When a digital marketer or business leader either sees Marcus Sheridan speak about his revolutionary approach to digital marketing in the modern age, or they've read his book of the same name, they get excited.
They understand how building a digital strategy around creating written and video content that addresses their ideal buyers' most pressing questions, concerns, and fears honestly and thoroughly will help them dominate their industry.
Sales folks, however, are an entirely different story.
Although, in all fairness to sales, I 100% do not blame them one bit for not seeing the potential of They Ask, You Answer at first. Why? I'm so glad you asked...
Sales teams have been burned one too many times by marketing
One of the buzzy little phrases bandied about by industry pros is "sales and marketing alignment." I know this because talk about inbound sales and marketing alignment a ton here, too. Unfortunately, it's a really important topic with polite label that obfuscates its true meaning.
You see, what lack of "sales and marketing alignment" really means is that sales doesn't trust marketing to create anything of value for them to use in the sales process, because marketers (in their eyes) are an expensive "brand vanity" project that drives something called "awareness," without actually driving anything toward the bottom line.
Marketing, on the other hand, looks at sales as revenue-obsessed beings from another planet who care more about closing deals than understanding what the "big picture" is for the brand in the long run.
With this kind of disconnect in place at thousands of companies around the world, it's no wonder that most marketers feel misunderstood and (most of all) sales does not trust anything that sounds like marketing. Period. Full stop.
Business blogging. Useless.
Social media. Who cares?
Video marketing. Hard pass.
Traditionally, none of these things sound like they close deals. They sounded more like expensive line items in a marketing budget.
But like I said at the start of this — and I say this as a digital marketer, through and through — those sales folks weren't wrong then, and many of them still aren't wrong now.
But it really is different this time, sales. I promise.
Because They Ask, You Answer is a sales initiative, not a marketing initiative
I know. The tactics used to execute on the philosophies espoused within They Ask You Answer still contain a lot of the red flag marketing buzzwords that make sales folks anxious... blogging, content marketing, video, websites, and so on.
Still, there's more than meets the eye here.
When implemented properly, every single blog article ever written, any video that is ever shot, every website page that is published is done so through the lens of what the sales team needs — not fluffy marketing needs — based on their front-line knowledge of what their ideal buyers are thinking and needing.
But let's say your whole company gets on board. Then, it's a whole different story:
But that's what you get out of They Ask, You Answer in sales at a high level. Let's dive more deeply into the seven different specific, game-changing benefits of They Ask, You Answer for sales.
7 key benefits of They Ask, You Answer for sales
1. Producing content will force you to understand your buyers as you never have before, as well as how they think.
The core of They Ask, You Answer begins with an absolute obsession with knowing precisely what your buyers are thinking, feeling, and searching. You cannot succeed without this deep understanding of their worries, fears, and desires.
When companies force their salespeople to think about these things, their ability to empathize with their prospects will never be higher, which is a powerful thing in the sales process.
2. Producing content is a downright magical process for sales messaging.
Sales professionals have not only heard most of the questions a prospect could ever ask, they have gotten really good at answering them.
So, when they are involved in the content production process, they get even better at answering questions, explaining ideas and concepts in intelligible ways, and getting the results they’re looking for.
3. Your content becomes the definitive guide for all of your trainings, messaging, and more.
The more content you create, the more articles, videos, and more you’ll have at your disposal for current and future employees to use as training materials. It will help them learn company doctrines, philosophies, and so on more effectively and more efficiently.
4. How powerful assignment selling can be in the sales process, shortening the sales cycle with more educated buyers as key results.
What is assignment selling? Assignment selling is the time-tested, proven way to use the educational content you're creating (articles, video, etc.) in the sales process, wherein you literally provide assignments to your prospects.
Your goal with assignment selling is not to create more work for your prospects, but rather to proactively resolve major concerns or questions of your buyers during the sales process and before sales appointments.
It may seem bold to give your potential buyers homework, but you will be rewarded with better educated buyers and an opportunity for “bad fit” buyers to disqualify themselves.
5. Your sales team can learn about what your potential buyers care about before they even enter the sales funnel.
With advanced sales and marketing automation and analytics platforms like HubSpot, sales teams can see every single website page, article, and video a prospect looked at prior to reaching to talk to someone in sales.
This is priceless intelligence that will empower you to understand exactly what your prospects are interested in, how much they know about you and your products and/or services already, and what topics they are most concerned about — all before a single sales conversation has even taken place.
That’s an incredible amount of lead intelligence right at your fingertips.
6. With content, trust can be built with a sales rep (and the entire company) before the first conversation.
With more education happening before you speak with a potential buyer, your sales reps can spend more time during meetings having more qualified and deep conversations specific to the needs of the individual or organization they are speaking to.
That allows them to do what they do best — sell.
7. Great content means more trust, more trust means shorter sales cycles, shorter sales cycles means happier sales teams...
By empowering your potential buyers to educate themselves through the content you create and publish on your website and elsewhere online, you give your sales teams the gift of time.
Time to spend on more qualified leads, as well as time to spend with families and loved ones. Additionally, with more educated buyers, they will find that those more qualified leads will close deals faster.
What should we do now to get started?
It's a lot of work to get your entire company aligned around They Ask, You Answer as a way of doing business.
That's because, unlike strategies in the past, They Ask, You Answer must be embraced by all teams — leadership, sales, marketing, service, etc. It is not owned by one team or one individual. It's a cultural shift within your company, not a flash-in-the-pan tactic.
There are a ton of different talks and courses in IMPACT+ that would actually be valuable to you, in a sales role, but these are the three that will be the most critical to you in helping you get started.
These three courses specifically will arm you with the insights and knowledge you need to see an immediate lift in your close rates by embracing the principles of They Ask, You Answer.
Yes, it's likely a significant departure from "the way it's always been done" at your company. But trust me, the results will speak for themselves.