You know how they say you always travel three times: when you plan your trip, when you are actually traveling, and when you remember your trip. I will let you in on a little secret: I am obsessed with traveling and travel planning! I already have detailed itineraries for our upcoming trips to Scotland, Paris, and the Amalfi coast all buttoned up. While my family will groan playfully when I announce yet another trip, they have learned to trust me to organize an amazing trip for them that everyone will enjoy to the fullest.
But when you sign up for a coach-led They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program, you embark on a journey that seems somewhat opaque. Yes, you probably have read the book by Marcus Sheridan and know what the end destination will look like, but the actual travel details are largely unknown to you as you set out. If you are a person who likes to plan in detail, this might make you slightly uncomfortable.
Below, I map out the milestones a coach will take you through, which will give you a rough itinerary or roadmap on your journey towards They Ask, You Answer Mastery. However, it is important to note that this implementation plan isn't set in stone as every organization begins their journey at a different starting point and each journey will vary somewhat. Trust your coach to implement each step at the right time for your organization.
How Long Is A They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program?
The goal of the They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program is to take you from where you are right now to not only having successfully implemented all the important milestones of They Ask, You Answer to generate more leads and close deals faster independent from marketing agencies, but also being fully set up for long-term success. Depending on where you are right now and how fast you can implement change internally, this can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months.
What Does A They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program Entail?
This will be accomplished through a series of events such as the annual company-wide workshop / townhall meetings and quarterly planning sessions during which all priorities for the next 90 days are decided upon. In addition to that, we will travel on this journey together with:
- Content manager training (weekly)
- Videographer training (weekly)
- HubSpot training (weekly as needed)
- Communication coaching (ongoing)
- Sales training (as needed)
Now that you know what the goal is and what the means are to achieve this goal, let's have a look at an 18-month sample implementation roadmap to give you a better feel for what areas we will cover and how involved this will be.
Months 1-3: Getting Started
- Get everyone on board with They Ask, You Answer (Workshop)
- Hire & onboard your in-house content manager
- Align your marketing and sales team behind a common goal
- Set up HubSpot (incl. reporting)
- Map out your sales process
- Create a content strategy (editorial calendar)
Getting everyone on board with They Ask, You Answer (Workshop)
We start off our journey together by getting everyone on the same page and behind the mission of They Ask, You Answer. And if I say everyone, I mean everyone in your organization. Because this program requires a lot of internal change, you will need to explain the "Why?" and the "What's in it for me?" One of the best ways to do that is to hold a 1-day sales and marketing alignment workshop.
- They Ask, You Answer Fundamentals With Marcus Sheridan
- What is a sales & marketing alignment workshop?
Hire & onboard your in-house content manager
Hiring and onboarding the right person for your in-house content marketing as soon as possible is critical to your They Ask, You Answer success. If you already have a content manager, they can fill this role as well, but it has to be clear to them and everyone else that they will solely focus on creating Big 5 articles and other TAYA content full-time. If you have to hire someone new, we recommend that you look for someone with a journalistic background rather than a marketing professional. Get ready because, in the next six to nine months, your content manager will undergo intensive training!
Align your marketing and sales teams behind a common goal
The core of They Ask, You Answer boils down to answering your customers' questions in a helpful, truthful, and unbiased way, and who knows more about the questions, concerns, and objections that are keeping your prospects up at night than your sales team. Unite your sales and marketing teams in a revenue team with the goal of creating content that is not only very heavily influenced by your sales team but, as a result, is also something they find so helpful that they will use it when engaging with potential buyers throughout the sales process.
Setting up HubSpot (Including Reporting)
They Ask, You Answer will create tangible business value for your organization. To prove to your management the return on your They Ask, You Answer investment, you will need to precisely understand what works and what doesn't. To do so, you will need to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation solution such as HubSpot. We recommend setting up your CRM quickly to start tracking all leads and deals as soon as possible. You also will learn how to set up the right reporting so you can track your TAYA progress.
Map out your sales process (on paper and in HubSpot)
After you have learned how to implement the basics of the HubSpot CRM, it is time to get your sales process mapped out. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only document your process step-by-step, but also find areas for improvements and opportunities for automation. Now it is time to implement that sales process within the HubSpot CRM using the right lifecycle stages, lead status, and deal stages. Think about all the questions your prospects have to have answers to at each stage at the buyer's journey and define which criteria have to be met on your end before moving them to the next step.
