Serving them as best you can
When you’ve decided on an audience that you want to serve, be it independent bar owners looking to manage staff better, CEOs who want to spend more time with their family, single women who want to travel the world safely, or any other audience. You need to make the conscious decision to serve them as best you can.
Serving an audience as best you can, means putting aside your fears about rejection, procrastination and perfection.
Commit to an audience
When you decide that you’re going to commit to an audience and try to make their life better, it’s very easy to start getting lost in plans, strategies and getting your tactics perfect. The best example I can give for this, is refusing to create and publish content on a free platform such as YouTube or a blog.
When we serve an audience and we’re truly committed to serving our audience, we don’t worry that our YouTube videos aren’t as good as everybody else’s. We don’t worry that we might have a few typos or an un-optimised blog post.
You don’t have a choice
Frankly this is staggering that even still a debate. I can tell an enormous amount about a salesperson, or a business owner, by the amount of free content they’re willing to create and publish and promote.
The first objection given to me when I begin exploring this idea is “I’m not a writer, I’m not a filmmaker, I wouldn’t know where to start” etc.
And as I mentioned, your true commitment to a cause or audience, means you have to ignore your fears about what you currently are or are not. The sales people and businesses that I have seen grow, compared to those who stagnate, have one massive difference.
The sales team that is trying to serve their audience as best as they can, and creates free useful, valuable information and content, will win.Fact
When we talk about sales, the first thing that people want to blame a lack of sales on is a lack of leads. People talk about cold calling, advertising and all other methods of attracting interested parties.
Many businesses struggle with cash flow and simply don’t have the resources to invest in paid lead generation activities. But when we stop thinking about lead generation, and start thinking about serving our audience as best we can, you will repeatedly come back to 1 option, create free content.
I’ve heard every objection the book. There is literally nothing that you could say now, I haven’t heard before or someone else hasn’t told me.
- I’m not a good writer
- I’m not confident on camera
- I’ve never made a video before
- I don’t know how to record a podcast
- My spelling is not a great
- I don’t know how to help my audience
- I haven’t got anything interesting to say
- The market is saturated
- There’s too much content out there already
- I don’t have time
Every single one of these is an excuse, based around fear. There also is not a industry or product or service in the world that has not benefited from someone producing content for the audience.
You don’t have to do start right now after reading this paragraph, but you do have to accept that serving your audience as best as you can, will help you attract more customers and leads.
Start bad, git gud
And the way that you serve that audience as best you can, is to start producing things that you are not very good at. A productivity software company that I worked with, had a sales team of around 20 people in total, including account managers and internal sales.
Two of their sales guys took this information on board, and started writing useful content for the audience they were trying to attract. It was originally posted on LinkedIn and yes, the first few posts were too short, too long, had typos, not well formatted, and didn’t really garner much attention.
But they just took a common question every single day and wrote a couple of paragraphs about it. Over time they could start referring this content manually, to their customers.
Let me send you a link
It wasn’t even that long before their current customers and new leads, asked the same questions. The ability to say “I’ve written about this let me send you a link”, is an instant trust builder.
It is also demonstrating that you are willing to serve that audience without a direct financial gain.
As salespeople, sales teams and business owners, we might complain that customers think we are only in it for the money. Then prove them wrong!
By creating low quality bad content at the start, within a few months you’ll have amassed a library of much better content. Within a year you’ll have even better higher quality content and you won’t have to manually refer people to any more.
You’ll start attracting an audience who didn’t know that you existed previously, to your content. It’s not quick, it’s not overnight, it’s not easy. It requires dedication day in day out. But it is the most solid way of proving that you care about an audience.
Serving an audience “as best you can”, is a specific turn of phrase. Even when you have no customers, no budget and no following. You’re still trying to help people “as best you can”. You’ll have a smart phone, or a digital camera, or a laptop.
If you’re doing something for the immediate financial gain and reward, you’re not serving an audience. If you’re only willing to give them a product or service when you deem it perfect, you’re not serving them as best you can.
Everyone is a salesperson
By the way the two sales guys who worked with this software company, and created their own content were initially poked fun at. Lots of salespeople thought it was a waste of time to create content for customers that didn’t exist.
Both of those sales guys have now set up their own company, and earn a lot more than the sales guys who refuse to start doing it today.
Believing in a cause strongly enough to try and convince others
Whenever I tell people that I help businesses and customers with their sales approach, the closing approach, prospecting etc. A lot of people tell me the same thing “I couldn’t possibly do sales”.
Which is absolute nonsense. Everyone is a salesperson
When you think about your favourite TV show, movie, book. Whatever piece of content that you consumed and rated 10/10. It could be a blog post, YouTube channel, a film. It doesn’t matter, because the next thing I want you to do, is imagine is someone who’s never seen it.
