I generally empty my spam folder every day, but for some reason, I had skipped a few days… and had a mountain of emails to be deleted.
As I was looking through them and getting ready to hit the ‘delete’ button, I noticed a consistent theme across all of them. Other than a couple of “I’m a barrister in Dubai I need your help to claim $20 million,” every single one of them was a hard sales pitch: SEO services, website design, app creation and so on and so on. And most from companies I had never heard of.
Even though this was my spam folder, I think there’s still a lesson here… if you want someone to take notice of you – in an email, over the phone or in person – stop selling and start helping. Or as one of my clients likes to say, “bring value to the relationship.”
And by the way, we’re not talking just about relationships with clients and prospective clients, though those are certainly at the top of the list. Think about others with whom you might have a two-way working relationship: industry associations, publications, potential vendors and partners, educational institutions and so on.
So, how do you stop selling and start helping? There are limitless possibilities, but here are 9 ideas to get you started…
- “Clip an article.” OK, that’s what we used to call it in the old days. Today, it’s merely copying-n-pasting a link to an online article you think the recipient might find interesting or helpful. And it’s sent with the simple message, “Mary, I came across this article and thought you might find it interesting. Regards, Steve” That’s it… no sales pitch, just a helpful gesture.
- Share a resource your firm created. When your firm creates a new eBook or writes a new blog post, you’ll likely promote it via email and social media. And you should. But before that, considering sending it directly to select contacts who will find it useful. Again, with a simple message, “Mary, I thought you might like a sneak peek at…”
- Invite them to a webinar. If you’re hosting a webinar, send your key contacts a personalized invitation before you blast it out to everyone else. And if they can’t attend, send them a copy of the recording afterward.
- Make an introduction or a connection. Content isn’t the only resource. In fact, people are much more valuable resources… so be a ‘connector.’ Introduce some of your good connections to your targeted contacts. Or send your contact the names of a couple of people they might want to connect with on LinkedIn.
- Do a favor for them. And by that, I mean spend a little time doing something genuinely valuable. For example, be willing to chat with someone for 30 minutes about a particular topic – share some expertise and perspective. Or maybe draft an outline of an idea that will help your contact, even if it’s not with your firm. That kind of real help will not be forgotten.
- Endorse someone on their LinkedIn profile. Don’t do this if you don’t know the person, but if you have a good sense of who they are and their skill set, endorse them on LinkedIn for everyone to see.
- Share some of their news with your newsletter subscribers or social media connections. You want to be careful here not to become a news feed for the marketplace or show favoritism… but occasionally, share their helpful content with your connections (via email and social media). This might include news like your contact’s firm is hiring or hosting an upcoming event.
- Do a freebie for an existing client. Do you ever provide any services for free? Not the big stuff, but a little add-on here or there to enhance the project. Your cost is negligible, but the positive perception is significant.
- Here’s another good one for existing clients… profile them on your blog. Do you really want to stroke someone’s ego? Write about them, their job and the impact they’ve made at their firm. The extra benefit? Since they’re your client, it also becomes a testimonial for your company.
The Bottom Line
Remember this phrase, “Things that are easy to do are also easy not to do.” And the items listed above certainly fall into that category. It’s a matter of making a commitment and giving up a little time to help someone. It really is that simple.
One other thought… For stop selling/start helping to really work, you need to do it without expecting anything in return. If you’re only ‘giving to get,’ the recipient will see right through you and you’ll lose all credibility. But if you’re sincere and authentic… and are genuinely doing it to help someone… your actions will be rewarded. Every time!