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February 3, 2016

Why a great business should focus on serving, not selling

By Kate Ellis

When it comes to creating a successful relationship-driven business model, with repeat and referral business, the number one thing you need to focus on is serving your customers instead of selling to them. Now, we need to be clear that there is nothing wrong with selling, however, there are many benefits to a focus on serving first. While selling is often a one-time thing, by focusing on serving clients instead, you’re setting yourself up for loyal customers, who are your best brand advocates.

Social media has really driven the need to distinguish between serving and selling. By nature, social media is two way, and relationship-based, which has helped popularize this model for businesses. It has made us more transparent and more ready to interact with our customers and has taken us away from a transactional approach.

But it’s not like this has taken business and revenue away; rather by focusing on a relationship driven business you are more likely to be successful. People buy from those who they know, like, and trust. And serving customers instead of selling to them is a long-term approach, which really focuses on building that relationship.

When you make people feel good they feel good about buying from you. Essentially, by focusing on serving them you and your business have earned the right to sell to them. To quote from Joe Chernov, good marketing makes the company look smart, while great marketing makes the customer feel smart.

To begin to incorporate this approach into your business you need to really learn about who your customers are and what they are looking for.

To serve your customers and clients you need to be a service or offer a product that gives them value, whether it be in their personal or business lives, whichever your business focuses on. To do this you need to learn more about them. Gather feedback on what customers are saying are their needs or learning what their pain points are.

Your ideal customer will have an issue that you’re service or product can solve, so that’s why it’s so important to learn as much as you can about them. We of course use buyer personas to fully flesh out who we are marketing and serving. Buyer personas are a great tool if you are working towards moving to a more service-based business. This way you know how to serving them and what they are looking for.

Your customers probably have a lot of questions. This is a major way that you can begin serving them. Through a blog, Youtube, podcasts, email, whatever the format, begin to answer those key questions. Set yourself up as the person with the knowledge, the expert who can explain what the problem is, how to look at all of the options, and ultimately how to solve the issue. Become their source of information.

"Fall in love with the problem not the solution, and the rest will follow,” Uri Levine

If you want to earn a million, you have to help a million people! If you focus on the value of what you are serving customers, then you will be able to generate the income and revenue you want. Help solve problems and people will come! Just like the law of attraction, put out into the world want you would like to get back.

This way it doesn’t feel like a sales transaction, people instead feel as if they are having a need met. They are willing to spend more time with you and feel like you are investing in them.That’s how you are able to get repeat referral business, because they trust you. We’ve found that our clients often cite that their most valuable customers have found them through those word of mouth. And although you may be investing a little more to focus on serving and adding value-added pieces of content for your clients, ultimately you’re making it easy for people to do business with you, making them more likely to refer others to you.

To begin, a good place is to train your team and start hiring those who are great at serving, not just selling. Make it your team's mission, to go above and beyond. Ask them what they have already noticed. What are they seeing that customers need or ask for? Empower them to be able to solve issues. Employees are your key ambassadors.

Lastly, keep up with latest trends, keep open communication with your customers, and continue to carry relationships forward. Stay at the top of their minds, by continuing to add with more value.

(This is a follow up blog to our weekly #MagnetMarketers session with Jessika Phillips, Mike Gingerich, and Ravi Shukle

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Tags: inbound marketing


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