I was on the phone with a prospect the other day and we were discussing cloud options. He said to me: “Yes, I know Optimal Networks bought a cloud company so I’m sure you are trying to get everyone to migrate over.” My response? “We would never urge you to migrate if it wasn’t the right solution for you—that would only cause headaches for both you and me.”
He seemed shocked—and the conversation evolved into our cloud migration decision-making process which includes an analysis of existing network elements and infrastructures, remote working demands, and a cost-benefit analysis.
After a few additional meetings (and after expressing appreciation for our objectivity and knowledge), he ended up signing up for Optimal’s hosted email solution and saving some money.
More importantly, he was educated throughout the process—and that education was the customer service differentiator that sealed the deal. As Mike Myatt, a contributor to Forbes.com, put it in his article titled To Increase Revenue, Stop Selling: “Creating or expanding business relationships is not about selling – it’s about establishing trust, rapport, and value creation without selling….Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me…. stop selling and start serving.”
And education is about service—and sales. Deborah Shane, in her 7 Ways to Educate Your Way to Making theSale contribution to Small Business Trends, says: “Education is selling, and selling is educating, so the more you teach people about the value, benefits, and results the more sales you will inspire and close.”
After all, to a non-educated consumer, all of the choices in the marketplace look just about the same. When you decide to educate your prospects you differentiate your company and your services, address objections head-on, offer valuable information that prospects can share with their networks, andestablish yourself as an expert while reinforcing your credibility.
Naysayers argue that by educating your prospects about your competitors’ solutions, you increase the risk that they will go elsewhere. I say, let them. If the education you are providing leads them away from your solution, then it wasn’t meant to be. A service-oriented solutions provider should only strive for clients that are a good fit for the solutions they provide. If not, you will soon encounter an unhappy (and short-term) client that does nothing to increase referrals or grow your bottom line.
Education should be a part of every sales, marketing, and service strategy. By educating your clients and prospects, you create thoughtful partners and cement your company as a “go-to” source for industry information.
- What is the best example of a company that educates as opposed to sells?
- Have you had an experience that illustrated this concept (in which you were either the purchaser or the educator)?