No one likes to take orders. Well, maybe a few do, but certainly not many of us, and especially those of us that are business owners. It’s probably part of the reason we started a company in the first place. So when a new business opportunity arises, and we start our consultative sales process, and the potential lead tells us what exactly it is they need, we can get a little frustrated.

This isn’t because of ego or anything like that. Instead, it’s because we believe that WE are the experts and that WE know what exactly it is that the business at hand needs.

A little perspective

A lead comes in via our website (we practice all the inbound we preach!) and initially things look like a perfect fit. Industrial, B2B and the company is just the right size. They have a marketing department, but it’s small, and it looks like we’ll be valued for our advisory capabilities, as well as our ability to execute. They have a decent backlink profile and they’re a company with which we WANT to work.


And then we hear something like the following: “I need a new website.” “I need a print campaign.” “I need new branding.”

The requests come in a variety of combinations. And sometimes, they’re not 100% misguided. The business DOES need something they’ve identified. However often, they need something a little different than what they think. And that doesn’t mean bigger…in fact, maybe what they need is smaller.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I need a huge new website” when really what a business needed was more leads out of their current website. Or how many times we’ve heard “I need to run a print ad campaign to increase exposure” when really what’s needed is a solid SEO effort in order to increase brand awareness in a consultative manner (think: thought leadership via educational content). The symptoms are thought to be many and the perceived needed meds vary. But from experience (and lots of it at that), if a lead is a B2B industrial company, we can almost always guarantee the path to recovery includes more traffic to a website, more leads for the sales team, and/or a way to nurture cold and lukewarm opportunities until they’re ready to buy. And we know the best tools to do such.

Do businesses know best?

But for some reason, sometimes our potential clients don’t want to trust our expertise. They’re willing to pay us a large sum of money to do work for them, but they don’t want to take our recommendations on what works best. They look at the relationship as if they’re having a really expensive dinner and we’re nothing more than a waiter. Sure, they might listen to our recommendation to try the pepperloin, as it’s a house specialty and the recipe hasn’t been tweaked since the 60s. But ultimately, they’re going to pick what sounds appetizing.

They simply want to place an order. We need them to shift that thinking.

We need them to think of us as a doctor. They present their symptoms, we prescribe what we know is tried, true and tested. Results are good. They’re smiling. We’re smiling. The relationship grows, and business is better for everyone.

Okay, a little more perspective…

When visiting the doctor, do you tell him/her what you need? Or do you explain your symptoms and trust the good doc for the solve? For me, it’s certainly the latter. After all, I can’t even hope to have the expertise that these well-educated folks have.

Don’t get me wrong – I can WebMD with the best of them, but when it comes to a true course of action, I’m not going to trust anyone with my health other than someone who is an expert. Why wouldn’t you do the same with your marketing?