Leading an organization in a time of uncertainty creates analysis paralysis. However, one thing is for sure: we are not living through a period of business as usual. The old way of hunting and disrupting customers to get them to buy your product or service is long-gone.
My marketing career grew up in an era of lead generation, pop-ups, TV ads, and disruptive tactile efforts where we lived for the sheer number of leads. We got excited seeing the top of the funnel fill up! However, we disregarded the quality of those leads. By doing so, we spun our wheels, time, and valuable resources trying to keep them, when, in fact, they weren't a fit to begin with.
The truth is customer acquisition is drying up, and the real money lies in repeat purchases. Creating a sustainable business occurs through loyal customers, obtained via customer-centric marketing.
How can we do that?
We can do that by harnessing the simplicity and yet impactful methodology of the They Ask, You Answer core philosophy: trust.
They Ask, You Answer is the belief that success in every business is based on trust. And to win that trust, businesses must obsess over the questions, concerns, and problems their buyers have, and address them as honestly and as thoroughly as possible—just as much online as they do offline. But it doesn't stop there. It's a belief that buyers have changed, and sales and marketing must evolve with them. And at IMPACT, this is precisely the vision we help companies realize.
As one of the Digital Sales and Marketing Coach at IMPACT, I work with clients to take ownership of their customer-centric digital sales and marketing efforts.
We help you build the skills in-house and own your digital sales and marketing destiny. The way we do that is by guiding you through the They Ask, You Answer journey. My job as your coach is to help diagnose problems before they become problems by staying many steps ahead of you on this journey, developing solutions, and moving you to action.
We do this work through our two coaching programs, the Fast Start Program and the Digital Sales and Marketing Coach Program.
Fast Start Program vs Digital Sales and Marketing Coach Program
Being a coach for both programs, I have intimate knowledge of which types of clients fit for which program.
What is the difference?
These two programs are run by the Digital Sales and Marketing Coaches and are, at their core, similar. The main difference is that the Fast Start Program has an end date, and the Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching program is ongoing.
The Fast Start Program is when you get to work with a Digital Sales and Marketing Coach to uncover the challenges your organization faces — maybe it’s a dip in revenue or sales, or your team is feeling the need to pivot, or you’ve heard of the They Ask, You Answer methodology and want to dip your toe in the water. Instead of jumping into a long-term relationship with no real end date, both you and your coach get the opportunity to understand each other better, creating a better fit and thus more chance of success going forward.
During this time, for both the Fast Start and DSMC program, your Digital Sales and Marketing Coach can assess your business and find out where your challenges are and what success looks like for your company. Within a short space of time, they will provide you with a set of customized digital sales and marketing recommendations and a one-page strategy for the next 12 months.
This is where the Fast Start Program ends — with the delivery of the one-page strategic plan.
In addition to the above, the Digital Sales and Marketing Coach program is an evergreen arrangement between you and your coach, and you will work together on the challenges associated with digital sales and marketing ownership.
This arrangement ends when your business has fully implemented the tenets of the They Ask, You Answer methodology and are seeing a growth in revenue.
To reach that point, based on our clients who are seeing that success, it typically takes between twelve and eighteen months from the first engagement.
However, the length of success depends entirely on you and your team's commitment to the principles of They Ask, You Answer, such as organizational alignment between the sales and marketing leadership, having the right person in the right position, hiring a full-time content manager and videographer, and, most importantly, an obsession to serve and answer your customer’s questions thoroughly and honestly.
The core of success we see with the most successful clients that see exponential growth in revenue and their customers satisfaction is the organization's learning mindset and willingness to adopt a different way to approach and serve your customers because they know that this is a time where it isn’t business as usual.
To give you an idea of how clients choose which program is best suited for them, let’s look at two real-life examples of the outcome from these two programs so you can have a better picture of how each company’s outcome differs and how these clients went through their decision-making process.
A Tale of Two Clients
I chose these two examples because of the similarities and yet very different situations their businesses were in. Both came with the same enthusiasm in embracing the They Ask, You Answer methodology. Each started their journey in different programs, and the milestone and trajectory of success of the clients differ significantly.
There is no right answer. The right answer is the right one for your business.
The Fast Start Program Client
The first client caught the vision and with much enthusiasm wanted to get going but wasn't sure how working with a Digital Sales and Marketing Coach versus just reading the book would get them where they needed to be.
They told me, "We are bought into They Ask, You Answer because we saw Marcus speak and we chose the Fast Start Program because it’s a way to dip our toe into working with a Digital Sales and Marketing Coach at the beginning of the They Ask, You Answer journey with a strategic plan in hand."
By the end of the Fast Start Program, armed with recommendations and a They Ask, You Answer strategic plan and roadmap, the client had a choice to make. They could use that plan and run with it on their own or they could continue with IMPACT in the Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching evergreen program.
After contemplating and discussing with their team for a week or two, they concluded that the They Ask, You Answer methodology was the right methodology for them. And they understood that dipping their toe into the They Ask, You Answer wasn’t going to cut the mustard.
