The dangerous confusion of sales and content marketing

Think about what actually happened after that speech, however: 14,000 marketers left the room fired up to take what a good salesperson is supposed to say to a customer, and…uh…write it down.


In fact, that’s exactly what does, and Pink left that audience of 14,000 marketers fired up with the charge to become helpful, servant sellers by creating content that is helpful and useful, so that the well-equipped buyer will inexorably come to the right decision—to buy our products and services.


Today, however, a car buyer walks into a dealership with near total information—sometimes more than the salesperson! So how can the seller succeed? Pink argues that salespeople need to become “servant sellers,” providing helpful information, answering questions, and generally providing a good experience—before any sale is made.


Pink went on to talk about how sales used to be in the days prior to the Internet by giving the example of the used car salesperson. Twenty years ago, if you walked into a dealership, the salesperson had ALL the information—what the invoice price was, how much the options really cost, how much your car was worth, and so on. The buyer, however, had little information. In short, it was a time of information asymmetry, which resulted in a profitable situation for the seller.


Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote speech by , author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, at the Inbound conference in Boston. In his speech, he asked an audience of roughly 14,000 marketers “How many of you sell?” Nearly every hand went up–it seems like a reasonable thing to agree with these days, right?


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