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Why clever companies stop selling and start helping

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 14th September 2012

Why do some companies make it so hard for you to do business with them?

I’m thinking about broadband or mobile phone providers that make you jump over hurdles to switch provider. Gyms that tie you into long contracts. Or websites that make you fill in a form before giving you access to their price list.

There’s one reason, of course: they want to sell more stuff. Historically, this approach has been one that brands have used. Stamp out competition, tie people into long contracts and they will literally be forced to give you their hard earned cash.

Sell, sell, sell

Consumers have never liked this approach and, now, they can voice their dislike in a highly vocal way.

Technology levels the playing field and, when it comes to brand affinity, simple awareness is not enough. Having a product or service pushed down your throat is also no longer a winning strategy.

The ‘hard sell’ is seen for what it is; desperation. That’s why savvy companies are starting to move from  ‘always selling’ to ‘always helping’.

With the diminshing effectiveness of push marketing and a move towards positive brand engagement, ‘being helpful’ might sound trite but it can be incredibly powerful.

When it comes to being helpful, content marketing really comes into its own. Especially when we consider the B2B sales process. Here, buyers are making decisions about where to invest. Now, more than ever, we are unlikely to make a quick purchase without fully investigating all the options.

Help, help, help

Rather than pulling the wool over the eyes of prospects, it’s much more powerful to help them in their decision making quest.

Give them product comparison tables, answer their questions, supply them with whitepapers and other collateral that can help them justify their purchase to senior stakeholders.

And create communities where they can discuss needs with other customers and prospects.

If you have a great product or service, don’t go with the hard sell, but help your audience discover this greatness for themselves. The emotional bond will be far greater too.

Making life difficult, whether through a cloak and dagger approach or with a website where it’s impossible to send an enquiry without filling out War and Peace, just won’t work.

Don’t make it difficult, make it simple. Stop selling, start helping.

picture credit

Danny Whatmough