Want to build a sales pipeline? Stop talking about yourself so much.
We’ve all met THAT guy.
Five minutes into your first conversation with THAT guy you know what car he drives, how he was the captain of every sports team he ever tried out for and that he’s broken every sales record in his company since 2003.
While THAT guy may make us want to run the other way, the truth is that we all may be a lot more like him than we care to admit. According to a 2012 study at Harvard where researchers took a close look at participants, they found that:
sharing information about themselves triggered the same sensations in the brain synonymous with eating food and having sex
The truth is, sharing information about ourselves is how we connect. It’s essential to our well being as humans. We run into trouble however, when one of the parties to an interaction doesn’t understand the etiquette of sharing and the requirement that both parties have the opportunity to share at a similar pace.
Can a brand be THAT brand?
There are plenty of brands out there behaving like THAT guy. The brands that act as though they have to open with a line about what they do or how great they are. The thing is, if your opening is all about you, you’re starting just like THAT guy does. Given the fact that competition for your audience’s attention is at an all-time high, you may want to consider an opening that will draw them in rather than turn them away.
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute nails it when he says:
First, you have to realize that our customers don’t care about our products and services. They care about themselves. Second, if you go into most enterprises, 95 percent of the content generated is about features and benefits of the products and services. That content works when people know exactly what they are looking to buy and who you are… but that is a very small percentage of your audience.
The Buyer’s Journey
As inbound marketers, we’re constantly working to guide our audience through the distinct stages of the Buyer’s Journey. The Buyer’s Journey is comprised of three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
The only time for a brand to talk about themselves is when a potential customer has reached the Decision stage! Guiding your audience through the Awareness and Consideration stages requires brands to build relationship through active listening, responding and helping. (Well, those sound an awful lot like the qualities of a great dinner guest don’t they?)
It is called Awareness after all
The Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey represents the point in time when your potential customer becomes aware that they have a problem. As a brand, you can start to build relationship with your potential customers during this stage – BEFORE they’ve identified a need for your product or service. If you’ve never stopped to consider this stage of the buyer’s journey you're not alone -many brands overlook this opportunity to build credibility and trust (what a waste!). It’s in the Awareness stage that the real relationship magic starts to happen because you’re positioning yourself to make a tangible difference when it comes to solving your customer's problem.
By stepping back to the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, businesses and brands often discover entire pockets of potential markets that they hadn't previously considered!
We're currently working with an industry association whose clients are businesses that operate in a particular industry. While working through a content plan, we challenged our client to consider going deeper into the Awareness stage and asking what causes their own clients to enter the industry in the first place? Prior to this, the organization had only considered existing industry businesses as potential members of their association and were thereby overlooking people who aren’t in the industry today but would be likely to enter the industry SOMEDAY.
Through this exercise our client realized they had a larger, warmer market of leads then previously thought and those leads are just waiting to have Awareness content created for them!
Your Pipeline Leads Are Relationships
At the end of the day, your leads are relationships and like any relationship, they require an investment if you want them to grow. So take a step back, look at the Awareness stage of your buyer’s journey and get busy creating value.