Giving value first has become more critical than ever to improving sales and marketing results.
A big reason is that it creates trust with people you have just met and those you have yet to meet (strangers in marketing-speak).
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 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. 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 happen to be in that industry, Greenlight offers 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.
There are boundless opportunities to give value on social media channels like LinkedIn and 𝕏.
Here’s our friend, Jon Richards of Evolve Video Marketing, giving value first on LinkedIn.
3. Offer backlinks
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 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. 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 the case of Salesforce, 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.
Values Bring Value. 25 years ago, @Salesforce created the Pledge 1% model. Now, it's a global movement that has inspired over 18,000 companies in 100 countries to commit 1% of their equity, product, time, or profit to giving back. When we commit to our values, “Business is the…— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) September 22, 2023
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.
Co-founder at CRM Switch
Steve has over 25 years of experience working with CRM systems and has been involved with more than 150 implementations. His current focus is content marketing and SEO.