Did you ever drive down a street and seen a roadside sign advertising free stuff? Maybe it was a free sofa, chair, or table. Maybe it was a free lawnmower or bicycle. It could have even been free kid's stuff. Nearly all of the free stuff you find on the side of the road, available to the first taker, is somebody else's junk. Instead of throwing it out, and rather than taking the time to donate it (if an organization would have it), they are simply giving it away.
On the Web, there are three kinds of free sales content available.
There are free articles - like this one - where you could be inspired, might have to think a bit, might learn of an approach you weren't aware of, or might be privy to some statistics or science you hadn't read about.
There are free White Papers, which could be anything from a scientific report on Sales Selection, Longevity,Trust, or The Challenger Sale (the topics of my White Papers), to a marketing piece made to look like a scientific report.
And there are Free Downloads offering a great value in exchange for your name and email address. I downloaded one such free value this weekend - a Sales Process Cheat Sheet which promised a standardized playbook and a simple, easy-to-follow sales methodology cheat sheet to help managers coach their inside sales reps into following a proven, standardized process from discovery to close. Was there value? It was a joint promotion from Hubspot and InsideSales.com.com - maybe you received the same offer in your inbox. Was it any good? Was it a process? Was it a playbook? Was it a methodology?
It was designed for inside salespeople - BDR's and SDR's whose role is to connect with a prospect and book a meeting for an account executive. In my opinion, it was not a Playbook because it did not show how to execute the call. Playbooks are how-to's with scripts and action trees. It was not a Methodology because it did not have a defined approach for moving from one milestone to the next. Methodologies focus on the kind of conversation that is required to move from one step and stage to the next. And it was not a Process because it was focused on tasks and outcomes, more than a series of milestones. A sales process must have stages (typically 4-6) and within each stage, milestones that build on each other.
Worse than not being any of the things it was marketed to be, it was WAY TO COMPLEX for sales reps whose job is to book meetings. By comparison, the sales processes that Kurlan & Associates builds for companies are designed to be thorough, yet clear, concise and simple. Simple does not imply that it is inadequate. Simple means that it works without being overly complex or difficult to execute. Of course Kurlan charges for its work and the cheat sheet we have been talking about was free. Does that mean it was as valuable as the old sofa, chair or table?
One of the many reader emails I received last week was from someone complaining that he used to get value from my articles but no longer felt like he did. I responded to him, apologized, and asked what I could write about that would be valuable for him. He didn't respond. No article can be all things to all people. I'm sure that if you're a regular reader, you dismiss some as easily as you find some save-worthy. Then there's the free part. I always save the best stuff for the paying clients, for the consulting and training and coaching and evaluating and recruiting. Unfortunately, and honestly, the material you get for free falls more into the tease category than the value category. Even Amazon Prime does that. There are certain movies that Prime members can watch for free, but you have to pay for the best stuff.
There are some great thought leaders writing good articles in the sales space. Just look at the list of the Top 50 Sales Bloggers and you will surely find some useful free content. But as with my material, the others will save the best, most valuable, and most important information for their paying clients.
It's great that today you can get stuff for free. Just don't confuse what you get for free with what others are paying for.
Speaking of paying - this is the final call for the last 2 available seats for my Sales Leadership Intensive, May 17-18 outside of Boston.