Create a content strategy (including an editorial calendar & quality standards)
Finally, it is time to create your content strategy. While this generally includes blog articles, pillar pages, lead generation assets such as eBooks, whitepapers, and guides, as well as videos, we will focus on creating some guardrails (quality checklists, general topics to cover) and an editorial calendar for the first 24-36 Big 5 articles for now. But don't worry, because you will be holding regular content brainstorming sessions and, with the help of your coach, you will develop a solid content strategy over the next few months.
Wow, the first three months are often a whirlwind of activity getting all the right puzzle pieces in place, but you already have achieved so much.
Months 4-6: The Rubber Meets The Road
- Produce 2-3 Big 5 articles a week
- Take a HubSpot deep dive
- Consider doing a website refresh to optimize for TAYA
- Create a learning center
- Address your pricing on your website
- Start assignment selling, 1:1 videos, and virtual selling
Producing 2-3 Big 5 articles every week
Your content manager has now been with you for six to eight weeks. By now, they have learned how to interview internal subject experts on the five topics that really drive traffic, leads, and sales (price & cost, potential problems, best of, compare and versus, and reviews — also called The Big 5) and write high quality articles in a They Ask, You Answer style. They are steadily producing two or three articles a week, depending on your company size and industry. They also will share any updates on in-progress and published articles with the sales team as part of the revenue team meetings.
- How To Write “The Big 5”
- The Big 5: The Best Blog Topic Categories To Drive Organic Traffic & Qualified Leads
Taking a HubSpot deep dive
Next, we will focus on your HubSpot implementation and take a deep dive into maximizing your HubSpot investment. Depending on where you are with your internal HubSpot implementation, you could start off with the basics like creating optimized conversion paths, set up smart CTAs to increase conversion, cleaning up a messy portal, and creating workflows. Your HubSpot trainer will work with your HubSpot owner to implement and optimize whatever is needed to move you forward on this journey.
Consider doing a TAYA website refresh
Most websites today are very us focused: about us, our products and services, our team, and so on. But They Ask, You Answer is all about your customer and their journey. Your new website should reflect that. A They Ask, You Answer optimized website will follow a proven framework that lets your visitors easily navigate their journey from awareness to purchase on your website.
- Redesign your website to become more customer focused
- Why "How Often Should I Redesign My Website?" Is The Wrong Question To Ask
Create a learning center
Now that you are starting to create valuable content, you want to ensure that people find it. Showcase your most helpful articles in an easy-to-navigate Learning Center. This can also include any videos or recorded webinars you might already have, as well as any other resource that you think might be helpful to your audience. Review and revise this regularly to include the best-performing resources. It helps to have an option to filter (e.g., by topic, content type, and/or industry) or simply group them in a useful, easy-to-navigate manner, e.g., "New to XXX? Start here!"
Address your pricing on your website
What is the number one question you ask yourself if you are buying something? What does it cost, right? It is funny that when we are the buyers, we will research this question to death, but as business owners/managers we often shy away from answering that same question. Now, there might be legitimate reasons why you might not be able to put your pricing information on your website, but you can address it in a way that allows your prospects to understand what goes into your pricing, what makes it go up or down, and what a general range looks like.
Start assignment selling, 1:1 videos, and virtual selling
For the last three months or so, your content manager has produced high-quality content that is fully aligned with your sales process. To get immediate ROI, your sales team will learn how to proactively utilize this content at strategic points during the sales process to educate the buyer. This is called assignment selling. They will also learn how to create, position, and send 1:1 videos as part of their sales communication, and how to more effectively sell virtually. This will show immediate results on the length of your sales cycles and the quality of your sales conversations (and, therefore, outcomes).
Months 7-9: Diving Into Video
- Hire and onboard a videographer and purchase video equipment
- Create a video marketing strategy and set video quality standards
- Fine-tune content marketing skills and produce in-depth buyer's guide
- Sales analytics and reporting
- Celebrate wins!
Hire and onboard a videographer and purchase video equipment
Now that your written content is flowing out abundantly and contributing value, it is time to turn your attention to video and hire an in-house videographer! Your coach will help you hire and onboard your new videographer. Just like your content manager, this hire will receive training on how to create effective Selling 7 and other related videos that will completely change your relationship with potential prospects and buyers. Your coach will also give guidance on what video equipment is required, nice-to-have, and overkill to make sure you get the best ROI out of your video investment.
