How to increase sales by helping – not selling

By Tim Butler, Innovation Visual

Selling is now all about helping. The internet means there is a vast amount of information available online, which has led to a power shift in the sales process. If people want an answer to a question, then most people will go online to find it; the sales person is no longer the fountain of knowledge they once were.

Pushy sales tactics no longer work. The best way to achieve sales is through a policy of helping, not selling; by developing a structured process around helping your prospects, you can increase sales. This process is referred to as inbound sales.

Helping someone has the ability to shift the power of the sales process back into the hands of the seller. The important thing is to help the right people and offer the right advice. To do this you have to use marketing intelligence.

This information is gathered by tracking a person’s visits to your website and seeing which pages they visited, what blog posts they read, which whitepapers they downloaded, and beginning to build a real understanding of their interests, goals and concerns.

Engaging in this process means that before you even pick up the phone you know a lot about the person you are about to ring – and can deduce how to help them. Use other digital platforms, such as LinkedIn, to research the person you are about to call in more detail and find out about their business.

Do not start the call by offering a product or service that they can buy to help with x. Instead, say something like, ‘I saw you downloaded this whitepaper, so here is a case study about a client of ours who faced a similar challenge’.

Invest time in creating content and the necessary resources to provide relevant help whether this be a webinar, a whitepaper, an industry top tip, a guide or even a quick solution. If your company is not producing this content on a regular basis then this needs to change, fast.

Start by creating a blog section on your website. Post blogs on a regular basis that focus on key industry topics and challenges. Providing the answers to issues people may be facing can lead to them visiting your website where they can find out what solutions you offer to the problem they have. This help could ultimately lead to an enquiry, followed by a sale.

The ‘help’ approach to sales is not only refreshing for the consumer but means you are no longer a sales person cold calling someone entirely for your own benefit. Instead you are helping someone, and the call benefits the receiver.

The inbound sales process can be broken-down into simple steps:

  1. Inbound Marketing – employ an inbound marketing methodology, which is focused on providing helpful content, which draws people to your site.
  2. Marketing Intelligence – make sure you are tracking visits to your website, so you know who is visiting your website and what they are looking at.
  3. Provide Helpful Advice – you should know exactly how you are going to help before you pick up the phone.
  4. Open The Door To Further Conversation – if someone is willing to talk to you, then they are more likely to buy from you.
  5. Help, Don’t Sell – remember you’re helping, not selling. A full-on sales pitch too soon can deter the potential customer.

This sales approach suits human psychology. We are programmed to help each other, and this means if you help someone then they feel obliged to help you back; perhaps deciding that your product/service is the solution to overcoming the challenges they face. That first call to help them could lead to a sale further down the line. The most important thing is to be patient and build a relationship first by helping.

Tracking is essential to gain marketing intelligence. There are a number of different automation tools that can assist will tracking, sales and contact management. Implementing one of these provides companies with the ability to track visits to their website and gather information about that person’s visit. This then allows you to follow an inbound sales process.

The knowledge available to people now is vast. You can either continue to push generic information that your sales prospects can find themselves online or you can change your approach and help them. The future is about helping, not selling, so make sure you adapt your sales strategy to stay ahead of your business competition.