You may have recently started a new business. You might be a salesperson who wants to close more deals. Perhaps you’re a marketer who wants to attract and convert more website visitors.
Whatever your situation is or your business goals are, here are some ideas about what you can give first to help achieve those goals.
1. Giving value first in the sales process
Jeffery Gitomer is a long time proponent (video) of giving value first in the sales process. According to Jeffrey, simply believing that you are giving value is not enough. Value has to be perceived by the recipient. He also says that you should give without expectation.
People like to buy. They don’t like to be sold. When you give value first, you are not selling (yet). You are building trust and making it more likely that someone will want to buy from you.
Of course, you may still need to go through the selling motions of presenting, quoting, and negotiating. But the selling process will flow more naturally and require less time and effort.
2. Giving value first in your marketing content
On the marketing front, an inbound approach revolves around giving value first. Greenlight Guru is a shining example of leading with value.
Greenlight designs Quality Management Software for the medical device industry. If you happen to be in that industry, Greenlight offers up a plethora of free content to help you run and grow your business.
Much of the content is not directly related to what Greenlight sells. However, on the surface, it appears that Greenlight has created an environment that induces more buying activity and requires less selling activity on their part.
3. Offering backlinks first
Backlinks from authoritative domains are very important for building your website traffic. Blogger Adam Enfroy says that links are “the currency of the internet” and calls link-building a value exchange.
However, many people send out bulk cold emails simply asking for backlink handouts — and they offer nothing in return.
If you first give a backlink from one or more of your guest posts before you ask for a backlink, you will be more likely to, in turn, receive a backlink. Enfroy calls this a “pre-linking strategy.”
4. Promoting others first
Some marketers only promote their own products and services on social media.
But why not socially promote other people and companies first—and your own company second?
This can be done with no more of an expectation than getting on someone’s radar. Here are some ideas:
a) Share and comment on the LinkedIn posts of thought leaders in your industry
b) Follow your customers and share their social posts across networks
c) Retweet the content of those who could potentially refer business to you
A nearby wine storage company consistently retweeted the wineries located in their geographic area in order to get on the radar of those wineries.
Here’s an example of sharing someone else’s LinkedIn post with a comment:
5. Referring a prospect to someone first
There are three general types of business referrals.
a) Sell leads for cash. This is the business model of software review sites such as SoftwareAdvice.
b) Handoff leads to partners in exchange for a referral fee that’s only paid if the lead becomes a paying customer.
c) Refer leads out to people in your network first with only a slight expectation that you’ll get something in return.
Unlike the first two approaches, the third one requires no formal program or tracking. The more you refer out, the more likely you’ll be to receive something in return. This approach works best if you are part of a network of business people who sell into the same markets.
6. Giving away some of your time first
It used to be that if someone wanted to break into an industry such as radio and television, they would start as a free intern.
Unpaid internships are less common than they used to be. But they still exist and are still legal as long as the intern, not the employer, is the “primary beneficiary” of the work arrangement.
Some people who are in the early stages of their new business give some of their time for free in order to gain traction.
Even established businesses give their employees’ time away for free as part of the the 1-1-1 model. In the case of Salesforce, 1-1-1 was a foundational principle. Last I checked, this approach hadn’t hurt Salesforce’s business.
Why give away anything first?
If you give something first with little to no expectation, it’s possible that nothing will happen. On the other hand, you may realize unexpected returns with unexpected timing. Examples:
a) Your average sales cycle may get shorter over time
b) Someone you promote or refer a lead to may think of you, your product, or your service months or years down the road and send you a referral
c) If you’re a marketer, you may find yourself with an increasing number of leads to send to your company’s sales team