This book is a revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing in the digital age. It is a wonderful book for business owners and entrepreneurs, who want to grow their business in a consistent way with inbound sales.
For example, you are someone who is considering starting a blog or growing your business online, with a business already in motion, but unsure of how to move ahead.
This book offers wonderful perspective on how to approach creating content in this digital era. It has some unique systems and approaches you can apply to stop wasting time creating content that doesn’t work and focus on what people actually care about.
Some of them are extreme, cut-throat and rigid rules. In his own words, Marcus Sheridan is not a ‘professional author’. He is writing based on his own experience as a businessman and consultant. He is a practitioner with expert knowledge on the subject, otherwise an ‘inbound marketing guru’.
The book has many interesting case studies of either his clients or companies who have successfully mined digital content.
What You Will Learn
- How to create content to attract customers
- How to establish trust with your prospective customers and to become a trusted resource
- How to acquire more leads and increase conversion rate
- If your customers have a question, provide them with honest answers
- Create content to educate, not to blatantly sell your product
- How to write content that prospective customers identify with and leads to them better qualified inbound leads
- Customer problems and concerns should be your prime focus. Openly admit to your shortcomings or flaws and let your prospects make informed decisions. Be upfront
- How to turn your negatives into your strengths
The Book Summary
Consumer purchasing decisions have undergone a radical change in recent times. Today’s digital consumers base their buying decisions on internet research. An average 70% decisions are made before the purchase.
This book is about controlling the narrative before potential customers make their purchasing decision.
By the time you touch base with them, they should like you, know who you are, and even potentially want to do business with you. Establish Trust, Sales will Follow
: Be obsessed with gaining customer trust. Trust is the name of any online or offline business game. Trust is invaluable. Some ways to establish trust are:
Personal Story of Marcus Sheridan:
- Be transparent
- Do not bad mouth the competition
- Share your own story
Marcus shares his story of how when the stock market crashed in 2008, his swimming pool venture, River Pools and Spas, suffered huge losses as customers opted out of installing pools on their property.
He embraced the internet and started writing simple blog articles to educate his customers
and answer all their doubts and questions through this medium. This paid off and he successfully turned his business around and also became an inbound marketing guru.The CarMax Effect:
When CarMax came into the used car industry, they first had to win consumer trust. They did this by:
- Fixed Pricing – they followed a no haggling pricing, which has more or less become the industry standard
- Their sales team was offered a one car, one commission structure, regardless of the sale price of the car. This eliminated unethical pushing of higher priced cars in the hope of higher commissions. Rather, customer needs were considered and only the car most suited to them was suggested. In this way, they overcame ‘salesperson distrust’
- They offered a five-day money back guarantee, in case the customer was dissatisfied with the car sold to him, also called ‘buyer’s remorse’
- They paid full attention to quality control, putting to rest customers’ fear of ‘buying a lemon’.
This assured their customers that they were getting a genuine deal and not being ripped off. They did not speak empty words but rather showed their customers how they were actually implementing all these actions. They eliminated customer fear and replaced it with trust. Trust is a major subject in the book Trillion Dollar Coach
They Ask You Answer is a business philosophy. “It’s an approach to communication, company culture, and the way we sell as a business.” Become obsessed with customer doubts, answer all their questions on your website.
Address even the most difficult and awkward questions in a radically honest manner. Allow it to dictate the direction of your business. Much more can be found on this in the book Linchpin
. The Big 5
- These are 5 important topics, questions on which companies try to avoid:
- Price – What does your product cost?
- Problem – What are the negatives of your product?
- Comparison – How does it compare with the product of a competing company?
- Reviews – What are others saying about your product (peer proof)?
- Best in class – What is the best product in the market?
Your content must include answers on all these topics in a transparent manner. These are topics consumers obsess over and that companies are shy to answer. In the book F*ck Content Marketing
the authors go into much the same concept. These are perhaps the two best books on content marketing available.
Only 10% of companies actually do this and it establishes a great deal of trust for them. Companies who address ‘the elephants in the room’, the difficult questions, gain much.
Share and explain pricing on your website. This will not only eliminate unqualified consumers, but also build trust. Help your customers settle on the best deal for them.
They will definitely search for their answers. Using every source of information that they can find to do it. The idea is that you
be their trusted resource by honestly answering their questions.
This strategy will yield many results. By showing you understand your customers’ thoughts, fears, concerns, likes and dislikes, you will build empathy with them. Through the use of education, rather than promotional tactics, you will gain customers buy-in
. A strategy that you can read more about in How To Blog For A Profit
A cycle has been put into motion: Concerns->honest answers->educated consumers->potential customers or leads->shorter sales cycle or conversion time->smaller advertising costs->increased time efficiency of sales team->reduced overall costing->happy customers.
Plus the articles, blogs and videos that you create for customers, will continue to educate future potential customers as well as your own sales teams.
