Vendor wish list – teach, don’t sell

teach not sell

In previous posts, I’ve written about my wish list for information vendors. After nearly 18 years in business, I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate and purchase a lot of products, meeting lots of vendors along the way. I’ve also had a chance to notice some trends in the selling process.

One nice trend is that smart vendors have replaced selling with teaching. They’ve finally realized that promoting their informative whitepapers, blogs, podcasts, videos, and other content attracts more attention than unwanted emails, phone calls, and sales pitches. And guess what? They’re still making sales.

I have always demanded transparency from my vendors. Perhaps it’s my training as a librarian, but I want to know what is and isn’t in your database and where you get your information. How do I use your product in my work process? Yes, I’m the  grouchy customer with too many questions.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that many information vendors have developed what Dave Ramsey calls “the heart of a teacher.” They aim to gain our trust through knowledge and guidance, rather than the usual pitch. And, lately, I’ve noticed that I’m getting more answers to my pesky questions.

Here are some examples of vendors who have attracted my attention by teaching rather than selling:

Thomson Reuters – In their public records podcast series, I not only learned something new, for the first time ever I heard an aggreggator say that it’s never a good idea for investigators to rely on aggegated results. This is progress.

CyberTOOLBELT – At this year’s OSMOSIS conference, Chad Los Schumacher filled in for another speaker at the last minute and did an excellent job of explaining the basics of DNS searching, teaching this PI a thing or two – without pitching the product.

Dow Jones Factiva, For years, one of my go-to news sources has shared whitepapers written by industry expert Mary Ellen Bates. Bates also creates content for several other information providers that have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon.

Yergey InsuranceMike Yergey, one of our sponsors at the recent Rocky Mountain Private Investigators conference, used his introduction time to provide what amounted to a public service announcement about bond requirements for PI licensing. I’ll be getting a quote from Mike when my current policies expire.

Nothing good comes from the hard sell these days, and I hope to see this teaching trend continue.





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