“Always be helping is the new always be closing”. In 2009, I coined this phrase during some long-winded, long-forgotten webinar on how the internet was changing consumer behavior. It was a pithy attempt to explain how companies would need to adapt their sales and marketing efforts in a world where the buyer was clearly in control. A recent search for the phrase “always be helping” shows that a number of really smart marketers have jumped on the bandwagon, using it as a battle cry for a new way to engage customers. It’s validation of a powerful concept, but thus far, always be helping (or ABH) has been just that – nothing more than a concept. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to explore how sales and marketing can put the concept of always be helping into practice. Here are ten ways that you can put always be helping to work in your organization:
Content selling is the practice of leveraging content to support sales as they facilitate the buyer’s progression through their buying process. Sales is trained to understand who the buyer is, where they are in the process, and what they need. Once they understand those factors, they use content, along with some strategically designed sales plays, to help move the buyer along. This approach is fundamentally different to the standard “close-close-close” approach and it works. Greg Alexander from Sales Benchmark Index is a major proponent of content selling and he told me in an interview that sales leaders who have adopted this approach are typically at 150% of quota and have a job expectancy rate of 3-4 years (versus the more typical 18 months). He has said on numerous occasions: “In the future, a piece of great content will outsell an average sales rep. The self-directed buyer will begin to make complex purchases with zero rep involvement. Scary for some. Exciting for others.”
Here are some of the best posts we read this week: Much of marketing and sales comes down to deciding when to give and when to take. Are you a giver or a taker? Sales people who have a strong desire to help generate 50% more revenue than their peers. In the Company of Givers and Takers “People remember the feeling more than they remember the price”. A great cartoon(!) on what what really drives customer loyalty. Print it out and pin it up! Loyalty Is… Last month’s post on customer engagement continues to be one of our most read. Inspired by the FBI’s Robin Dreeke, it showcases 10 techniques that sales and marketing can use psychology to create deeper engagement with customers. Customer Engagement: How Marketing and Sales Can Use Psychology to Drive Engagement
At TOPO, we work with some of the world’s best marketers. Over the years, we’ve recognized a number of shared habits and traits that these marketers possess. One of the most common traits that successful marketers exhibit is that they’ve given real thought to their marketing careers. While a marketing career can last 40 years or more, most marketers don’t spend enough time thinking about their careers in the long run. That’s understandable given that most professionals are busy satisfying the daily requirements of their current job. But there are some simple habits that marketers can develop to greatly improve the odds of having a long, rewarding career in marketing.
About 40% of sales people miss their number. Most sales executives and thought leaders cite classic issues like low quality leads, poor sales execution, and bad forecasting when trying to explain why such a large percentage of sales people underachieve. But often there’s a bigger issue at work that’s the root cause of the aforementioned challenges. That issue is sales people’s inability to understand what the buyer is really doing as they work their way to a purchase. There are a number of psychological and behavioral issues that cause sales people to misunderstand the buyer, but there are also a number of techniques you can employ to overcome these biases.
Here are some of the best posts we read this week: What if we all had phone number (and email address for that matter) that marketers paid to access? In return, we would guarantee some form of engagement. One man in England is doing exactly that. A New Way to Deal With Telemarketing Calls Steve Cheney has a great post on how startups can create strategic relationships with brands. It touches on one of our favorite topics – circumventing the agency. Hacking Startup Growth With Brands
If you work in sales, chances are you’ve recently heard the term sales enablement. Although it’s a hot topic, there seems to be some confusion around whether it’s just another vague buzzword or a specific field of practice that’s delivering real benefits to sales organizations. With that in mind, we set out to answer four basic questions about sales enablement:
- What is sales enablement?
- Why is it important?
- How is sales enablement practiced?
- Who owns sales enablement?
The Battle for Marketing, Huckleberry Bicycles, and Big Freaking Enterprises: The Best Posts We Read This Week
Some of the best posts we read this week: Good post on all of the vendors who are pushing hard into the CMO’s office (and budget). We think the real battle will be about point tools versus a consolidated suite. For various reasons, we think point tools win for the foreseeable future. The Battle for the Marketing Cloud A lot of small businesses have no idea where their customers come from. A great post on the very cool Huckleberry Bicycles highlights the challenge: “But why do more new people walk in each day? I don’t really know.” Starting a Bike Shop
Understanding the customer experience is one of today’s hottest topics and for good reason. Companies that become truly customer-centric (given that we focus on sales and marketing, we prefer the phrase buyer-centric) tend to outperform their peers on a number of fronts, including faster revenue growth, higher conversion rates, shorter buying cycles, and lower churn. Of course, the first step in becoming a buyer-centric organization is to understand the buying experience. For more information on how to really understand your buyer, check out our recent post on buyer research. But there’s a second step that’s just as important to becoming an organization that is built around the buyer. This step involves taking everything you’ve learned about the buyer and operationalizing it. This has implications for the entire organization, but you need to pay particular attention to the sales team, given that they are on the front lines of many buyer interactions (it’s also important that marketing get on the buyer bandwagon, but we find that this is less of a challenge given that marketing often spearheads the buyer research effort).
Five of the best posts we read this week: “This is it. This is what matters. The experience of the product” are the opening words of Apple’s Designed in California” commercial. It doesn’t make for good copywriting, but isn’t it really the experience of the person using the product that matters? In 20 years, We’re All Going to Realize this Apple Ad is Nuts An incredible story of how a CEO saved his company by completely changing target markets. Marlin Steel went from manufacturing wire bagel baskets for bagel stores to supplying industrial grade baskets to the world’s largest manufacturers. The Road to Resilience: How Unscientific Innovation Saved Marlin Steel