Something that Chet Holmes would fully support, as you will see in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine
. The Rob Misheloff Case Study:
Misheloff is Founder and owner of Smarter Finance USA, a reverse-mortgage direct mail company. The aim was to serve elderly people who were “house rich but cash poor”. He quickly realized that using direct mail to solicit leads was old school and not workable in 2014. He stumbled upon They Ask You Answer, and soon contacted Marcus.
He soon started putting up articles on his website clearing facts and myths about his industry, to educate consumers. Soon, he became the authority in the subject and people started contacting him. From a few hundred visits online initially, his traffic, leads and business grew leaps and bounds. For more information on how Salesforce grew through cold emails rather than content you may enjoy Predictable Revenue
Marcus Sheridan’s 8 steps to prepare your company for inbound content marketing can be adopted to teach your company and transform their business.
- Ensure everyone reads They Ask You answer. Hold them accountable and organize book club meetings
- Arrange an inbound culture workshop. This will give you an understanding of how buying has changed, importance of teaching as against self-promotion, questions to definitely address, et al
- Designate a Content Manager to design and publish all your content
- Identify and hire your insourced marketing team who can contribute with ideas, articles, videos, etc
- Do not delay your online content. Start publishing
- Integrate your content into the sales process immediately. Teach your sales team to integrate your online content into their sales efforts
- Measure your progress, stay consistent and set milestones. This will tell you where to focus and when to ease off
- Be willing to adopt change, challenge status quo, be transparent and honest, embrace challenges and forge ahead. Business survival is a mindset game.
This book is about putting yourself in a position of uniqueness. Give information that people want, be honest, establish trust, and attract customers. If we had to sum up the basic idea briefly it would be: When your customers ask you a question answer it with content.
Quotes From The Book
“Consumer ignorance is no longer a viable sales and marketing strategy.”
“Don’t say things to sound smart. Say things like a teacher and to be well understood.”
"...one of the happiest moments in the life of any business is the moment that business realizes what it is NOT, and who is NOT a good fit for it, and then lives by that awareness."
"...when it comes to great marketing and communication, the moment a business or brand tries to sound smart is generally the moment they start to look stupid."
About The Author Marcus Sheridan is the founder and president of The Sales Lion, one of the world's premier inbound and marketing companies.
This company trains and supports businesses in their efforts to compose meaningful content that will bring about inbound leads. These leads often result in increased sales and website traffic. In 2018, Sheridan's The Sales Lion merged with the digital publication, IMPACT.
This merger established a very successful American marketing and digital sales agency.Named a "Web Marketing Guru" by the New York Times, Mr. Sheridan has been listed by Forbes as one of the 20 "Speakers You Don't Want to Miss."
For, his passionate and riveting speeches have inspired and motivated many audiences and thousands of people throughout the world. In these speeches, he often relates his struggles and success as an entrepreneur and business owner. Having saved his company from failure, Marcus Sheridan candidly shares his experiences with audiences, among whom he mingles, often addressing individuals by name. Every year, Mr. Sheridan gives 70 global keynote speeches
, inspiring his audiences in marketing, sales, communication and leadership.
This immensely successful speaker has acquired recognition for his charisma and ability to inspire and excite his audiences. As a result of his talent as both an entrepreneur and a motivational speaker who has helped others succeed, Marcus Sheridan has been featured in respected business magazines such as Inc., Canada's The Globe and Mail and others. The multi-platform global tech, entertainment and digital culture content company named Mashable ranked Mr. Sheridan's book, They Ask, You Answer, as 2017's "#1 Marketing Book." Forbes rated it as one of "11 Marketing Books Every CMO Should Read." Among the key topics in this work are the following: "The Digital Consumer; We're All Media Companies"; "The Future of Sales and Marketing"; "The Way It Has Always Been Done" and "The Business of Trust."
In 2009, the creative Marcus Sheridan developed a blog about marketing, sales and personal development entitled The Sales Lion. This blog was generated during the economic collapse in 2008. When the swimming pool company Sheridan owned began to fail, he immersed himself into what is called "Inbound and Content Marketing" to save his business. He employed traditional advertising tactics, but he also used subtle methods of advertising or inbound marketing, an informational method for making potential customers aware of the product. Sheridan's efforts resulted in River Pools. It was not long before the website for this company became the most visited swimming pool website worldwide with 500,000 visitors per month.
Marcus Sheridan International, Inc.
In 2018, The Sales Lion merged with IMPACT, a highly successful digital sales and marketing agency. Today, Marcus Sheridan International, Inc. is a speaking company. Throughout the world, Mr. Sheridan inspires audiences with his advice and encouragements in communication, leadership, marketing and sales. With over 70 global speeches a year, this internationally recognized keynote speaker motivates and uplifts his many listeners.