I hope that you find these real life stories interesting and I'm very interested in your comments and opinions as to what you believe is right.
I recently had the huge pleasure of being interviewed by Bob Ruffolo of Impact Branding & Design along with both of my sons, Mark and Matt. Before I get to the title, both sons are awesome and I really enjoy that I get to know them both personally as well as professionally. We're not clones and don't agree on everything, but the world is definitely better with them in it. You're welcome!
The impetus for this post actually came from one of Mark's answers in the interview. Bob asked, "How does inbound marketing affect the notion that you should be closing on the first call?". Mark replied, "...don’t always be closing always be helping...", and generally I agree, but wonder if sometimes in trying to "help", we actually cause more harm.
Let me offer three different situations.
As you may know, anybody can schedule a call with me using this link. Recently, someone used the link and set the following as the agenda.
"I have already identified prospecting and sales process as thing I need to do and am taking steps to put them in place. One of the things that I need to overcome is my need to educate people when I talk to them. I'd be interested in concrete steps to avoid giving unpaid consulting and replacing my need to educate with something useful. I'd also be interested in tips on how to not accept stalls by the prospect."
I answered his questions and was helpful, but I'm pretty sure that I did not help. He's been struggling for a while. He's stuck and he's trying to figure it out and fix it himself rather than commit to getting outside help. I suggested that he read, Switch and never offered to coach him and he never asked. I have two concerns. He may go out and try to do what I suggested and not be able make it work. Is he gonna feel like a bigger failure or is he gonna think less of me because my "helping" didn't work?
A while ago, I was introduced to an entrepreneur that had already succeeded and was starting a new venture. I was interested in his space and made several 'inner circle' introductions. He liked my style and asked if I'd be interested in working with him. We started, but it wasn't smooth and a few weeks in, he told me, "that I was 'a piece of work' and not everybody's 'cup of tea', but he was trying to acquire the taste and counting on me to grow his business." As it turned out, we stopped working together after two months because what he told me that he wanted to sell was not what he wanted to deliver.
I'll get to the third situation in a second, but I'd like to ask you a question. I don't believe that I had a positive impact on either of the people above. People don't have to pay to use my calendar link for a free coaching call. I did charge the second guy for the two months that we worked together. Which is better, to not help and not get paid or to not help and get paid?
OK, third situation. On April 20th, I received an email from Twitter that indicated that ImpactBnd had started following me. I thought that they already were. So, I sent this tweet. Bob used my calendar link ro schedule a call and we spoke on April 24th. He's a pretty sharp guy and our conversation was easy and non-salesy. During the conversation, he mentioned that he was going to write an e-book titled "How to Close Inbound Leads" for his clients. I immediately thought, "What do you know about closing?" (Sorry, Bob.), but before I could say it, he asked, "Hey do you want to contribute?" I asked, "What if we could do an interview-style webinar instead of an e-book? Maybe I could get my sons, Mark and Matt, to be involved to offer different perspectives. That happened. Now, what's the point? Relating back to Mark's point, "always be helping." Bob didn't need to be a client for me to offer to help and he and his team did a good job on the webinar.
So, your thoughts on helping vs. closing?
BTW, you can listen to the entire webinar if you want to know How to Close Inbound Leads. I hope it helps!