CHAPTER FIVE: SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP
by Frank Cowell | Updated Dec 21, 2023
This is a chapter from the best-selling book
Building Your Digital Utopia by Frank Cowell.
Companies often try to move too quickly with potential customers. For example, a company might have a white paper or an e-book for free download on their website, and the immediate follow-up from either the company or a salesperson is, “Contact us to find out about our services.”
This is the wrong approach. Just because someone downloaded an e-book from your website doesn’t mean they’re interested in buying anything from you. They might become interested down the road, but you can’t assume they’re already buyers just from a single point of contact.
You have to acknowledge that fact and respect it. I’m not suggesting that follow-ups shouldn’t happen. After all, I’m a salesperson at heart. However, you have to respect the context. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you’d just downloaded a free e-book, would that mean you’re ready to become a buyer? Probably not.
If you’re obsessed with people instead of your offering, you’ll approach these situations with a different mindset. Think of it like dating. It takes time to go from a first date to a committed relationship, and most of the time, you take it slow to ensure a real connection forms. Plus, you don’t want to scare your date off by being too needy or pushy from the beginning.
Imagine being on a first date with the conversation flowing and you suddenly say, “I envision us married, living in a beautiful three-story home in the suburbs. We’ve got a picket fence, a dog named Fido, and a couple of kids: Billy and Madison. We take them to soccer on the weekends and cheer them on. Doesn’t that sound nice? Let’s make it happen!” If you start talking like that on the first date, the relationship is probably going nowhere fast. If anything, your date will think you’re incredibly weird or creepy.
But that’s exactly what companies do all the time. “Oh, you downloaded our e-book? How about you become a committed customer for life?” That’s not much different than saying, “Oh, you talked to me for the first time? How about we get married right now?” We have to stop doing this. Instead, we need to start treating customer relationships like any other human relationship. That means we need to slow down to speed up.
THE CONTEXT OF CONNECTION
Slowing down to speed up is about how you follow up with people. If you’re putting out great information that helps your buyer persona with their pain point, then your marketing team should be generating contacts in your database. Your sales team can then follow up, but they should approach those contacts with more value, honoring the context of the connection.
For example, they might say something like, “Mary, I see you attended our webinar on improving profitability in your organization. We think one of the tools talked about in the webinar would be a great asset for you. Let me know if you would like a copy. It’s an analysis tool that many of our clients have used to gain clarity on ways to quickly increase profitability.”
The engagement is about providing value based on where the person is at in their relationship with your brand—the behavior that Mary has demonstrated—and honoring that context. Contrast this with the way most sales teams operate today, completely ignoring the context and immediately pushing hard to get a long-term commitment. Nothing in Mary’s behavior thus far says, “Contact me. I want a price quote right now.” You have to respect that and follow up appropriately.
Remember, it’s a mindset of service at every point of the customer journey. If someone is an existing customer, when you call them it shouldn’t be to sell them something. Occasionally, you might want to upsell something you believe will meet a need, but your regular outreach with them should be primarily focused on making sure they’re happy and making sure they are being treated well by everyone in your organization, followed by adding value somehow. For example, “I heard you mention a challenge you’re dealing with during our last meeting, so here’s a book that might help—or here’s a person who might be a resource for you.”
You don’t want every interaction customers have with your company to feel like a sales pitch. Otherwise, they will quickly come to dread engaging with you. Find ways to add value and further the relationship. Treat your prospects exactly the same way. Lead by having their interests in mind. Begin by looking for ways you can help and build a relationship from there. As soon as you engage with DigitalMarketer, the leading providers of digital marketing training, they start following up by providing various forms of help. Even before you join their Certified Partner Program, they provide free content, invitations to conferences, and ways to interact with the community and ask questions.
You’re already getting a lot of value from the company long before you spend a dime with them. When you finally decide to become a member, you already know
you will get a ton of value for your money. “If they’ve done all of this for free,” you think, “imagine what they’ll do once I pay them!”
When you serve customers in this way, your progress might slow down initially on the micro-level, but your relationships on the macro-level will speed up. The prospects entering your pipeline will be real and ready. Even though you are putting fewer people into your pipeline, you are attracting more people who are ready to do business with you. After all, what’s the point of having more in your opportunity pipeline if most of what’s in there is worthless?