How Helpful Are You Really?

I’ve been researching protein powder shakes. I typically run about 4 miles a few times a week, and I’ve found that I like to have a shake mixed with fruit, vegetables, and nuts after my run. It makes me feel good.

Now I know a LOT of direct selling companies offer these types of shakes. So I decided to ask for information about shakes that people like on my Facebook Profile. Now I kinda knew what I was setting myself up for. But still.

The onslaught began almost immediately. People touting the advantages of the shakes they sell. After an hour there were 63 responses. The instant messages arrived almost as quickly, filling up my inbox at lightning speed.

Yet there were only 1 or 2 people that asked me questions beyond what was my address so they could send me a sample. Why was I interested in shakes? What would I use them for? Did I have any dietary requirements (soy, whey, vegan, etc)?

And to be honest with you, the opinions I valued the most in the thread came from the people that took the time to understand my needs instead of just telling me how great their products were. Because you see, I still have a lot to learn. I don’t really know what my needs are. I don’t know the differences between products. If you want me to understand why your product is great, you need to educate me first in a way that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.

It’s simple really, and it’s something we know. You might think your one little post on a thread is not a big deal. But when a bunch of people jump all over a simple request, it becomes overwhelming. And it can happen on your company Facebook Page when someone asks for information and lots of people post their links, or elsewhere online or in person.

So the point is to be sensitive, and educate before you try to sell. Pay attention to the entire environment. And be SURE to ask about the needs of the prospect, their knowledge level, and educate as needed before launching into your sales pitch. It’s old advice but it’s still the best advice. I don’t know your product is good for me if you don’t take the time to understand me and my needs first.

When someone asks a question online, one that relates to your product, are you really being helpful? Or are you just a salesperson? Your approach can make all the difference.

Your thoughts?

14 Responses to How Helpful Are You Really?
  1. Christina Maynard
    April 28, 2012 | 6:59 pm

    Such a basic concept but soooo important. Thank you for posting this. I needed the reminder!


  2. Kathryn
    February 23, 2012 | 3:37 am

    I love this post. I am doing the same thing as yours. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Kathy O'Dowd
    February 20, 2012 | 1:45 pm

    Thank you for your insights. We are taught that, but some of us forget from time to time.

  4. Julie Peters
    February 19, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    Jennifer, this is so true and thank you for the reminder. I think we all need to remember it’s really about the client or friend asking the question. It will all come back around to us anyway if we do it for the right reasons.

  5. Leonard
    February 16, 2012 | 11:14 pm

    I am loving this post. I am doing same ritual as yours. After a run my body needs to be refreshed by shakes.
    Leonard recently posted..First Look at Finding the Best Woodworking Resource

  6. Stephane Lacroix
    February 15, 2012 | 8:59 pm

    Thank you Jen, it`s very important to try and be helpful to the person asking the questions. I think you really brought the point home and I can relate to you Facebook experience. It can feel like falling into the ocean and all of a sudden you find yourself face to face with hundreds of hungry sharks ready to have you for lunch.

    Thank you Jen.

    Stephane Lacroix recently posted..How To Manifest your Dreams (Flash Back 2010-11)

  7. Janette Stoll
    February 15, 2012 | 2:32 pm

    I love this post! I’m not sure what it is- desperation or lack of training or both- but one of the commenters said it perfectly – she likes to buy but doesn’t like to be sold to. Women are in particular (not to be sexist) prefer someone who listens first.

    I hope more people read this article.

    Janette Stoll recently posted..Jewel Kade & American Heart Month

  8. Jay Leisner
    February 15, 2012 | 10:41 am

    Perhaps one reason you received so many “buy my shake” responses is that the companies they represent don’t do a good enough job of telilng their reps what makes their shake different from others.

  9. Pat Zahn
    February 15, 2012 | 10:26 am

    Oh man…even though I know you knew what might happen, it’s still disheartening. You would hope that people would READ your stuff and “get it.” Direct Sales companies have lots of rules and policies for their Consultants, but not making the company and it’s reps look bad is not one of them. I think that is the fear that a lot of companies had when it came to allowing their Consultants to market on the internet.
    Pat Zahn recently posted..Meet the Queen of Completion 2012

  10. Mari DeZago
    February 15, 2012 | 10:22 am

    Early on in my career, we heard this phrase: Questions are the answer. As I have continued professionally with my company, I appreciate this simple phrase even more! Jen, I’m glad there were some questions posted that will help you sort through the myriad products to get the best for what you need right now.
    Mari DeZago recently posted..A Productive Week for My Mom

  11. Traci Reuter
    February 14, 2012 | 9:22 pm

    This is just another great reason why our industry needs to raise up professionals. It’s pros & cons of a powerful opportunity that anyone, from any background can start. Sadly most people don’t get the training they need & then just copy what they see.

    Thanks for taking the time to share such great insights.
    Traci Reuter recently posted..A Little Mistake That Could Cost You Profits: Your Facebook Brand

  12. Jhanna Dawson
    February 14, 2012 | 6:35 pm

    It was quite interesting to witness. I was almost like a feeding frenzy. Then out of the crowd came the one small voice that ASKED you a question. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw Mia’s post! I really did! lol..

    I understand that people are excited about their product, but….gosh…how do we create a networking 101 where relationships reign over a sale? Perhaps I’m hoping for too much?

    I don’t know about anybody else but, while I like to buy, I don’t like to be SOLD.

    Thanks for the good work.



  13. Loretta
    February 14, 2012 | 5:19 pm

    I agree 100%. Many people don’t understand the basics of listening. Posts like this help new people learn and serve as a good reminder to others.

    One of my customers asked me today how I was enjoying the business and I told her I love the business, but helping people make positive changes in their lives is even more rewarding. I’ve learned that I love listening, taking an interest in people, cheering them on and celebrating their success.

    I’m curious if many of the response posts were people representing the same company? When I see that I think it’s a bit tacky. If I saw someone post who also represents my company I would back off. I might post a question to help them out, if they didn’t respond properly but I wouldn’t try to take over.

  14. Gill Ashby
    February 14, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    So true it is all about building a relationship, this takes time. Who likes being shouted at not listened to, why would you want to listen. You may think your product is the best but the person you are talking at just feels they are being talked at not talked to.

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