A Tale Of Two Experiences

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This is the beginning of a series where I'll be sharing a chapter from my book each week. To view all chapters of Stop Selling Start Helping, click here. To learn more about Stop Selling Start Helping, click here.


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...

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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
used to.

In this first section, we’ll discuss what’s different about the buyer
today and how we need to adjust in order to deal with this massive
change in the buying process.


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

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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.

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