Their business ethos rallied around pleasing and easing their customers and they wanted to stand out in their traditionally transactional industry. They realized that they were doing that in person already, but they felt it was the right time to scale up the philosophy because of how their buyer’s habits have changed.
However, without a full-time content manager, no real marketing manager, or a website with any content on it, they realized that they didn't have any of the right tools, people, and strategies to move things forward fast! Rather than take a long-route to figure it out, they opted to go for the Digital Sales and Marketing Coach evergreen program with additional content training.
Today, still early in their journey, they are well on their way to shifting their culture where Sales and Marketing are becoming more aligned, and how their sales team speaks and connects with their customers, through virtual selling strategies. And creating They Ask, You Answer the Big 5 content as well as streamlining and being able to track their success harnessing HubSpot.
The Digital Sales and Marketing Coach Program Client
Another client, a small business owner, had also caught the vision, read the booktwice, and created a book club with people in his industry. When presented with time and the opportunity, he decided to go straight into an evergreen Digital Sales and Marketing Coach bi-weekly engagement.
Without the know-how or support, he wanted his company to grow fast and to implement They Ask, You Answer the right way. As a testament to their seriousness, they hired a videographer and a content manager in the first week of the engagement. This has led to additional services with IMPACT such as video training and content training.
This client didn't want to take the long route to figure things out and quickly understood that by working with a coach, and trainers at the same time would bring them to be able to work on the business, not be too in the business. This means they could have structure, and focus on growing revenue and uphold the trust they have already built over the many years being in business.
Today, they are still on the journey but have already seen themselves change how they think about their customers. They identified which customers were not a fit and uncovered the endless hours spent on qualifying those leads, wasting time, energy, and money. They have also learned how to harness the power of their website to do that filtering for them.
Currently, IMPACT is working with them to create a self-selection tool. Opting for a self-selection tool on their website will help them qualify leads before a salesperson speaks to their prospects. Furthermore, we are doing this while building out content, both written and video, for assignment selling.
Both businesses caught the vision and bought into the Thay Ask, You Answer philosophy. Yet, they chose different programs initially.
Hey, you do you... but make sure to do something. Your future customer certainly won’t wait.
Whether they are B2C or B2B, buyer's behaviors are changing. Not only are they making their purchasing decisions BEFORE they come to you, but they’re also more careful about the decisions they make.
What’s the difference between Fast Start and DSMC engagement?
Now is the time to act, but which program is right for you?
Every company has its specific challenges to overcome. And the companies that are willing to commit to becoming the most trusted company in their industry will withstand the test of change in consumer buying habits.
Considering taking the first step in making your business the trusted voice in your industry?
We are here to help. Even though we are a marketing agency, my goal for you is to be as informed as possible about our two different Digital Marketing Coaching services that best fit your goals.
“Customers have all the power in the buying process,” says Dave Gerdhardt, who is the VP of Marketing at Drift, a conversational marketing platform for businesses. “As a result, whichever company makes it easier to buy is going to win. That’s how we make decisions, today, as consumers.”
Let's take a side by side look at these two programs.
How long do the programs last?
The Fast Start Program lasts four to six weeks, consisting of four 45-minute meetings with unlimited access to your coach during regular business hours through our online communication platform Basecamp. Although the meetings themselves last 45-minutes, there is required homework prior and after each session. Homework can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours, depending on what the homework is.
Homework consists of exercises and prompts focused on understanding a buyer's first mindset. Then we collaborate to evaluate if you have the right people in the right place, which includes guiding you to hire a content manager or a videographer. These two roles are essential to the success of the They Ask, You Answer methodology. We will also review and collaborate on business plans, objectives, sales processes, buyer journeys, and metrics to measure the success of your business.
The Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching Program is an on-going engagement where you meet with a coach every two-weeks for 45-minutes. You will also have unlimited asynchronous access to your coach during regular business hours through our communication platform, Basecamp.
Overall, working with a Digital Sales and Marketing Coach should become part of your daily work routine as it will ensure the culture in your organization will stick for years to come.
What deliverables will I receive?
The value of working with a Digital Sales and Marketing Coach is that we work with you to develop the sales and marketing skills in-house, which can generate revenue for years to come without needing to outsource that skill set. Companies continuously pay agencies a monthly fee in many cases because they haven’t been trained to do what the agency does.
Imagine if you could bring that skill in-house?
We also teach, coach, and guide you and your teams to become the They Ask, You Answer experts. The result is your organization's culture starts to shift from a company-first mindset to a buyer-first mindset. In that, the buyer is shared throughout the organization, which creates a seamless and delightful customer experience.
You also save your business's valuable time to reach your goals faster in becoming the trusted voice in your industry. What you gain through the coaching process is invaluable and allows you to drive this process after learning it.
Both programs deliver a one-page strategic plan used to map out your They Ask, You Answer strategy.
The difference is, with the Fast Start Program, the engagement ends with the one-page strategic plan. Where in the Digital Sales and Marketing Program, it's then taking that one-page strategic plan and guiding you and your team (sales and marketing) to continue to implement and execute those strategies on an on-going basis.
