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We Don’t Need More Relationships

Okay, I know that title of this post may seem like a harsh way to make a point, but things have changed a bit.

There was a time when marketing was about creating the message and sales was all about creating relationships – you got to know a prospect, maybe a lunch, then golf and now we can talk business.

But, who has time for that kind of thing anymore. I mean, now we’ve got 25,439 Twitter relationships we have to get to and please, you just left another voice mail?

I’m not saying that human contact and relationship building isn’t essential, I’m saying that things have flipped around to a large extent.

Make a business case first

Today you must prove your value, make a business case for why a prospect should take your call, email or connection request, before you earn the permission to go deeper.

Test this out – did you wake up today with the hope that you would meet a new entrepreneur or salesperson hoping to come tell you about their products. I’m guessing no, but you may have woken up today and thought, “I sure need to figure out how to get more from my marketing efforts,” or something of that sort.

So now you might actually be receptive to an article written by someone that addresses that very subject. And upon reading that article you might start thinking – “I wonder what it would be like if this person consulted with our business?”

Perhaps your next move might be to Google the author of that piece and jump on over to LinkedIn to see what others are saying about her.

You may indeed move to email to invite her to answer a specific question you have and that may very well lead to a meeting where you walk through a case study of a business just like yours getting the precise result you’re hoping for.

Then a relationship can happen

At this point you may be convinced that this person has the experience and talent to help your meet your objectives.

Once that conclusion is drawn you may become very interested in a full blown relationship where other elements of your business are on the table, things unrelated to your business are discussed and ultimately your hopes and dreams can be explored.

Maybe that point in a relationship never forms, but the experience and relationship that grows from that experience is what makes you stay and what gets you talking.

Relationships for relationship sake or, worse, as a tool to convince someone to buy from you, are a thing of the past and have little place in a world driven by technology connection points.

You must work to earn the opportunity to connect by providing business value early on. You must figure out how to connect others, share insights, prove that time spent with you will be worth it.

I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it’s a reality. Unless and until you build such a strong personal brand that people want to spend time with you for the sake of doing so, you need to think in terms of delivering value first and building relationship as a product of that.

Personal relationships in business matter, perhaps as much as ever, but they come as a result of building trust by making a solid business case first.

Why Teaching Is Such a Sexy Way to Sell

Okay, I’ll admit it, I was trying to get your attention with the inclusion of the word sexy in the title of this post, but before you cry foul, sexy as an adjective simply means desirable, interesting, appealing – all good things when it comes to attracting clients.

Teaching Sells

photo credit: theirhistory via photopin cc

Everyone knows that today you must educate if you want to build trust. But, may I suggest that teaching what you know how to do is also a powerful way to go beyond trust to closing more deals.

I’m not simply suggesting that you demonstrate your expertise. I’m talking about going to the point where you show someone, anyone, precisely how you do what you do.

Now, some might propose that this is a sure way to put yourself out of business. I mean, if you show someone how you do your magic tricks, they won’t need you.

Here’s the deal. Some people may actually take the information you share and figure they can take the DIY path, but I’m guessing those folks aren’t your ideal prospect anyway.

What I know is that some other people will conclude that you actually do know what you’re talking about and further, what you just explained is a whole lot harder than they imagined and would you please now charge them a premium to do it for them.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is sexy!

I have a client who came to this brilliant conclusion in this manner.

She is a photographer that specializes in taking infant and child portraits and candids.

Her competition is every other photographer and every parent with an $800 camera. Let’s just say there’s some significant price pressure in this arena.

So what does she do?

She starts holding free classes to teach all of those parents with their new $800 cameras how to take better pictures of their babies.

What, you say, that makes no sense at all.

Turns out the demand for this type of teaching is huge and she fills up class after class.

But, what you might not have guessed is that about 30% of the participants also hire her to take photos of junior for her full studio price.

Also turns out people had no idea how hard it is to take really awesome pictures and now the only person they will trust to take really awesome pictures of their child is my photographer client.

Oh, and now she charges for the classes too and still generates significant business from students.

So, what can you teach that will make your business more desirable, interesting, and appealing.

