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6 Ways to Give Value First in Sales & Marketing and Why


Giving value first has become critical to improving sales and marketing results.

It creates trust with people you have just met and those you have yet to meet (‘strangers’ in marketing speak).

Below, you’ll gain insights into the transformative power of value-first strategies in sales and marketing because these techniques lead to more successful and sustainable business outcomes.

Giving value first in sales & marketing

According to Alex Hormozi, author of $100M Leads:

You can never provide too much value.
But you can offer too little.

You may have recently started a new business. You might be a salesperson who wants to close more deals faster. Perhaps you’re a marketer who wants to attract and convert more website visitors.

Whatever your situation or business goals, here are some ideas about what you can give first to help achieve those goals.

1. Give value during the sales process

Jeffery Gitomer is a long-time proponent of giving value first in the sales process.

According to Jeffrey, simply believing you are giving value is not enough. Value has to be perceived by the recipient.

He also says you should give without expectation (he says it three times in this timeless video).

People like to buy, and they don’t like to be sold. When you give value first, you are not selling. 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. However, the sales process will flow more naturally and require less time and effort.

2. Give value with 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 work in that industry, Greenlight offers a wealth of free content to help you run and grow your business.

Greenlight Guru Free Valuable Content

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.

There are boundless opportunities to give value on social media channels like LinkedIn and X.

In this example, Jon Richards of Evolve Video Marketing gives value first on LinkedIn.

Value can also be given first using 1:1 personalized videos that offer free advice to the recipient.

B2B marketing expert Ross Simmonds provides much value on X, Reddit, and other platforms. As he says in this X post, today’s content can give value to people well into the future.

Backlinks from authoritative domains are vital 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 provide a backlink from one or more of your guest posts before you ask for a backlink, you will be more likely to receive one.

Enfroy calls this a “pre-linking strategy.”

4. Promote others

Some marketers only promote their products and services on social media.

But why not socially promote other people and companies?

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) Repost social content of those who could potentially refer business to you

A wine storage company we know consistently retweeted content posted by wineries located in their area to get on the radar of those wineries.

5. Refer a prospect

There are three general approaches to 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 only paid if the lead becomes a paying customer.

c) Refer leads to people in your network first without expecting you to get leads back from them.

Unlike the first two approaches, the third requires no formal program or tracking. The more you refer out, the more likely you’ll 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. Give away some of your time

Years ago, if someone wanted to break into an industry such as radio or television, they would start as a free intern.

Unpaid internships are less common than they used to be. But they still exist and are legal as long as the intern, not the employer, is the “primary beneficiary” of the work arrangement.

Some people in the early stages of their new business give part of their time for free to gain traction.

Established businesses give their employees time away for free as part of the 1-1-1 model.

In Salesforce’s case, 1-1-1 was a foundational principle. Last I checked, this approach hadn’t hurt Salesforce’s business.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff posted on 𝕏 that over 18,000 companies have followed suit.

Why give value first?

Benefits often magically occur if you give things first without expecting something in return. In some cases, those benefits will be subtle.

Your average sales cycle may get shorter.

Someone you promote or refer a lead to may think of you, your product, or your service months down the road and send you a referral.

If you’re a marketer, you may see an uptick in leads to send to your company’s sales team.

On the other hand, giving value first doesn’t always work. It may be time to move on when you encounter those situations in the sales cycle.

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