This new book from Michael Port and Elizabeth Marshall delivers plenty of great advice about why and how to abandon old-fashioned sales approaches that just don’t work in the age of the empowered customer.
Too many salespeople and organizations are still stuck trying to push products down the throats of their customers. In The Contrarian Effect, Michael and Elizabeth argue for a completely different approach. As they stress:
Sales professionals must find a way to build relationships and to be there when customers are ready to buy–a totally different world view and way of interacting with potential customers. Something that won’t be possible if you insist on selling to them and use the usual approach to reach and communicate with them.
Their approach is completely in sync with the fundamentals of content marketing which stress the importance of an in-depth understanding of your customers and their needs. Only after you have developed that understanding should you attempt to encourage them to buy from you. Otherwise, you risk becoming everyone’s vision of the worst possible used-car salesman.
Collaborative sales and marketing: combine forces with colleagues to maximize your impact.
I found one of their sales and marketing recommendations particularly powerful: Collaborate with noncompetitive business colleagues who share a common target audience in order to dramatically increase your collective impact on an audience larger than you ever could have reached on your own.
In fact, Elizabeth has built a business which exemplifies how well collaboration can work when applied to the Web. Her company, AuthorTeleseminars.com, reinvents the old-fashioned idea of author book tours by moving them to the Internet. She capitalizes on the trend that sees fewer authors running around from bookstore to bookstore, speaking to small audiences, spending lots of money, and rarely selling many books. Instead, she creates a virtual book tours which partner an author with other author experts who share a common target market. All participants benefit from promotion to a larger set of prospects by combining contact lists and outreach efforts.
This kind of collaboration can be applied to any target market and is particularly powerful on the web where outbound direct marketing is incredibly cheap and the potential audience size enormous.
Run out and buy a copy of The Contrarian Effect. You’ll find plenty of great ideas that you can put to work right away to reinvent the way you sell and market yourself, your company, your products, and your services.