Nearly every sales or marketing framework you see makes the same mistake: it puts your company — the seller — at the center of the universe.

In reality, you are competing against numerous forces that stretch from known competitors to upstarts to inertia (it’s hard to sell against the status quo). While you are drawing game plans that map your company in relation to your prospects, the modern buyer is doing everything in her power to avoid any sort of sales pitch.

The modern B2B buyer recognizes that her company has unmet needs. She or her team goes about gathering knowledge. Most seek insights from sources that have four basic qualities in common:

They are easily identified as being experts.

They are empathetic, meaning that they can identify with — and understand — the buyer’s needs and circumstances.

They are clear and easy to understand, especially when complex issues are present (which is almost always).

Above all else, they are trustworthy. The slightest hint of any vested interest will destroy such a perception.

While the modern buyer is seeking knowledge and processing it, the typical sales and marketing operation is selling. This creates a cat and mouse circumstance that might be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and often futile. The buyer is trying to buy, but the seller is trying to sell. They aren’t the same thing. In fact, they are in direct conflict.

Step back for a second. What should a seller be doing while a buyer is seeking knowledge? You ought to be acting like someone she is looking for, instead of someone who wants to target and hunt her down.

Content is the currency of the modern sales professional. It’s why I’m writing this article, because it will go out to your community. Go swim where the fish are already swimming. Be a colleague instead of an annoyance. I’ll go swim in your pond and people who are also swimming in your pond will see me and ask, “Who is this dolphin?” Then they’ll see all this great stuff I publish and curate, and maybe they’ll follow me on Twitter.

You should do this, too.

Buyers are avoiding sales people in the early stages of the buying process because they are avoiding pushy-pushy-selly-selly-pitchy-pitchy-always-be-closing behaviors. But if sellers demonstrate that they have information, insights, resources, and networks — that is, real value to add — it’s like a magnet attracting buyers to the sales professional.

So if you don’t want buyers to be allergic to you, then leverage content, create engagement, and share meaningful insights. Demonstrate value early.

Share content that the buyer perceives as possessing the four qualities she is seeking.

If you understand your buyer, you can anticipate her learning curve. You can understand her needs, motivations, concerns, and potential confusion.

If you recognize that the last thing she wants is a sales pitch, you can use content to create safe, nonintrusive ways to help her up the learning curve — long before she ever talks to anyone at your firm.

Now let’s take this a step further. If the modern B2B buyer wants to spend most of her buying process interacting with expert, empathetic, clear, and trustworthy sources, is it in your interest to have a public profile that makes you look like a quota-crushing sales genius?

No way.

Experts demonstrate expertise by sharing defendable, relevant, and insightful content.

By interacting online in a highly responsive and perceptive manner, you can show how empathetic you are. Use content as the currency to start a conversation, rather than to push your POV.

To be clear, you need to drop the hype and focus on the facts. Share them at every possible opportunity, and do your best to simplify — but not dumb down — complex challenges.

Finally, accept that the modern B2B buyer wants to buy, not be sold. In doing so, you can morph in her mind from a self-interested, overly aggressive spin merchant, to a trustworthy advisor or information concierge who is there to help when she needs help.

By the way, people don’t trust content from branded profiles — i.e., your company’s LinkedIn page — as much as they do from actual individual human beings. You gotta do this yourself.

Help your buyer solve her business challenges and reach her personal goals. Help your buyer buy. Use content to connect with her long before she is ready to deal with anything that reeks of a sales pitch.

Content equals currency.

If sellers demonstrate that they have information, insights, resources, and networks — that is, real value to add — it’s like a magnet”

Jill Rowley | Founder & Chief Evangelist, #SocialSelling
Watch Jill Rowley discuss how modern sales professionals are using content to be successful.
 
 
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