I launched my first official entrepreneurial venture in the fifth grade:
black market reminders.
If you’re not familiar, “reminders” were given as a punishment back
in the day to ensure you didn’t forget what you did was wrong. So,
the teacher would make you write out something like, “I will not talk
in class” or “I will not run in the hallway” one hundred times
on paper, or maybe on the chalkboard while the other kids got to go
out to recess. (In my case, I always forgot to put my name on my
papers, so I can’t tell you how many times I had to write out “Matt
White” on page after page after page of classic line ruled paper!)
At one time or another, almost everyone had to write reminders for
some reason – “I will not talk in class,” “I will not chew gum in
school,” “I will not hit my classmate,” etc. – and everyone HATED
So, here’s what I did...
I would use tape to connect four pencils together, angled slightly, so
one writing action would result in four lines of written text.
Can you just picture the scene? Here’s me, a fifth-grader, sitting at my
desk at home with four pencils taped together, angled so I could
write ONE sentence, but the output would be FOUR lines of text...
I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
And then...I would write reminders for the other kids. I’d hit up the
typical punishment phrases and have a stash of reminders ready for
anyone in a pinch (I’d even change up my handwriting and use
different pencils or pens to get some variety) – and then I’d charge
them to buy these pre-written reminders! For those who got in
trouble regularly, I created a filing system and could literally whip out
a set of reminders for that kid on the spot.
At four lines of text per one time of writing a sentence, I could knock
out a full page of reminders (roughly 24-25 lines if I recall) in
probably 60 seconds or less. And, then I’d charge 25 cents per page –
so 100 reminders would net me a buck. (And you thought YOUR
business idea was a good one!)
So, what does this have to do with anything?
This book is about moving from a traditional “selling” mentality to a
mindset of “helping.” One of the major benefits of helping instead of
selling is being a resource in such a way that, over time, you’re in the
right place at the right time with the right product or service. As you
educate, inform and entertain your customers and prospects, you’re
priming the pump, so to say, for that time six months, 18 months, or
two years from now when your prospect is ready to make a purchase.
You don’t know exactly when that will be, but your consistent
presence in front of your potential customer as a helpful resource will
ensure you’re top of mind when they decide.
And, if done well, you can actually anticipate the needs of your
audience. Whether seasonality or trends or particular pain points, you
know there are certain things that trigger a higher need or desire for
your content or your product or service. In fifth grade for me, it was
at the moment someone got in trouble.
While I wasn’t writing blogs or producing e-books to educate my
fifth grade peers on the stress that’s caused when a 10-year-old is
forced to write reminders, I was very aware of WHO my audience
was, WHAT their challenges were, and WHEN they would benefit
most from my services. I never had to “sell” them anything. Word
got around that I was the go-to kid in the “market!” If someone
needed help, I was there to help them.
Your sales and marketing strategy should help you understand and
convey to your team these very important data points as well.
Being there when your prospect is in a bind. Providing valuable
information when your customers need it. Answering questions they
didn’t even know they had. Helping instead of selling. These are the
hallmarks of a truly GREAT salesperson.
It’s not going to be easy.
While reading this, you’ll be forced to think differently. It’s going to
open your eyes to a new way to sell, without actually “selling.”
If you’re like me, you like to be comfortable. Change is hard. Doing
things the way we’ve always done it is a heck of a lot easier than
doing something new. But, I promise, if I can do it...you can, too!
This book is a compilation of content from more than four
years of blogging about this topic.
Since January 2012, I’ve published more than 300 blog posts. And,
here, I’ve pulled together some of the best and tweaked them for
relevance and timeliness.
I’ve grouped them into “collections” that break down into the
different parts of the book. Although there is an order overall, they
don’t necessarily flow in a linear fashion; instead, they can each stand
alone, so feel free to jump around as much as you want!
Above all, I write with the same intent of the title of this book – to
help rather than sell. With that being said, I hope this book helps you.
Let’s get started!
Why Traditional Sales Doesn’t Work Any More
Traditional sales doesn’t work any more.
Did you know that more than 70% of the customer’s buying decision
is made before you even know he or she exists?
That’s why the traditional sales process doesn’t work like it
today and how we need to adjust in order to deal with this massive
change in the buying process.
A TALE OF TWO EXPERIENCES
I’m guessing you’ve probably made it to a local or regional home and
garden show at least once in your lifetime. What comes to mind
when you think about that experience? Close your eyes and picture
the scene. I’m guessing it was NOT a relaxed, no-pressure scenario.
There were likely hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors – all of
them trying to grab your attention, give you a little tchotchke (yah,
that’s how it’s spelled! Bet you never thought about how to spell “tchotchke”
before!?!), sell you something, or get you to sign up for something.
I’d like to share a tale of two different experiences at the imaginary
local ABC Home Improvement Show...
The first experience goes like this...(imagine you’re the
consumer for a minute)
You’re excited for the Home Show this year because you’ve decided
to remodel your kitchen some time in the next 12 months or so, and
you’re looking forward to learning a lot and possibly connecting with
someone who can help.
You walked by my booth (let’s pretend I’m a home remodeler), and I
was lucky enough to get your attention and have a short conversation
with you about your kitchen and some of the ideas you have. We chat
a little bit, and you’re kind enough to share your email with me so I
can follow up with you after the show. You move along with the rest
of your day at the show – interacting with several other remodelers.
Then, a day or two after the show, you get an email from me with a
link to an article I wrote that relates to the very situation you
explained to me at the show. No selling, just offering a helpful article
based on our conversation – something that provides a little
information to help in your research.
A few days later, you get a postcard in the mail with a link to
download a free e-book that shares the “Top 10 Things to Consider
When Remodeling Your Kitchen.” Along with the e-book download,
there’s an option to request a free consultation in your home; but
you’re not quite ready to jump in just yet. You’re still gathering
Ten days pass by, and you receive another email from me with a note
to check in and a link to another blog or video that relates to your
kitchen project. No pressure, no urgency to act. Just helpful
information and an offer to talk more if you’d like.
How are you feeling right about now?
Now, the second experience is quite different...
It starts the same. You walk by my booth, and I was lucky enough to
get your attention.
But, this time I pressure you out of the isle for a minute to hear what
I have to say. We’re giving away a free iPad, so that’s where I begin.
“Fill out this form to be entered to win a free iPad,” I explain.
I ask if you’ve got any plans to make changes in your home soon, and
you share a little about your upcoming kitchen remodel plans. I tell
you about the discounts we’re offering if you start your project by the
end of the month; and you say you’re not quite ready to start yet, but
you fill out the form for the iPad drawing. You figure, “Why not?”
A week later, you receive an email offering a discount on all
remodeling services, as long as you begin your project by the end of
the month. You ignore the email because you’re not ready to jump in
just yet. You’re still gathering information.
A week later, you get another email offering an even bigger discount
and an urgent message that says the offer will disappear if you don’t
respond in two days. You have to “click here” to schedule an
appointment right away!
You unsubscribe and delete the email.
Which version did you like? Which one made you feel better? Which one built
credibility with you as the consumer?
Interruption vs. Engagement
This scenario can play out in any number of ways – not just for remodelers at home shows. The difference is engagement versus interruption. Effective marketing today is focused on engagement, not just trying to sell you my stuff, but rather trying to help you make the best decision for your particular situation.
Is your marketing engaging, or are you following the old-school
selling model of interruption?
If you’re stuck in the “interruption” mode of marketing, it’s time to
make a change. Customers are buying differently. No matter what
business you’re in, HELPING IS THE NEW SELLING.