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August 26, 2015

Seek first to help… then to sell

helpLast week was the inaugural Instant Impact™, a 1/2-day virtual workshop on marketing and sales in the market research industry. (By the way, it was awesome!) If there was an underlying theme to the event – although, interestingly, an unintentional one – it was this, “Seek first to help… then to sell.” And it applied equally to both the marketing and sales portions of the program.

This philosophy works for a lot of reasons…

  1. In an industry that does not generally embrace ‘sales’ or ‘salespeople,’ helping first is a genuine, non-threatening way to begin a business relationship (a.k.a. the buying-selling process).
  1. Helping provides you with an opportunity to showcase your expertise and thought leadership when you share valuable information… and in doing so, also helps to position your firm in the marketplace.
  1. People, inherently, want & need to return a favor done for them. A little quid pro quo, if you will. That response could come in the form of a simple ‘thank you’ note… or better yet, a willingness to “take that sales meeting” (if the ‘help’ was significant enough).

So, what is your firm doing to help your prospective clients (and existing clients, for that matter)? For example…

  • Are you sharing useful information (blog posts, articles, eBooks, etc.)… information that can help the reader/viewer to do their job better (whether you created the information or are sharing someone else’s)?
  • Have you ever delivered a presentation to one of your clients as a lunch-n-learn?
  • What about offering discounted tickets to a conference in which you are exhibiting to (most show organizers make them available to their exhibitors and sponsors)?
  • Have you taken the time to connect your clients & prospects with other firms that could turn into vendors, clients or partners for them?

It’s not really hard to do this… it only requires these two things:

  1. A little time and effort
  1. A since desire to help others

Yes, ‘helping’ is a business development strategy… but if you do it only for that reason, it will come across as self-serving and disingenuous.

But if you genuinely care about people and want to help others – without a ‘requirement’ that you get something in return (though that will happen!) – you run the risk of being recognized as a valuable resource in our industry… as someone others can rely on for help… as a trusted representative of a firm that others will want to do business with.

Now who would want that?

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