Sales & Marketing


Strategies, tips & tricks, ideas and news for entrepreneurs.

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This morning I was featured on the B2B Growth Show, discussing my latest article The Art of No Deal.

It was a great time, and Logan is a great host. I’ve been a long time listener, and honored to make an appearance.

As salespeople, we train ourselves to pursue and close deals. To be the breadwinner — the rainmaker. We network, we make phone calls, and send emails, all so we can get someone to hear us pitch our product or service, so we can make a deal.

Without the “deal” — the agreement we make with our prospect to trade our product or service for money — our jobs are on the line. After all, there are quotas to hit and competitors to squash. Because of this, in many organizations, the sales team is the first to win, and the first to lose. When we are successful, the company is flush with cash, and everyone breathes a little easier. But when sales are low, all eyes turn on us for being ineffective.

All that puts a lot of pressure on us to deliver.

To make things worse, there’s not enough to go around. Competitors are always out to steal market share. Customers keep looking for better options. There are only so many companies in the marketplace to begin with. Sometimes it can feel like we’re fighting for table scraps.

With such a limited number of opportunities, it’s hard to get our customers to listen to us. Voicemails aren’t returned, and our emails discarded. Despite our best intentions, we’re making noise.

This makes us selfish. We grab whatever deals we can get, and we hold on to them with all our might. We fight to win and keep those customers. Yet, in the end, many prospects still walk away without spending much money.

As a result of these shortfalls, we hustle to make more calls, send more emails and create even more noise.

How’s that working out for you?

Value is immutable. Your prospect cannot ignore it. Even if they didn't ask for it or pay for it, it is still valuable. Value is valuable.

Consider for a moment that our selfish attitudes are the root of the problem. Prospects buy when they perceive value for themselves. We aren’t fooling anyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you have a great product and the best of intentions. You’ve no doubt put a great amount of time and effort into your sales presentation. It’s full of metrics, case studies and all the things you learn from sales books. Your prospects hear pitches full of promises all the time. They won’t care what you have to offer unless you actually deliver real value in your conversations. The problem is that we are creating value conditionally. We’re trained to hold back the value our product or service has to offer until after the customer pays.

But value is immutable. Your prospect cannot ignore it. Even if they didn't ask for it or pay for it, it is still valuable. Value is valuable.

If you move your sales approach away from “here’s what you’re going to get if you buy from me” and instead lead by creating actual value, then you’ll cut right through all the noise. Your prospect will call you back, return your emails, and even thank you for reaching out.

For example, if you pitch your prospect the potential cost savings that your product has to offer, they will mull it over in the back of their mind until they forget about it. But, if you bring a line by line plan which demonstrates where the cost savings come from, your customer is more likely to act. After all, it's in their best interest to do so. In that case you delivered value through research, understanding and hard work, rather than talking in front of a pre-canned slideshow.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that creating value unconditionally is the same as free work. Value is short lived if it’s not sustainable to produce. You cannot afford to deliver anything of value without the resources to do so. As sales people, its up to us to take the first step to demonstrate that value.

This change in attitude positions you as a partner with your prospect. Your successes and failures become aligned. Rather than selling a product or service in exchange for money, you’ve worked together with your prospect to find a sustainable way to create value forever.

Mutually sustainable value between two parties has no limits. When the deal is valuable to all parties, who interact as one, the benefits can compound infinitely over time.

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On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “fired and escorted out of the building by security” and 10 is “left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,” my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally. I have a lot of sadness, a heap of regrets, and a smattering of resentment too. But I am, deeply, deeply thankful to all the people who supported me and Moz over the last two decades.

Rand Fishkin

Sad news that feels a little too close to home.

Maybe it’s because Rand and I started our companies around the same time. Maybe it’s because we fought the same roller coaster of growth. Maybe it’s because the idea of being ousted from the company I founded is too difficult to comprehend.

Rand and the company he built has been an inspiration to me for years. I wish him well and great success with SparkToro.

Sales & Marketing Books in my Library

The Challenger Sale by: Matthew Dixon
Pitch Perfect by: Bill McGowan
Content Rules by: Ann Handley
The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by: Chris Anderson

More Sales & Marketing Books