Heidi Cohen Interviews Marcus Sheridan
New book: They Ask, You Answer – A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?
The most critical element of being “great” at marketing today is the obsession of knowing exactly what your customers and prospects are thinking, feeling, asking, doubting, and fearing when it comes to buying your products and services.
Simply put, most marketing departments aren’t perfectly in-tune to these elements of the buyer and the biggest reason is because they aren’t aligned with the sales team, they aren’t aware of customer issues/concerns as the sales team is, and they aren’t subject matter experts like most sales teams are.
If marketing teams aren’t keenly aware of everyday sales issues, they will very much likely fail to be great in 2017 and beyond.
Q: What was the inspiration for They Ask, You Answer?
The philosophy of They Ask, You Answer saved my business. It kept me out of bankruptcy. It brought me incredible financial peace. But it’s so much more than just “my” story. Because I’ve been writing about the principles of They Ask, You Answer for years, today, multiple organizations around the globe have also embraced these philosophies to massive success and results.
Q: What is the key concept behind They Ask, You Answer?
The key concept is what is found in the title: If anyone (a prospect or customer) has ever asked you the question, then as a company you feel it’s your moral obligation to address—be it in your website, your sales messaging, etc.
The way I came up with this was quite simple. When I was a pool guy on the brink of bankruptcy, I started studying the internet. During these studies, I became familiar with so many phrases, like: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Blogging, etc. But to me, all of these phrases essentially were saying the same thing: If you’re willing to obsess over what buyers are asking, and you’re willing to answer these questions (via text, video, etc.) then you just might be successful and save your business.
That’s when I sat down at my kitchen table late one night and brain-stormed the hundreds of questions I’d received over the years as a pool guy. With hundreds of questions written down, I began a journey that would eventually help us become what is essentially today the “Wikipedia” of pools.
Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book
Buyers have changed, and we, as businesses, better change with them—or we could be left behind.
- Buyers expect to be educated, fed, and understood. If they don’t feel these things (when they’re on our website or talking to our sales team) they will quickly move on to someone that is willing to hear their questions and answer them.
- Buyers aren’t dumb. Even the uninformed will become the informed. Therefore, our choice is simple: They can either learn from us or they can learn from the competition.
- Content, assuming it’s honest and transparent, is the greatest sales tool in the world.
- Every product or service has its own set of good, bad, and ugly. The smart companies are willing to openly discuss all three.
Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?
’m a professional speaker on digital sales, marketing and communication. Essentially, when companies want to become the most trusted voice in their space, they come to me and I show them how.
Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?
- How to Win Friend and Influence People: This was the best sales/marketing/communication book ever written. By far.
- The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin—to me, Franklin demonstrated the ultimate model of entrepreneurism, education, communication, and “giving back.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
It was easily the economic collapse of 2008. I was told by 3 separate consultants we should file bankruptcy. This was the most stressful time of my life, but it was also this very pain that caused me to “think outside the box” and do something that had never been done before.
Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
I lived in Chile for two years as a missionary, and thus, my college degree was in Spanish, with a minor in physical education. ( I thought I was going to be a football coach growing up!)
Q: Is there a piece of marketing content that you’re particularly proud of?
Today, River Pools, because of They Ask, You Answer, is the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world, getting about 600,000 visitors monthly.
- Name: Marcus Sheridan
- Company: The Sales Lion/River Pools and Spas
- Blog: www.thesaleslion.com
- Book: They Ask, You Answer
- Facebook: marcus.sheridan
- Twitter: @TheSalesLion
- LinkedIn: marcussheridan
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