Gone are the days when retailers held all the cards. In the bad old days, if you were buying a car you walked in to the dealer pretty much blind. The dealer knew what he paid for the car, what the car was costing him to keep in inventory, and what kind of pressure he might be feeling from the manufacturer. You knew nothing.
Now, thanks to the intertubes, you can be on equal footing with the car dealer and almost every other kind of retailer you buy from, whether B2C or B2B. In some cases, you might know more than the salesperson sitting across from you.
If you’re the salesperson or marketer, though, the picture looks a lot less rosy. Which is why it makes good sense to transition your thinking from controlling the sales cycle to guiding the buying process.
This is one of content marketing’s strengths. By engaging your audience and understanding the problems they’re trying to solve – and addressing them – you can move with them along their decision-making process. You transition from an “Always be closing” mindset to an “always be educating” mindset.
The education or guidance you provide can take the form of webinars and industry events, a strong social media presence, great how-to articles, or in-depth case studies on your website or blog. It can be as simple as picking up the phone to answer questions rather than trying to close.
Instead of pushing clients in the direction you want them to go, you’re guiding them. Yes, if you’re doing this well you’re guiding them toward the decision you want them to make, but you’re guiding them along a path they’ve chosen.
To go back to our car dealer, instead of pounding away at the virtues of your model vs. the competition’s, perhaps you invite new parents to watch a video: How To Properly Adjust an Infant’s Car Seat. It’s not about selling your product – it’s about addressing what’s on your buyers’ minds as they’re making their purchase decision.
In short, the more you can align your passions with those of your customers, the more productive your sales and marketing will be. It’s not about selling harder; it’s about solving problems more easily.