See, it turns out teaching is a pretty sexy way to sell.

How to Social Surround Your Customers and Prospects

social surround

photo credit: aenimation via photopin cc

While the title of this post could sound a little stalkerish, the fact is you can better serve your customers and attract new ones when you use social media to create a more complete picture of your ideal customer’s world.

Employing tools and routines that give you a deeper glimpse into what your customers care about, are doing each day, can’t find enough of, are looking for, just accomplished, just completed, just lost, just attended or just got let down by is how you discover ways to serve, add value and build deeper relationships.

Below are five elements of a social surround game plan.

The usual suspects

It should probably go without saying that the first step is to friend, follow and like. Make sure that the social network activity on the biggest networks is at your fingertips. Social CRM tools like Nimble make it easy to view a more complete customer record and browser add-ons like Rapportive bring social data into email tools such as Gmail. Create Twitter lists of customers and prospects and quickly scan them for actionable bits using a tool like Hootsuite.

Go deeper

Don’t stop at simply connecting with your customers on LinkedIn. Take a good hard look at who else they connect to, who influences them and who they report to. Most networks will show you who someone follows and understanding this can lead to opportunities to connect deeper through already shared connections, find new avenues for expanded business with existing customers and better understand how your customers network. Look at a customer’s “favorited” Tweets, check out Klout to see who your customer interacts with most and see what Groups your customer participates in on LinkedIn for additional clues into what your customer’s passions might be. Sometimes learning more about who else your customer is connected to is more important than simply connecting.

Custom listening

Now it’s time to get smarter about what’s going on in your customer’s world and using that information to add value. Use a tool like Talkwalker to set up custom alerts that relate to your customer’s market or product and look for ways to share this information with your customer. Create industry or keyword specific pages in Scoop.it or aggregate the best blogs posts on a industry by using a tool like AllTop and simply share four or five interesting links in what amounts to a custom newsletter.

Subscribe and join

Don’t forget to subscribe to your customer’s blog and newsletter. Sign up for their in person and online events and use your listening tools from above to keep up on announcements and news. Make sure that you have easy access to all of the content your customers are putting out as it can often provide clues for new opportunities and relationship building discussion points.

Create connection

My final point is a big one. When you effectively mine your customer’s social graph looking for deeper understanding you are more prepared to help them meet all of their objective, even those not related to your business – and that’s how you create unbelievable value and loyalty. Use your listening, connecting and mining routines to look for opportunities to create connections for your customers. Introduce them to journalists you’ve built relationships with. Connect them with that killer programmer you saw them Tweet about needing. Help them fill the VP of Sales position they just mentioned on LinkedIn.

When you employ to right tools and routines to monitor and engage in this manner social media participation will always pay off.

Rules For Modern Selling

Marketing Podcast with Bill Caskey

20-RULES-FOR-MODERN-SELLING-FREE-EBOOK-250The game of selling has not really changed that much – the job is to build relationships, provide value and help people solve their problems – in the end, if you are to succeed, that means selling things.

What has changed dramatically, however is the way you accomplish many of these things. The way you sell must change because the way people buy has certainly changed.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, is Bill Caskey, founder of Caskey Sales Training and author of Same Game, New Rules.

In this show Caskey contends that the way you show up and even how you as a seller are positioned must change.

I start my upcoming book, Duct Tape Selling, off with the idea that in order for those who sell to succeed they must change the entire context of how a salesperson in viewed in the world.

Listen to the interview and then grab this free report called 20 Rules for Modern Selling

A Bevy of Educational Opportunities

To celebrate the launch of my next book Duct Tape Selling I am presenting a series of webinar across the universe. Below you can find the list and register away if any pique your interest!

Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar

Duct Tape SellingAs some of you may have heard I have a new book coming out May 15th.

The title is Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar and I’m conducting a free webinar for my readers on April 16th to kick off some of the content.

While the title definitely rings of selling, the book is being heralded by reviewers as a more personal way to market and sell. In fact, some have noted that this is the book that might get sales and marketing working together.

