3 million the year prior to using the education-based marketing approach. After six months, Company X’s sales pipeline was $9 million strong. I’ve used these techniques for companies much larger--in the tens and hundreds of millions in revenue. They’re solid.
To drive my point home about the power of education-based marketing, let’s review a few ineffective education-based marketing approaches, alongside more effective ones:
Business: Financial Planner
Ineffective offer: “I want to come and talk to you about how I can help you plan for a better financial future.”
Effective offer: “Even if you never do anything with me, I want to make sure you know that there are five critical mistakes everyone makes in trying to accumulate wealth.”
Business: Technology Services Firm
Ineffective offer: “Let me tell you how great we are at helping with your IT services.”
Effective offer: “As part of our effort to build better relationships in the business community, we offer a free white paper entitled ‘Six Ways to Dramatically Increase Productivity Using Your Current Technology.’”
Education-based marketing net-net
Sales is about building rapport, not breaking it. When you sell, or pitch, you’re often breaking rapport because the prospect may be skeptical; no one wants to be sold. When you educate, you build rapport. Launch all your meetings by teaching your prospect something, or by offering data that establishes that you’ve done your homework.
If you embrace education-based marketing, you’ll outmarket your competitors every time. Education-based marketing attracts buyers before they think about buying. It casts a wider net, attracts more buyers, and closes a higher percentage of prospects if the lessons you offer are truly valuable. This is the least expensive, most effective marketing concept you’ll ever use.
What kind of free education could you offer that would make your prospects want to meet with you, respond to your ad, or take an interest in your direct mail approach?