One of the mantras of HIVE Strategy is to Market Like A Human. It seems so simple, right? We're all human, and we should act like it (yes, even in our marketing campaigns), but with this remote world and all the automation available at our fingertips, it can be really easy to forget that we're not marketing or selling to a company or a student or a mother. Instead, we're all marketing and selling to other humans.
With that, one of the core pillars behind any Market Like A Human campaign is transparency. Far too often, organizations omit information, hide too much information behind a form, or completely ignore information that their audience really cares about.Being transparent is not always easy or comfortable. We always want to share our business in a good light, and we naturally steer away from any information that paints our company as anything other than perfect. But, let's be honest, prospects want the dirt. They want to know the real truth, and that is what helps them make an informed, accurate decision.
Did you know that up to 90% of the sales cycle is completed before a prospect ever reaches out to a salesperson? 90%! That means that prospects are doing their own research and the companies that provide all the information (especially the sensitive information) are the organizations that are winning and will continue to win. Here are some ways that you can be more transparent and answer the questions that your prospects are really wondering.
This is one of the most sensitive topics that we come across. Should I publicly share my pricing or not?
Well, think about it — when you, as a consumer, are doing your own research for something to buy, how does it make you feel when you come to a company that doesn't share its pricing information? Or makes you fill out a form in order to see pricing? Or, EVEN WORSE, makes you fill out a form with the promise of pricing, only to be greeted by a scheduling form to talk to sales?
It sucks, right?
I know that I personally say a choice four letter word and promptly leave that website to head back to Google to find a different company that will give me that information. You're wasting so many opportunities and so much of your prospect's time if you fail to provide at least a general sense of pricing.
Pricing is vital to the sales process, and your prospects expect to be able to find it. We hear the argument all the time that "my competitors will find that information and undercut it." My response?
Let's be real about it — if your competitors really want to find your pricing, they'll find it. Don't hurt your prospects by omitting information because of the unreasonable fear of your competitors using it against you. You're hurting yourself and potentially just sending business to your competitors anyway because you are keeping your pricing a secret. Be transparent with your pricing and make it easy to find.
Another big argument that we get for not displaying pricing is that "our solutions are customized, so we don't have standard packages." Again —
That shouldn't stop you from being able to at least share a range, rough estimate, or average data with a prospect to give them a ballpark of what they could expect. For HIVE Strategy, we are a custom agency. We don't have standard packages, so every retainer and project is slightly different, but we know that our average retainer is in the $5,000 - $10,000/month range, that our average website build is $20,000 - $40,000, and that a four-month sprint for Growth Driven Design runs from $6,500 - $12,000. Those aren't exact numbers, but they answer the pricing question at least enough that a prospect knows if we fit into their budget or not and what to expect.
Share how the sausage is made
Every business thinks they're special. And maybe yours is, but very few will actually share how they're special.
There is lots of talk about "providing the best service" or "relationships," but very little about how you do things differently, what your team or tool or product does better, or how it really works.
Taking the time to pull back the curtain and give your prospects insight into how your company does what it does can be a huge trust builder. Your prospects will start to view your organization as trustworthy and human, and it will help to build your authority.
Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that KFC should be telling everyone what their 11 herbs and spices are or the quantities they use to create their blend, but I am saying that showing how they source their chicken, how they prepare it, how they store it, and how their team cooks it can be extremely insightful and beneficial for the marketing and sales process.
Answer the hard questions
Every industry has questions that they just flat-out avoid. Pricing is one that spans nearly every industry, but start to think about what questions you and your competitors fail to address, then...
This is the biggest takeaway from Marcus Sheridan's book, They Ask You Answer. The entire premise is that you should be answering the questions that your prospects are asking (regardless of how tough they are), or your competitors will.
Now you might be thinking, "But Dustin — that answer doesn't benefit my company or makes us look bad." Again, I respond with...
As a business, you have to understand that not every prospect is the right prospect, and so if an answer or a reality about your business or product turns off some prospects, then that should be ok. Being open, honest, and transparent about hard questions will skyrocket your trustworthiness in the eyes of your prospects and will help you to close more of the right deals. Think about:
- Questions that come up in your sales process.
- How you compare to each of your competitors.
- Reasons why someone wouldn't purchase from you.
- What other solutions someone could use to solve the same problem you solve, even if it's not a direct competitor.
- What you would do if you didn't have the budget to afford your company.
- Regulations that you may not be able to satisfy.
- Customization that some of your prospects may need that you aren't able to fulfill.
And then create content around those things. Being helpful will pay off in the long run.
Like I mentioned earlier, every business has good-fit customers and bad-fit customers, but far too often, we don't talk about who we're not a good fit for. We, as a society and as marketers, have taken the perspective that even if we aren't right for someone, maybe they'll come around and adjust who they are or what they need in order to make them a better-fit customer. That literally NEVER works out.
Think about it — how many times have you started working with a client that you just knew wasn't a great fit and hoped that it would be ok, and then it turned into a massive dumpster fire?
Being upfront about who is right for your business and who is not can shorten your marketing and sales cycle, build trust, and help you avoid all the heartache of dealing with a bad-fit customer.
For example, HIVE Hub (our HubSpot task management service) is very clear about what is included and what is not. And we don't bend those rules. Through HIVE Hub, we do HubSpot and only HubSpot. We don't do content. We don't do advertising. We don't work in other systems. If you're looking for those things, then we just aren't the right solution. We don't try to mask that or avoid that question with the hopes that we can convince a prospect that they only need HubSpot tasks done. Sure, we have lost deals because prospects wanted us to work in Salesforce or WordPress or Dynamics too, but that is not what our service does, and it just isn't who we are, at least on the HIVE Hub side of our agency.
As we continue to be more and more disconnected as a society but also more and more advanced in our marketing and sales technologies, it's important that we remember there are humans on the other side of those marketing campaigns. We all sell to humans, and one of the pillars of Market Like A Human is to be transparent. Are you being as transparent as you should be? Would you buy from you? How are you building trust with nameless, faceless prospects that come to your website or consume your marketing material? We all have to be better at marketing like humans.