Are You “Adding Value to the Conversation”?

Are You “Adding Value to the Conversation”?

I was coaching a small start-up entrepreneur recently who was saying he was stuck.

He had been making a lot of calls, some cold, some warm, but he didn’t feel he was making any headway.  Prospects were showing resistance the moment they sensed he was pitching.

He’s an expert in his field and knows he has a lot to offer.  I actually think he’s brilliant.  But prospects don’t want to hear about his services.

That same day, an old friend of mine was telling me she was ready to make the big step.  She was going to start a blog, get a Twitter profile, and get rockin’ on LinkedIn.  But she was also stuck.  “What do you do once you start the blog and polish your profile?”  That big step was a giant leap.

This week, I was also working with an HR Director in a highly specialized industry, designing sales coaching for the company’s salespeople.  The salespeople are, well, specialists who receive extensive training on new, cutting-edge products.  But the market is changing fast, and the competitors are beginning to simply out-sell them.  Most of the company’s salespeople “don’t even know when they’re in a commercial conversation.  They want to talk product features and benefits.”

Welcome to today’s commercial process.  Yep.  Welcome to…

… Selling in the Brave New World.

The three situations above are different in some areas, but similar in at least one.  Whether you are using Twitter for business, blogging, approaching new clients, upselling existing clients, or, or, or…

… today, you must “add value to the conversation.”  That can be a face-to-face conversation, a discussion group on LinkedIn, or a marketing initiative.

Nobody wants to be “sold to.”  But just about everyone craves support in buying.  If you are perceived as a resource, as a genuine support person, the marketplace will welcome you.  Buyers will engage with you.

Marketing has had lots of definitions over the decades.  The one that I like the most for the Brave New World is this.  Marketing generates leads.  P.S. Sales converts them.

Effective marketing today is not about campaigns, it’s about initiating conversations.  Even the mammoth multi-nationals are trying to engage end-users in conversations.  Entrepreneurs would be wise to follow this wisdom.

So it follows that sales is not about pitching, it’s about leading conversations.

Are you behaving in the marketplace like a pitch man, or a resource?  Are you adding value to all your conversations?


Photo by Brian Colella: