Born to Sell – One Woman’s Journey
May 8, 2014
I was born to sell.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs who taught me you can’t run a successful business if you can’t sell.
I founded The Bridge Group in 1998 and built the business for the first 10 years by cold calling. I’m one of those insane people who love the challenge -- though I now refer to it as “intelligent outbound”. So imagine my surprise, and chagrin, when the business landscape changed and I needed more than sales skills to win. I needed inbound marketing, content, and a pull strategy to compliment my push.
Now, I do believe in fate and around that time (late 2007) I was dabbling in recruiting and paid a fee to anyone who helped place a great candidate. Heidi Carlson (then a sales rep at HubSpot and now VP Sales for ViewDo Labs) had done just that. Heidi convinced me to take that fee and, rather than cut her a check, to invest it by signing up for HubSpot’s inbound marketing platform.
At the same time, my son Matt Bertuzzi was looking to make a career change. He had a Product Marketing background and joined the organization to give content a try.
Those two events combined to change my business
We started out slowly with blogging - short, snappy, informative, never pitchy. From there, we segued to publishing research reports on Metrics and Compensation and ebooks on trends and techniques. It took some time to find our voice, but over the last 3-4 years we’ve been doing our most interesting, useful and important work.
Today I can proudly say: I was born for selling, but I learned to love marketing.
The moral of my story is that sales skills alone can no longer a successful business build. While it is far from easy to transition from a sales-centric CEO (phone, face-to-face, email) to marketing-centric (writing, speaking, publishing). It is possible, valuable, and fun. Not to mention that our business has almost tripled as a result.
Here are some lessons I learned along the way.
1. Be totally honest with yourself about your writing skills
The ability to type doesn’t make you a great writer. Are you interesting? Can you convey a message that resonates?
2. If the answer is NO, then you need to find someone to partner with
Internally, externally, other - it does not matter. The content is in your head you just need to get it out there. Oh and if your answer is YES, still follow the directions above for ‘NO.’
3. Put aside time every day to write
I book an hour a day just for writing. If I am actually able to use 3 of those windows in a week I am thrilled. Your calendar eats your intentions for breakfast. Period.
4. Always land the plane
Content is quickly becoming white noise. Make sure that yours doesn’t fall into that category. Every piece should lead the reader down a path and give them something to do with what they’ve learned. Options are a dime a dozen. Execution is how we change lives.
5. Mind the 4 boxes
Not every piece of content that matters works (big thought leadership piece can flop). And not everything that works matters (‘click bait’ and ‘listicles’ work, but have the impact of a gnat). You can’t predict were your efforts will fall, so track where you’re spending your time and mind the boxes.