Sales with no arm-twisting reqired.

I had an interesting discussion with my pal Brian Russell yesterday about my approach content strategy. One of the things we talked most about was sales, as in how do you get someone to buy something they don’t realize they need?

I don’t claim that our way would work for other kinds of businesses, but here’s how we do it. Because our approach to content strategy is actually the process we use every day in our own business, we introduce it to clients in the context of whatever work they hire us to do. So if you call us for, say, a white paper, we’re going to run through the process on a small scale with you anyway just to get your project moving. As we explain the steps we use to create your content, we also show you how that could scale to produce a larger enterprise- or product-wide strategy for all content.

We’ve found that when the “sale” is in the context of something clients know they want it doesn’t feel salesy or pushy. And it doesn’t require a yes or no vote. If they want to explore bigger opportunities, we can. If they don’t, we still keep moving on the project at hand. It’s not a huge time or resource sink for either party. Interestingly, we’re finding that a few clients who initially didn’t want the bigger version are now coming back, willing to go to another level with the next project. It may not be the most elegant sales cycle (for that you should probably consult my go-to guy for sales, Marty Clarke), but it works for us. And my guess is it would work for other folks who are selling something a little ahead of the marketplace.

How do you handle situations like this?