Have you had a conversation with someone whether told you they absolutely love a specific genre, or a particular topic or an author, and you ask them “have you seen The Dark Knight?” or “have you read 1984?”
“You haven’t seen The Dark Knight?!”
When someone tells you that they haven’t read or seen something that you absolutely love, but they’ve given you all the indicators that show they might be interested in something that you love, do you shut up about it?
Of course you don’t. You talk to them about how good the book, the film, the TV show, the podcast, the YouTube channel, the blog post, the video game or whatever is. You tell them that if they like superhero films, they’ll love The Dark Knight. Tell them that if they love Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, they’ll love 1984.
The same goes for travel destinations, workout types, diets, camera equipment, furniture, art. Anything that people connect to, will create raving fans and people who won’t shut up about it.
Imagine believing in a cause that really mattered. Perhaps you already do have a cause in mind. For me I believe that I have to get sales training into the hands of every child in school in the world, as people who are competent at making sales don’t take stupid risks.
Make it matter
I also believe that the way that work is produced across the world will rapidly change over the next 10 years, and being trained to do a job, will not be as important as learning how to solve global problems.
You don’t have to have a charitable cause or a typically humanitarian cause, in order to feel strongly about it. There are absolutely people who want to eliminate Third World debt, poverty and malaria. There are organisations dedicated to making the oceans a safer place or making our forests and jungles safer.
One of the mistakes people make as they try to choose a cause that they think others will be either impressed by, or more likely to connect with. If you’ve got absolutely no connection to a cause, it will cause burnout eventually. You’ll spend so much energy pretending that you care about something, when you really don’t.
Believe in something you believe in
That’s not to say that genuinely believing in a cause isn’t exhausting, but it’s exhausting for different reasons. It’s still hard work but you’re more likely to stick at it, even when you’re not being paid (which is a guarantee at some point).
When you believe so strongly in a cause such as sales training or physical health or mental health. Saving the oceans, saving endangered species, helping emerging countries deal with debt, poverty and slavery. You’ll find you won’t be to shut up about it.
That’s one of the core components to overcoming typical selling fears.
It’s to identify with a cause so deeply, and to understand the root problem so well, that you don’t care when people turn around you and say “no”.
You’ll spend every waking second you have, trying to get the word out and helping people. Let’s say for example that you understand and empathise with the struggles that C-Level directors of FTSE 500 face. They don’t spend enough time with their family, they might be out of shape, and they want to help the world with their products and services.
Your route understanding of their situation and how their life could be better, means you are more likely to attract them as an audience. It also means you’re more likely to attract partnership and supplier opportunities for businesses who also target that area.
If you believe that the oceans need to be better looked after, wouldn’t it makes sense to do everything you can to help companies that also try to achieve that goal? If you have a marketing process that can help plastic free businesses find more customers, doesn’t that make it a good moral decision to help those businesses find more customers?
Does it make sense for you to help plastic free businesses take money away from companies that produce a lot of plastic or don’t care about the ocean?
With the CEO example above, if you can help families spend more time with a loved one, wouldn’t you argue that’s a morally good thing to do? If that CEO runs a company that helps make small business IT infrastructures safer, doesn’t it make more sense to help that CEO do their job as best they can?
The key to believing in a cause that you’re willing to push past objections, rejection and apathy, is to understand the consequences of that cause succeeding or failing.
When you understand the world is a better place when your cause reaches its goals, or it is a worse place if that cause fails, you are now beginning to serve an audience better than any average salesperson or business.
When you understand those consequences, you can do everything you can to convince other people. You become evangelical about your own position and ideas. You’ll attract people who value the same things you do, and they in turn will turn into customers. If you offer them solutions for the cause, to make people’s lives better, you’ll never be short of customers.
It also transcends sales tactics and skills. Someone talking with passion and enthusiasm is far more likely to make a sale, compared to someone who knows the rules of the game, but has no conviction in what they’re saying.
One of my favourite models is how sales is a transference of enthusiasm.
If you can make someone else enthusiastic about your cause, your sales tactics and skills will go much further. So many people are weak at sales because they have no conviction about what it is they’re doing. They don’t understand how it makes people’s lives better so therefore the non-enthusiastic about it.
When you don’t care how your software, website, accounting service, motivational training, sports therapy massages, sprint training, gardening services, productivity software or any other product or service makes people’s lives better. You’re always going to struggle to make sales.
When you understand the consequences of both yourself and your cause succeeding or failing, you don’t have time to face rejection or worry about perfection or procrastination, as you know how important it is to get out there.
Expert status and admiration from your audience is not based on being really good at sales or running the best business. It’s based on your conviction to further the cause and make people’s lives better.