Why We Stopped Selling

Why We Stopped Selling

Mindset is a beautiful thing. You can change your entire outlook by merely adjusting the way you think.

When we launched Teach Starter, the only way I thought about sales was through my experience being sold to and by reflecting on what I had seen.

It’s incredibly easy to see something and assume that it must work; to believe that whoever created the ad had done the research and determined that this was the right way to convert customers. Taking something like this at face value without question usually prohibits innovation.

So that’s how we started selling. With discounts, deals, and terrible advertising copy.

Our monthly emails would go out, reading more like a sales pitch than a must-read article. Our Facebook posts peppered our members with discounts, deals and the occasional new resource (that you had to sign up and pay to download).

Now, terrible ad copy is terrible, but discounts worked. To develop lifelong customers, we couldn’t rely on a discounted price to be the only trigger to sign up. When it came time to renew, discount members were the first to drop off.

While this discount strategy served us well (and continues to serve us well in new markets), I knew that we needed a deeper reason for our members to fall in love with our brand.

Up until this point, our sales strategy went something like this:

Pay us, then we’ll give you value.

Over the last decade, digital subscription-based businesses have gone from obscurity to necessity. Despite not being a traditional business model, we were marketing based on a traditional way of thinking.

A fundamental mindset shift had to occur.

We had to stop selling.

Value First

“Give our members as much value as possible.”

I honestly can’t recall the number of times I’ve said this to our team.

Deciding to place value first wasn’t a massive mindset shift for our team. From launch, we have always aimed to surprise and delight our members with an unexpected free feature or gift, no strings attached. We even give away a new resource for free each day on Facebook.

We have built a dedicated content team whose role is to provide as much value as possible to our members in the form of inspiring, educational and entertaining content.

It’s incredible how much goodwill is gained through generosity.

Instead of ‘pay us, then we’ll give you value,’ our mantra became:

Here’s something awesome, enjoy!

The funny thing is, sales increased!

But here’s the kicker. You have to do all of this and expect absolutely nothing in return.

For this reason, going all in on content can be incredibly difficult for businesses to reconcile.

Lead With Content

Ads are changing, and Facebook has played a big part. Where we used to lead with discounts and product features, we now lead with content.

Here’s an example:

Leading with content.

Our team spent days working on a blog and video to share with our audience. We asked for nothing in return. There was no sales pitch, no hard sell, just some excellent content that inspired and educated our audience for free!

These are our ad campaigns. Easily consumable content with no hidden agenda. And they work.

That’s the fantastic thing about leading with content; you wholeheartedly believe in the value of what you’re sharing. Your customers realise this. They know that you’re doing this for them. That’s incredibly powerful.

Helping is The New Selling

What’s the first thing a sales assistant asks when you walk into a store?

‘How can I help?’

The problem with this line is that it is put forth with the wrong intentions. What they are really saying is, ‘how can I help you buy something from me?’.

When you truly believe in helping your customers, the question is genuine. You genuinely want to help them, regardless of whether or not they buy from you.

That’s care.

While selling might bring you a customer today, helping will create a customer for life.

I genuinely believe that by sharing valuable content, people will want to find out more about your brand.

They’ll want to buy from you.

Not because you’ve convinced them to, but because they have found so much value in what you provide that your product is just the icing on the cake.

This approach even makes content creation easier. You begin thinking, ‘What can I create that will help my audience?’.

Realising this new way of ‘selling’ meant that we had to stop selling.

It’s been a significant mindset shift, but one that I feel passionate about.

It’s liberating.

Being able to focus solely on how much value you can bring and how much you can help, shifts your focus from closing to collaborating.

You genuinely want to work with your customers to help them succeed.

The beauty is they’ll remember you and your brand long after the first sale.

Scott Tonges

Scott Tonges

I’m Scott. I’m a web designer & developer who builds digital products. I co-founded an EdTech business with my wife called Teach Starter.