Do you enjoy selling?
I love getting new clients but I’m not a fan of selling.
The idea of trying to “close” someone brings me out into a cold sweat. But how can a non sales person avoid the feast and famine cycle?
Fortunately several years ago I made a discovery.
I was attending a software exhibition with the company where I was employed as an IT Manager. I was on hand to ensure that the ordering system worked and the sales people could focus on selling.
It was all going smooth and I was bored. I started playing with the software we sold.
I quickly picked up the basics and in a few hours got very proficient and discovered some great tricks for saving time.
While the sales people were busy on the stand I started showing a few customers. In no time at all I developed quite a crowd.
People started buying the software in numbers, without even talking to sales people, because I’d shown what it could do and answered so many of their questions.
By the end of the day I’d “outsold” the sales people and we had to order more stock – but I never tried to sell!
I’d discovered the easy sales secret for non sales people – sharing knowledge.
It was a real epiphany - I’d learnt that by knowing the product well, demonstrating it, and sharing my knowledge, sales came freely without any need for “selling”.
Does it sound too good to be true? Let me explain why its works so well.
Sharing Knowledge Demonstrates Skill
When you share knowledge with a prospective customer you show how much you know.
You position yourself as an expert, not just because you’ve said that you’re an expert but because you’ve demonstrated that you are.
As Benjamin Franklin said:
Well done is better than well said.
When you position yourself as an expert you attract people who want to benefit from your expertise. This attraction is excellent for your small business because it’s helps you build your sales pipeline by attracting your perfect customers.
You’ll also receive more referrals because people will better understand who you can help.
Demonstrating your skill also shows your product or service in the best light.
For instance as an accountant who provides tax advice what better demonstration can you provide than to give some advice to people openly and let them see how much you know?
Sharing Knowledge Shows Passion
I can still remember the software demonstration I gave almost fifteen years ago.
Demonstrating one or two small shortcuts in the software that I thought most people had missed. As I covered each one I saw users eyes light up.
I enjoyed sharing with the people who gathered and the more interested people got in my demonstrations the more confident and passionate I became.
When you share knowledge, and see how this knowledge is helping people, you pass on some of your passion for your product and services.
This passion is very attractive to prospective customers. If you had to choose between two suppliers and one stood out by having a real passion for what they do wouldn’t it make you want to choose them?
Sharing Knowledge Builds Trust
Before anyone will buy from you and your small business they need to know, like and trust you.
There is no better way to help people in this process than to openly share your knowledge.
Sharing knowledge breaks down the barriers between you and your prospect.
Your prospect doesn’t have to wonder if you are really good at what you do, if you really know enough to help them because you’ve shown them.
Breaking down the barriers and being open about sharing your knowledge is an important step in building customer relationships.
Knowledge Sharing Examples
It’s easy to talk about “sharing knowledge” but what does this actually look like?
How can you grow your small business by sharing some of your knowledge?
Here are two great examples from local small businesses.
Matthew Franklin – Ask The Architect
Matthew is an architect in Shropshire, UK. Every Friday afternoon he runs an open, free question and answer session called “Ask The Architect“.
Visitors have twenty minutes to talk to him face to face or via telephone, email or Twitter. They can discuss design ideas, planning questions and get advice on how to start their projects.
It’s not about selling, it’s about giving great advice and answering peoples questions. But through sharing his knowledge openly Matthew is showing himself as an approachable expert.
— Matthew Franklin (@Ask_Architect) June 22, 2012
Kelly Ward – Mrs Mopp Cleaning Services
Kelly runs a domestic and commercial cleaning company, also based in Shropshire, UK. To demonstrate her expertise she regularly posts cleaning tips on Twitter and her blog, like this one:
Use air freshener on mirrors,it will act as a polish and leave a longer lasting fragrance #cleaningtips
— Kelly Ward (@MrsMoppUK) June 29, 2012
These useful, actionable tips are easy to share and keep Kelly’s name in peoples mind for when they need her services.
Can You Share Too Much?
But can you share too much knowledge?
Is there a point at which sharing knowledge can damage your business because people don’t need you anymore? They can take the knowledge and do it themselves?
The simple answer is no.
Consider the two examples above. If you’re planning an extension to your house and want advice on planning permission and building regulations you’re very unlikely to get enough advice in twenty minutes from Matthew so you can do the whole job yourself. But in twenty minutes you will have answered some of your questions and seen enough of Matthew’s knowledge to know that he is an expert and a good choice to help you with your project.
Likewise with Kelly, few people will hire her just to clean their mirror so the tip will be very helpful. But who will they call next time they need their carpets cleaning, or when they need a regular cleaner to help them free up some time in their busy lives? – You’ve got it, it’s going to be Kelly as she demonstrated knowledge and established trust.
The Bottom Line
Sharing your knowledge is not only the easy sales secret – it’s the best!
Sharing knowledge through my blog and on Twitter and LinkedIn is my only form of marketing and has gained me several new clients in the last few months.
Please let me know how you’re using knowledge sharing to grow your small business in the comments . . .
Photo: GDC Europe