Know when not to sell. Take the No Pitch Pledge.
In Part I, we talked about how to improve your sales call results by actually doing less selling and more communicating. Now that your reps have taken the No Pitch Pledge and are all wildly successful sales consultants and business partners, let’s talk about the importance of removing your sales pitch from other types of communications, particularly what I call “value-added content.”
Defining Two Types of Communications
There’s a real subtlety between general marketing communications and value-added content. Traditional MarCom has a feature/benefit format, and typically includes brochures, website pages, presentation and proposal templates (before you customize them), mailers, etc. The goal is to describe and differentiate your company and products, so buyers at least understand what you have to offer and general costs. Pitch away here, no worries. But you may want to worry about how effective these communications really are.
Value-added content offers much more to the recipient, and can ultimately sell your company much better than any website or brochure. It should share your overall knowledge and expertise, providing strategies and advice that will help recipients improve business effectiveness and results. Examples of value-added content include white papers, seminars, trade articles, newsletters, benchmarking reports, etc. These most likely cover broader ground than just your specific products, although your products may be an implied part of the overall solution. Avoid the temptation to pitch here, as you will greatly diminish the value of the content.
You’ll want to offer both types of communications, but real challenge is maintaining the separation between Church and State – keeping your sales pitch out your value-added content. Here’s an example of what not to do.
Don’t Do This
I attended a webinar last week that was advertised as a discussion on new email marketing practices. That’s right up my alley, and I’m always looking for new ideas to steal. The presenters were introduced, and they started to give an overview of XYZ Company and its email marketing products. I always expect a brief sponsor pitch somewhere during a free webinar, so I continued to listen. Unfortunately, the pitch never ended. After 25 minutes, I closed my screen and went back to work.
While the webinar was advertised as information that could help me do my job better, it was actually about why I should buy XYZ Company products. Translation — sales pitch.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Pretend that you are a prospective buyer who was enticed to attend based on the promise of new ideas. How would you feel? Here’s what I thought:
- I was there to learn about email marketing, not XYZ Company’s products.
- There was no way that XYZ Company could understand my unique needs, since I’ve never talked to them.
- Trying to pitch to all audience members resulted in a very vague message that provided me with no informational (or even sales) value.
- I wasn’t expecting a sales pitch, and felt deceived. This would negatively impact my willingness to purchase from XYZ Company in the future.
So think about this as you develop your own value-added content. Remember to educate your audience about a concept, not a product. Think about the things that will make your buyers more productive and effective, beyond just what you have to offer them. Share your knowledge, experience, and aggregate data with your buyers, and they will share their budgets with you… and your content with their peers…