There was a time when I believed that teaching and selling were virtually the same thing. In many ways they are similar, and I’ve used the approach successfully quite a few times. Fact is, the more a prospect knows about the applications of your products and services, the closer you are to closing a deal. Problem is, most people don’t like being taught.
This is especially true when you don’t yet know the decision maker and influencers all that well and/or have yet to establish personal credibility. No one will readily admit their own ignorance to a relative stranger. Therein lies the conundrum. We keeping dragging the proverbial horse to water with the dismal results the cliché predicts. That’s where some insight from the 17th century scientist, Blaise Pascal delivers value:
“We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.”
In other words, our role as sales reps is to enable and facilitate learning. We need to make it easy for our customers to discover the reasons for investing in our stuff. We each need to become recognized as a fountain of relevant knowledge, by actually becoming a fountain of relevant knowledge. Here are 4 steps for making that happen:
- Learn more and faster than your customers: Read what they read, listen to the same podcasts, attend the same seminars; just do more and do it faster.
- Prove that you’re a prodigious learner: Write about what you learn. Write a lot! Write from a perspective that provides useful knowledge to your customers. For your really good stuff, create audio and/or video versions. A blog is an easy and excellent tool for this. (Actually, let me be more precise about this point… If you’re a rep without a blog, you’re nuts.)
- Provide pointers to relevant knowledge: Include links in your blog posts. Retweet lots and lots of the good, relevant content you find, and/or share updates via LinkedIn. LinkedIn and Twitter are essential sales tools. (Actually, let me be more precise about this point… If you’re a rep not aggressively using these tools, you’re nuts.)
- Sell yourself as a source of relevant knowledge: Construct every sales pitch around your ability to create, discover and share relevant knowledge. It’s not about you. It’s not about your company. It’s not about your products and services. It is all about serving by sharing knowledge. Folks might not like to be taught, but they sure are constantly hungry for new relevant knowledge.
Practice the above for 90 days or so, and you’ll see the difference. Customers will slowly come to realize that knowledge you help them discover is making them better, more efficient, more effective and more creative. They’ll seek you out and keep you happy with a steady stream of orders