So what do you learn from the number six employee at HubSpot? A must-have marketing plan to fill your pipeline? No. Killer sales techniques? Not really. Tips and tricks to get the deal across the line? Maybe. Instead, what came into sharp clarity along the way is that marketing and sales is all about helping.
Helping with motivation
Inbound marketing, in a nutshell, is about placing helpful content online in such a way that your ideal clients and customers will find it when they need it and it will answer their questions at that time. Alongside this, flood your signpost channels, typically social media, with appealing snippets to continually remind your followers that you are there. Implementing an inbound strategy is an almost must for any B2B, service or product based business or organisation. However, an inbound strategy can easily become as sterile and even as rotten as any outbound marketing and sales strategy that it replaces: stinking of disruptive messaging and pushy sales techniques. Whether inbound or outbound it’s the motivation that counts.
If my motivation is to ‘close the deal’, it does not matter how fancy my keyword strategy is or how thorough my content cluster is, it will always come across as pushy sales. If my motivation is to help, genuinely help, then that comes across whatever the content.
Whilst ‘helping’ might seem a bit weak as a strategy it cuts through the sales calls that both you and I often encounter. Perhaps an example of this in practice…
I receive a sales email from a small company that we have used as a supplier once. The email is polite and invites me to consider using them again. I notice several things. It is is a copy-and-paste email, no automation. There is no call to action in the email. The email is disruptive, i.e. I was not looking for their services when I received the email. When I look at their website there is a list of things that we could improve, but one thing stands out: no google analytics.
So I give them a ring and ask to speak to the Director, by name as that information is on the website. Introduce myself. Thank them for the email. Apologise for pointing it out, but if you are really in marketing mode [the email was a giveaway], then you might like to know that google analytics is not working on your website and this will be important for measuring your marketing efforts.
The Director is very grateful and we begin a conversation in which she invites me to run a full report on her website. She is keen to get her website working well as it is a crucial part of their sales. We run the report. We meet and talk. She invites us to put a proposal in for consultancy. We have a new client, and they have a website that is now improving.
Throughout this process, there was no talk about special deals or time-limited offers. Instead, we were interested in her business and how we might help. Genuine help in practice will always cut through the sales talk.
Marks of Genuine Help
Genuine help is happy
Part of the workout with Dan Tyre is smiling. When you are smiling, you can’t be reluctant or resentful about what you’re offering. If you are happy to be offering help, then you will be smiling.
Genuine help listens
Helping without listening is interfering, annoying and in the end a waste of everyone’s time. Avoid jumping to conclusions and pushing your latest package. Listen to what is needed and, if you can, help.
Genuine help is not pushy
There will be plenty of times when help is not needed, or the timing is not right, or what you have to offer is not right; if you are genuinely there to help you will not push. Pushing will leave a bad taste in the mouth of the client, and your help will not be helpful. Guess what; they will not be back.
Genuine help has substance
Pointing out people errors and what they are not doing is easy; fixing it is harder, but that is what is needed. Pointing out that the google analytics ‘is not installed’ is not enough, I needed to be ready and willing to deploy staff time to fix it for them.
Genuine help is for its own sake
If I help expect a return, a sale, a deal and new client or customer, then it is not genuine help. It should be enough to have helped and hope to receive a grateful “Thanks”.
Dan Pink, in his book, To Sell is Human, sets out convincingly that the old ABC mantra of sales: always be closing, has not just run its course but has no place in today’s marketplace. Instead, Always be Helping should be the backbone of any marketing and sales strategy. What that might look like in your particular setting or industry should be the agenda of those marketing and sales meetings you run or attend.
I am grateful to Dan Tyre for the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp he runs as part of the offering to Agency Partners from Hubspot.