Stop Selling and Start Teaching to Improve Demand Generation

Author: 
Ray Kemper, Chief Marketing Officer, Televerde

Customer relationships. They’re the engine that fuels successful selling, right? Well, not always. In fact, good customer relationships are usually the result of a good sales engagement. You’ve demonstrated your ability to provide a superior solution and value while showing you’re the right fit for the customer’s culture and needs. A relationship is born.

But that brings us back to the perennial question: how do we fuel demand generation and make that first positive selling experience happen?

Everyone knows that yesterday’s super-hyped promotions don’t always work. Savvy (some might say cynical) prospects can see the strong pitch coming a mile away and they don’t trust it. But here’s what they do trust: education. By teaching your prospects fresh concepts, best practices and unique problem resolution information, you establish yourself as a knowledgeable and generous expert who truly wants them to succeed.

Right now you might be thinking, “What can I teach? All someone needs to do is Google whatever they want to know.”

Actually, that’s not true. Reason one: there is too much garbage online. Busy professionals do not have time to sort through it. Another reason is that prospects are already far into their buying journey before they talk to you. Chances are, they have already consumed high-level content online – and that information has likely covered just the basics. Now, they’ve come to you, the expert, which means it’s your chance to offer your best practices and expertise – guidance only you and your experiences can offer.

Your competitors haven’t had your unique experiences. Neither have all the self-professed industry experts. That means you can teach your buying audience something they can’t learn anywhere else – the most efficient way to solve their individual problems, which solutions could work best for them, and the strategies that can take them into a profitable and productive future.

Building Relationships Through Teaching

Your future customers don’t want to be sold to – not overtly, anyway. As much as they may need a specific service or product, most will recoil from aggressive sales tactics. But they may willingly sign up to become your student when there are no strings attached, allowing you to boost demand generation in several ways:

Trust Because you’re offering this education with no stipulations, prospects will realize you have their best interests at heart. You haven’t told them how awesome your product is; you’ve given them information that will enhance their efficiency. Now they’re less defensive. Instead of trying to find the flaws in your marketing and sales approach, they’ll get a feel for how deep your knowledge is and if you’re a cultural fit. They’ll see the value faster and may decide to consume more of your content and or join your online community.

Expertise – By teaching instead of selling, you can demonstrate the depth and breadth of your own knowledge and experience. Now you’re not the sales and marketing leader asking them to buy; you’re the trusted advisor who can understand their unique pain point or challenge and help them push their business forward. Soon they’ll come back for new insights and help with specific initiatives. By offering tips and tactics, you can help them bring their projects to fruition.

A few examples include helping prospects understand:

  • What would success look like for this project?  Will it help me be innovative and put me ahead of the competition?
  • Which pain points will this solution effectively solve or mitigate?  Just as importantly, what will it not do or only do in combination with another product.
  • How would this product or solution integrate with my tech stack, marketing automation platform or CRM?
  • What are some of the KPI metrics that matter?
  • What can I expect in terms of internal resourcing, alignment and process improvement if I buy?

By sharing your experience in specific theoretical areas, you can help them feel more confident about their buying decisions – and working with you.

Solutions – Prospects are exasperated with vague promises that don’t really explain how a product or service may address their specific challenges. That’s good news for you, because you can be the exception: the leader who’s willing to go into depth in proposing specific solutions. You’ll set customer expectations and outline an appropriate project scope by listening to the details of their problems and then bringing equally detailed options to the table. Because these options will be based on your best practices, they won’t be the generic solutions the prospect can find somewhere else; they’ll be practical, focused and applicable to their specific needs.

One tip here:  Walk a fine line between sharing similar scenarios and addressing each prospect’s needs. People like knowing you’ve tackled similar problems but they also want you to tailor a solution to their situation. A good approach is letting them know you’ve faced this kind of issue before, and this is how you will customize the solution to meet their exact needs.

The benefits of an instructive sales approach can be immense. By building a connection, you’ll increase first your perceived value and then your sales. Bringing core knowledge and lessons learned to the table, information the prospect or customer will only get from working with you, creates a reputation of prestigious expertise. At that point, your demand generation will continue to rise naturally - because your value will be clear in the eyes of your market.

Ray Kemper is the chief marketing officer at Televerde, a global sales and marketing services company. He can be reached at Ray.Kemper@Televerde.com