Morning brew is one of the fastest growing business newsletters started by co-founders Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, from a dorm room at the University of Michigan in 2015 as a hobby — first as a means of engaging other students, then locals, and then a few years later around 2.5 million modern business leaders (MBL), eventually being purchased by Business Insider for $75m.
However before they could sell, before they built their business, they had to learn how to sell.
Neither of the founders had any experience in sales, ad sales, marketing or really any other kinds of commercial transactions. This was a major problem for the two full time entrepreneurs, trying to figure out how to make money.
First, they wen’t out and spoke to every single person they knew in their network who was working in agencies, sales, marketing and just focused on consuming as much information as they possibly could.
Rule #1. Sell with stories. Paint a picture.
The MB team did a fantastic job of building a profile of their reader, the “Modern Business Leader”. This allowed them to tell an incredibly impactful story of why advertisers should purchase ad space in the newsletter and who they would be communicating with.
Tip. Write down a few meaningful stories that you can quickly tell your customer while you’re pitching/demoing your product.
Rule #2. Sell the vision and dream. Don’t focus on the product.
Buyers want to buy products from people that align with their companies vision. The MB team focused on the lifestyle and audience that the ad buyer was tapping into. They didn’t speak about CPM, CPC, newsletter audience size or open rate.
They focused on selling the concept of the target reader/audience being a “Modern Business Leader”, and highlighted the perfect audience member that the buyer needed to get in front of.
As opposed to how advertisers traditionally sell, incorrectly focusing on product features.
Tip. People buy with trust, and justify with logic. If the buyer feels as though you are synced up with their vision, you’re honest and they like you. They’ll justify buying from you, even if you aren’t the cheapest / best option.
Rule #3. Solve business problems, and personal problems of people in the business.
Remembering that the people they were selling to needed to justify their purchase to their own managers so they focused on being the choice that would make the buyers look good. They also focused on agencies that were more open to taking risk and they identified their ideal customer profile, and part of that profile had more of a propensity to smaller, niche outlets that accepted new ideas and a little bit of risk.
Tip. Remember, even in B2B, you’re still selling to people. Remember that every person you’re selling to has personal problems they’re trying to solve for in their work. They all have managers they need to make happy. Solve the problems of the people you’re selling to, and they’ll be much more likely to purchase your product.
Sometimes the best way to learn something is to start with a blank slate. The MB team understood the value of identifying their USP (unique selling proposition — modern marketer), telling stories, building trust, identifying their ICP (ideal customer profile), solving problems and being human, when they sell.
This is a master class in sales.