If you’ve only been an entrepreneur for the past five minutes, then you might have a valid excuse for not knowing who GaryVee (or long-form Gary Vaynerchuk) is. For the rest of us, GaryVee has become a powerhouse of a name in entrepreneurship and successful business execution.
As the CEO of VaynerMedia, it’s not his net worth of $150 million or his all-star list of clients or his title as a New York Times best-selling author that make him THE person to follow in the digital marketing space.
Rather, it’s his unique ability to sell without selling that should prick the ears of digital marketers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Here are some of the key lessons we can learn by following in GaryVee’s footsteps and how you can continue delivering value as an entrepreneur without coming across as salesy:
Sales are the Destination, NOT the Vehicle
GaryVee built his entire career around sales. from selling lemonade to trading baseball cards to growing his parents’ wine business into a $60 million empire, he agrees that sales are the lifeblood of any business. However, it’s worth noting that while sales may be the end goal, there are a lot of things that have to happen first.
For Gary, those things focus on building trust with an audience, increasing brand recognition and value, and learning about your buyers’ needs. Sales may sustain the business, but ultimately they’re all about the people buying from you. Successful entrepreneurs need to be in tune with what their audience really needs and focus on ways that you can cater to those needs that not only fulfill them once, but turn your buyers into loyal fans.
Prioritize Strong Branding
Gary mentions in one of his blog posts that focusing on sales over branding is one of the biggest things you can do to limit your career. A strong, well-built brand can essentially do all of your selling for you without much effort.
He admits that one of the reasons he is one of the highest-paid public speakers is because his audience has bought into him, not his products. He encourages other salespeople and entrepreneurs to hold off on monetizing their audience for as long as possible. In doing so, you’re building back-end economics that will help to launch you forward once people realize just how valuable you are.
Stop Being Lazy
As a general rule, entrepreneurs and laziness are not typically used in the same sentence. In fact, entrepreneurs are usually the most dedicated, hard-working individuals you’ll ever meet.
However, we’re living in the era of automation and smart technology, and GaryVee mentions that we shouldn’t let simplified technology completely replace the human touch — especially when it comes to sales.
Sales is inherently a high-touch process. When some of these touchpoints are outsourced to automation, the entire process loses some of its value. Automation creates multiple shortcomings throughout the sales process and can a dental assistant Issa tea to the conversation.
Gary believes that when you try to automate a person-to-person conversation, you leave yourself vulnerable. Bots are not sophisticated enough, at least not at this point, to understand and create emotion in a conversation. They’re not able to effectively drive the sales process in a way that builds value and authenticity with the other person.
The best practice is to make sure you’re emphasizing the human element and showing your customers they’re worth your time. Otherwise, you risk building an image that you’re only focused on maximizing sales and keeping costs low.
Create Authentic Conversations
Authentic conversations most often lead to sales when sales is left completely out of the equation. Yes it sounds counterintuitive, but Gary notes that sales is a process that can’t be rushed. At least, not if you want to also build customer loyalty and make your brand look good in the process.
He gave a great example of this in a recent CNBC news story: if a florist wants to increase their sales, one of their go-to is might be to create an ad or a social media post that talks about they’re high-quality flowers. But instead, they should be using social media to find people who are having conversations about flowers, such as buying roses.
At this point, instead of dropping a link to your flower shop, you should offer suggestions on how to pick the best bouquet, discuss different types of roses and what they mean, or provide insight as to how people can tell how fresh their flowers are.
The steers the conversation completely away from sales and focuses instead on building value. As an expert in your industry, you’re in a unique position to share high-level insights that other people can benefit from but might not already know.
Once you’ve created this value, you can continue offering value by sharing a coupon or discount code for purchasing flowers in your shop. Even if you don’t have a flower shop, you can put the same method to the test with your own clients and prospects.
Develop Content to Elevate Your Brand
Content is one of the fastest paths to help you build your authority in your industry. Gary Compares content creation to the kids in high school that were popular by association. They’re the ones whose parents weren’t home often so they would end up hosting all the cool parties with the popular kids, even if they weren’t exactly popular themselves. But because they are associated with the cool kids, they became cooler by association.
Content marketing works in a similar way. It’s your opportunity to flex your expertise because you’re the creator, the host, the name behind the information you’re sharing.
Most notably, content is an excellent alternative to sending sales messages. Instead of pitching to prospects, you can send them a helpful piece of content or even invite them to be on your podcast. This not only elevates your brand, but also provides more value than any sales pitch ever could.