Either way, I hope you’ll join me for this content rich session where I’ll talk about how to:

  • Find and attract ideal clients
  • Communicate a core message of difference
  • Build a reputation for delivering value
  • Create an inbound attraction platform
  • Use social media to build authority and trust
  • Create a marketing and sales process that will allow you to stand out from the crowd

As with all of my webinars you can expect lots of content and lots of takeaways. I won’t be pitching the book too much, but there will be some prizes and special stuff.

Reserve your spot here

Are You Building a Job or an Asset?

Many of the business owners I’ve worked with and spoken with over the years have deluded themselves into believing they actually have a business.

building an asset

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

True, their business card and tax return might say business owner, but far too often what they’ve created is a job – and is some cases, not a very attractive job.

A business will never truly serve until you view what you are building as an asset. Now, I’m no accountant, but an asset is something that has lasting value – the kind people will pay to acquire. An asset is something that can retain its value even if you move on and pursue other interests, like taking a month to trek across Australia.

A job on the other just stops being a job when you decide to quit doing it.

Building an asset is much harder than building a job. It’s actually not that hard to get people to pay you for doing something they don’t know how to or don’t want to do.

Building an asset takes investing in you, in others, in creating things that didn’t exist before, in following through on audacious ideas. Building an asset almost always means letting go of your current thinking, finding ways to think bigger and surrounding yourself with people that lift you rather than hold you back.

Community as Asset

Brian Clark of Copyblogger realized early on that his path to building an asset was to first build a rabid community of people eager to hear from him. As any Copyblogger reader knows he did this by creating and giving incredible value through educational content.

As the community grew he added more resources and writers to increase the content output. As the community continued to grow he responded to the needs and requests of the community and built product after product that matched the needs of his community.

Today, the Copyblogger community snaps up every new solid offering and has allowed Clark to create a rather profitable asset rather than a job.

Building as Asset

A client of mine, Sam Beckford, runs an incredibly successful group of music and dance studios in British Columbia. Sam was not from the industry so when he and his wife started the business he poured most of his efforts in to building a business that didn’t require him to be there to run it.

He’d also been a successful real estate investor over the years so it was quite natural for him include a building purchase in his plans. As his studio grew and expanded he started getting requests from other studios to teach them his approach.

He turned his method into a coaching program and began to encourage every studio client to buy or build their studio in an effort to guarantee that no matter what happened to the actual business, they would own an asset that allowed them to gain some return on their investment in the building of a business.

Now, of course, most of his coaching clients also happen to run terrifically successful studios, but they also own an asset that will multiply their ability to cash out rather than simply retire.

Work as Asset

I’ve been speaking with lots of sales groups lately due to the upcoming release of my sales oriented book Duct Tape Selling.

One of the things I’ve been imploring sales folks to do is to look at their work in building authority, a content platform and expertise as an asset vs. a chore.

Think about all the people you know that decide to get an MBA or some other type of training to advance their careers. Often they do this a night and around their family’s schedule.

Writing blog posts, learning how to navigate social media, deeply exploring a prospect’s community, providing value through content curation and volunteering to speak at industry events all take time.

Done correctly, however, each will allow you to build an asset that you can use to serve your customer and your company in deeper ways.

And, one of the greatest values of an asset of this nature is that it’s mostly portable. Your reputation, expertise and authority can move with you in the service of even greater opportunities.

Asset mindset is the only way to build a business or career that allows you to live the life you choose more fully.

Duct Tape Selling Site and Blog

I’ve launch a new website and blog to coincide with the launch of my upcoming book Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. (May 15th)

Duct Tape Selling

Like many book related sites I feature comments, news and reviews. There is a growing collection of blog posts related to sales and marketing and you can even download and read the 1st Chapter and Introduction if you like.

But, the page that you’ll find most useful whether you ever acquire the book or not is the resource page. This is where I list and link to every person, company and tool that I talk about in the book on a chapter by chapter basis. You won’t have the context without the book, but you’ll have a lot of fun clicking on and discovering some new resources.

Jump over and start exploring and let me know if you would like to contribute to the Duct Tape Selling blog!