If you were in an evergreen Digital Sales and Marketing Program, we would work through the strategy and the pillars of the They Ask, You Answer methodology (found in IMPACT+ under the scorecard), such as:
Company Alignment and Buy-In
Assignment Selling Strategies
And simultaneously work with a content trainer, video trainer, and Hubspot trainer.
Who from my team needs to be involved?
In both the Fast Start and the Digital Sales and Marketing programs, key leaders should be present at a minimum, along with the sales, and marketing teams. Because They Ask, You Answer is a sales-driven initiative. Marketing supports sales efforts.
Also, They Ask, You Answer is a philosophy that doesn't work when the rest of the company isn't on board. When internal teams don't communicate, customers receive inconsistent service. This unpredictable experience will drive them away. In a world of instant gratification, there's a level of expectation that customers expect — and they won't wait for you to solve your internal differences.
Involving the rest of the team in a Fast Start Program, which consists of four calls, isn't possible because there isn't enough time to complete that work and do it properly.
However, in an evergreen Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching Program, we can rearrange one or two of the evergreen monthly calls focused on specific groups. There is an opportunity to increase the number of meetings from twice a month to four times a month.
What is the time commitment?
How much time you commit to this effort becomes irrelevant if you shift your priorities and think about the possibilities of what is to come if you put your all into it. Does the time then matter if it means unblocking the boundaries of your business? If the team is bought in, then the time spent on this is irrelevant.
But ok, I get it, you still want to know how much time you’ll be spending on this.
Both the Fast Start Program requires dedicated time to take weekly calls for four weeks that last 45-minutes. It is the same for the Digital Sales and Marketing program; the difference is the cadence of the calls that happen two times per month.
The other time commitment is the time needed to complete homework: the building blocks of They Ask, You Answer. It might take a few minutes to several hours per week, depending on if your business has the information handy.
Pros and cons between the two programs
The pros of the Fast Start Program are that in a short period, you will have a clear understanding of what you and your team need to work on to be successful in the They Ask, You Answer methodology. You will walk away with recommendations and a strategy on how to do that.
The cons of the Fast Start Program are that you may not know how to execute on the plan because you and your team may not understand the nuances of They Ask, You Answer. You and your team end up not moving forward because there is a lack of accountability. We have also found this to be the case because leaders are operating with a different mindset and putting the company first, not buyers.
The pros of the Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching Program is you and your team are on the They Ask, You Answer journey and are working through a more extended period, which creates a space to build habits and cadence that increases the adoption of the They Ask, You Answer methodology. The build-up is incremental, and the pace is, what my clients tell me, easier.
The cons of the Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching program is the perception that this investment is to move your business forward is infinite. There is no set end date to the budget. The unknown is unpredictable, but the goal of IMPACT training is to ensure you are bought in and learning. We get it. However, learning is an investment. If we didn't invest in learning, how could we ever learn?
What is the cost of inaction?
Marcus Sheridan talks about the risk to businesses if they choose not to act:
Those willing to shift their mindset and do the work can make a quantum leap in their industry and bypass their largest competitors. Those who refuse to listen to buyers and how they've changed experience tremendous frustration and potential financial ruin.…
[D]on't ask, "Can we afford to do this?" Instead, I challenge you to answer these hard questions: "What if we don't do anything?" "What is the cost of inaction?"
What is the cost of inaction? Is it a negative impact on their business of not changing and instead of coasting on proven successful formulas? If it's not broken, why spend the time and money to fix it? If it works, it works; don't rock the boat. Right?
That mentality is the problem: a fear of not wanting to rock the boat, not change something that has proven to work so far, lures businesses into complacency that ends up doing more harm than good. Just because what you're doing now meets your goals doesn't mean it always will. The changing nature of buyers, markets, and industries guarantee it won't. Constant inputs don't yield continuous outputs. As buyers and markets change, regular data result in declining outputs.
The cost of doing nothing: failing to refocus the business – towards building trust with customers by answering their questions and needs – is a recipe for your position in the market to shrink and become less relevant.
Because we live in an unprecedented time of COVID-19, the way we work and how businesses operate is forever changed. According to McKinsey & Company, more than 50% of consumers are increasingly proactively researching the products online and getting referrals from their friends and families on what products to buy.
Therefore, focusing on the buyers' behaviors is a must, as they increase the number of items they purchase. Because they are now staying home longer, there is a shift away from necessities, and business products are rising.
Shoppers are also asking more questions. According to Marketing Week, consumer question submissions — where a shopper submits a question around a particular product, such as asking for dimensions or whether they can use it in a specific way – is increasing year-over-year, with an increase of 54% in April.
This increase in review and question counts shows that brands, now more than ever, need to engage with their customers. They can do this by answering any questions that they are submitting and taking the time to analyze their reviews to help improve their customers' overall experience.
And to do so, your team must understand the what, how, and why of They Ask, You Answer, to allow what is a "program" in many people's eyes to eventually become a culture.
How fast you get to this point is up to you, you can read the book and take a slower and bumpier ride, or work with our team of coaches and trainers to get you there and know that you are doing it the right way.
What are you waiting for?
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