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As a consumer and business executive, it’s incredibly frustrating to sit through a sales pitch from a company trying to sell you something by feature dumping with absolutely no regard for your intellectual curiosity. We have so much access to data and content — wouldn’t it be great if the brand took a minute to educate you instead of sell to you?

Before I launched YieldStreet, an alternative investment platform, I did a lot of research to educate myself on the industry. And this made me realize something: People are (rightfully) afraid to put their money into something they don’t understand.

To make the sales process painless for both parties, I decided to make education a key point of our customer engagement and sales process. Through YieldStreet University, our team can share captivating content and user-friendly tools with prospects and clients to help them understand the benefits of alternative investments.

Describing disruptive, innovative products or services to consumers is a pain point for many companies. To simplify complex concepts, try building a robust customer education program that you can use in the field and let prospects explore on their own.

Educating Customers and Empowering Sales Teams

When developing a customer education program, remember it’s all about them. You’re not selling a product or service; you’re providing solutions in a simple, engaging format so your audience can digest your offering and then act on it.

1. Don’t sell — teach. 

On average, people are bombarded with 3,000 marketing messages every day. To stand out from the crowd, research your customer’s specific needs, and tailor your company’s educational component to meet those.

For YieldStreet University, we wanted to marry the concepts behind three popular online resources. Using TED as a blueprint for creating engaging video content, we then incorporated Khan Academy-style infographics and visuals to simplify complicated information, as well as high-level but digestible material, a la Investopedia. This provides our prospects with a lot of learning options and our team with crucial sales tools.

2. Let data drive your content. 

Where do you lose customers in your sales cycle? Target content to address those points. Start by answering questions you receive through social media, customer interactions, and surveys.

Studying back-end data, we see how they interact with our content and shift direction to provide the information they require to make a decision. We can gauge how well the content’s working by how long it takes prospects to actually invest in our offerings. Our average sales cycle was 75 days in 2015. Thanks at least in part to YieldStreet University, it was down to 11 days by the fourth quarter of 2016.

3. Make customer success the foundation of your sales process. 

We’re not selling an investment tool and then cutting investors loose. Our sales team is really an “investor success team” that shows prospects why investing is important and what makes our product different.

The idea is for customers to make their own choices on the platform, and the patterns they follow when interacting with our University content helps build our sales process. Generally, they fall into three buckets:

  • Basic FAQsOften, salespeople are so motivated to sell the product that they gloss over the simplest of questions. Providing the answer to “How do I get paid back?” upfront helps draw prospects into our funnel.

  • General educational questions: Directing prospects to charts and infographics that clearly explain complex issues boosts our credibility. Customers come to trust us as a resource moving forward.

  • Specific questions about products and offeringsIn this bucket, prospects can dive into specific product details. Our sales team relies on this University content as a key knowledge base.

Take a closer look at how you’re educating your prospects and customers. Are you dumping information and jargon on them to sell products? Or are you building credibility and increasing their comprehension with tools they actually need and will use?

An effective customer education program focuses on one thing: your customers’ success.

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Milind Mehere is a passionate serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of YieldStreet. YieldStreet’s mission is to build prosperity for all by connecting investors to high-yield alternative investments that are unavailable to most. Milind has successfully built and scaled three businesses; his last company, Yodle, was acquired by Web.com for $342 million in 2016.