They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan, provides a great guide for creating relevant content, earning trust, and speeding up sales cycles. Marcus Sheridan’s philosophy is simple: ask yourself the question, “What is my customer thinking?” Understanding their questions forms the basis for a content-driven strategy. This mindset generates powerful fuel for your Revenue Growth Engine.
This book is packed with insights. Here are some of my favorite takeaways:
Become the Teacher
Education is the core of Sheridan’s philosophy. This makes sense. Buyers are not inclined to trust salespeople and they have all kinds of defenses set up against marketing. However, people respect teachers. Sheridan became obsessed with this stance: “We approached each question with a ‘teacher’ mentality, without bias—our sole obsession was simply that of educating the reader.” This reminds me of Jay Abraham’s paradox of knowledge: the more you know about something, the more questions you have. The person (or company) you go to for answers is the one who educated you.
Answer Prospect and Client Questions
Buyers have questions. So do clients. The company and sales reps that answer these questions get attention. This is true for Inbound Marketing and Client Communication. It is also true for Outbound Selling and Client Management. The fuel for your Revenue Growth Engine is A Focused Message. Once you have a clear understanding of your Ideal Client, one of the best ways to focus your message is to answer the questions that your prospects and clients have. For Net-New business, this helps get you found online, builds trust, and sets up effective sales meetings with qualified prospects. Answering questions continues into the Cross-Selling phase, creating a smooth onboarding process and setting the stage for additional purchases.
Address the Elephants In the Room
“As buyers, although we want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, we are mostly concerned with the ugly.” So true. We see this in our own propensity to search for reviews—specifically, negative reviews when we are making a purchase. Smart companies address this head-on. They are not afraid to talk about pricing, make comparisons to competitive offerings, and address concerns. Sheridan recommends that these questions be answered with a disarmament strategy. Since buyers in a low-trust world have their guards up, he recommends being disarming. For example, an article might begin by admitting that your offerings may not be the best choice for every buyer. Heresy? Maybe, but we cannot communicate until we have a basis of trust.
This is one of my favorite parts of the book. Sheridan shares his strategy to use educational content throughout the buying process. For example, before an appointment, he all but requires prospects to view a video addressing common questions and read with a guide educating buyers on their options. Not only does this filter out the riff-raff, when he arrives, he has trust and buyers are ready to roll. The result is shorter meetings, faster sales cycles, and increased close rates.
A Practical Guide To Video
Everyone talks about the video, but few people give a roadmap for how to implement a video strategy. With 82% of internet traffic being video by 2022, Sheridan observes, “We are all media companies whether we like it or not.” Sheridan encourages companies to answer frequently asked prospect and client questions by video. He also recommends that client-facing employees record videos to build rapport and trust with prospects.
Involve The Sales Team
If you want to understand your clients and prospects, talk to the people on the front lines. Your sales people get asked questions all day long. Document these questions and answer them online. Involve your sales team in creating written and video content to answer these questions. In Revenue Growth Engine, I recommend that marketing professionals spend significant time in the field with sales reps. Ride along to their meetings and have coffee afterward with the rep to debrief. All of this helps create A Focused Message which fuels the marketing and sales efforts of your engine, creating meaningful experiences for your ideal clients.
There is so much more in They Ask, You Answer. The chapters are short, punchy, and actionable. Real-world case studies are sprinkled throughout the book, giving concrete examples about how you can implement the strategies.
Originally published on Revenue Growth Engine.