Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to switch from hard sell to thought leadership

I cut my sales teeth prior to the internet; way before the internet as a matter of fact...smile. I was trained to think that the three most important aspects of selling was closing, closing and closing. Every time one encountered a buying signal…what should he/she do? Go for the close! In fact, everything revolved around the close. There were many retailers that used these selling techniques and many a customer was sold. Today however, people are sold less and buy more often. They buy because they understand that the product or services satisfies their wants needs or desires. They look to the person that has knowledge not salesmanship. They look to thought leaders.

I am a great fan of Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling. He methodically traces the change of buying practices in the large B2B sale. He authoritatively establishes the idea that the strong closer sales tactics that I was taught do not work in the large B2B sale. Well it is becoming increasingly obvious that these strong closer sales tactics do not work today period. What has changed? The answer is the knowledge level and sophistication of the buyers. This has been made possible in large part because of the internet. Today anyone can research anything on the web. Many times the prospective buyer knows as much about the prospective product or service as does the salesman. Therefore, it is imperative that the sales person or business is involved in the early process of the sale. How you ask?  By being a thought leader and a trusted advisor is the answer.

.My focus is on the small B2B business owner. It is very important that these small businesses establish themselves as thought leaders and trusted advisors. The how to do this is the question that needs answering. Here are some tips:

  1. Start a blog and contribute content often. It is essential that the articles offer helpful information. It does not matter so much that it is brand new information (there is nothing new under the sun) but it must be stated as freshly as possible and it can become helpful to a specific readership or vertical.
  2. You can get some of your blog information from article publishing sites like EzineArticles.com. There are hundreds of thousands of article available for reposting. Be sure that you follow their instructions and give credit to the original author and location. You demonstrate your though leadership by writing your own posts but you also show that leadership by selecting information that is helpful.
  3. Look for helpful articles at other blogs and retweet them. This goes toward establishing your thought leadership. This is especially true when you are following and are followed by people that are a part of your target market.
  4. You should publish your blog articles on article submission sites such as EzineArticles.com. This will establish you as a thought leader to an even wider audience.

You can share your blog and articles with your prospective clients. You can also turn them into PDFs and send them along to your prospects via email. All of these things are a great start to establishing yourself as a thought leader and trusted adviser.

I would appreciate feedback on my articles. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog. I will read them and take them to heart. It can also create an important dialog that will benefit all of the readers.


  1. Thanks for sharing some great tips! I think that's very true. The results may not be instant as in a hard sell, and that establishing yourself as a thought leader takes time. But then it's like planting a tree that bears fruit time and time again.

  2. Hi Hello Trade,
    Your fruit tree analogy is great! And you are absolutely right. Thank you for the comment.

    Joe Machuta