Create a video marketing strategy and set video quality standards
Once you have started your video journey, you will find that you want to make videos of everything! Carefully crafting a video marketing strategy will ensure that you are investing your time, energy, and money into videos that either help answer a buyer's question, allow your prospects to experience your product/services up close, or establish your team members as an authority in the market. It is proven that these types of videos impact your bottom line. In addition, we will help you set video quality standards to ensure your videos are on-brand every time.
Fine-tune content marketing skills and produce in-depth buyer's guide
Depending on the skills and experience of your content manager, they will go through a six-to-nine month content training. At this point, they have written anywhere between 60 and 80 They Ask, You Answer articles and have a significant amount of experience with crafting the right blog post intros, writing action-oriented conclusions, hitting the right conversational tone, and so on. Now, it is time to take it up to the next level and fine-tune their content marketing skills. Your content trainer will also guide you in identifying the right articles that could be repurposed and reconfigured into your first in-depth buyer's guide.
Sales analytics and reporting
After nine months, you have a good amount of data to digest, analyze, and report on. It's now time to fine-tune the initial reporting that you set up at the beginning of this journey and dive into some analytics. For example, find the answers to the following questions:
- Which blog posts have most contributed to generating good-quality leads and closing sales?
- Has our sales cycle accelerated since we started and why?
- How has our close rate improved? Are there differences between sales professionals and why?
You are about half-way there and it is time to take a moment to celebrate not only your hard work, but also your wins company wide. This shouldn't only focus on hard numbers — it should also include customer stories and feedback. Walk your organization through a sales process from the beginning to the end and explain how the customer found your educational approach helpful and how this impacted your relationship. Celebrate individuals' contributions to this success by holding watch parties and show-and-tell sessions!
Months 10-12: Chugging Along
- Producing Selling 7 videos
- Create a YouTube channel
- Create first pillar page / corner stone content
- Create self-service tools, e.g., ROI calculator
- Hold annual company-wide alignment workshop
Producing Selling 7 videos
Just as your content manager is laser-focused on creating 2-3 Big 5 articles a week, your videographer is getting two videos a week (or 10 videos a month) produced and published. These primarily focus on the Selling 7 videos:
- 80% videos (answer the most frequently asked questions about a product or service)
- Employee bio videos (introduce each of your team members to establish trust with a prospect)
- Product/service videos (describe your product or service, including who this is and is not a good fit for)
- Landing page videos (set expectations and communicate value with the goal to increase conversion rates)
- Cost videos (explain how pricing works in detail and answers pricing related questions)
- Customer journey videos (showcase how your products and services have helped other customers in the past, establishing social proof)
- “Claims we make” videos (show your buyers that the claims you make about who you are and what you do are true)
Create a YouTube channel
While a lot of your videos will already live on your website, your video trainer will guide you through the process of setting up an optimized YouTube channel and will show you how to upload and optimize your videos for search engines so they can be found by a larger audience. Because so many of your videos will answer the questions your buyers are having and searching YouTube for, this will drive traffic to your website.
Create first pillar page / corner stone content
By now, you have a significant library of articles. In fact, it might feel a little overwhelming for prospects to look through your blog to find the answer. It's time to organize them in what is called a pillar page or corner stone content. Think of this as a comprehensive, yet high-level overview of an entire topic (e.g., A step-by-step guide to realizing your passive house dream) which links out to all relevant blog posts to dive deeper into individual topics.
Create self-service tools, e.g., ROI calculator
Your buyers want to do as much exploring, researching, and discovering as they can themselves. Rather than forcing them to talk to a sales person to get information, allow them to self-discover it at their own pace (which will be much faster if you give them the right tools) and then they will be willing to call your sales rep. These tools could be a detailed cost or ROI calculator, a configuration tool to virtually build your product, and so much more.
Hold annual company-wide alignment workshop
Congratulations! You have completed a full year of your They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program. Since you held the workshop 12 months ago, you might have had new hires join or some people fall back into old habits, so it is a good practice to host a company-wide workshop. Most people will find that they learn a ton of new things and that a workshop sparks new, innovative ideas that they had not considered until then. It is also a good idea to include a watch party of outstanding content or do additional TAYA training while you have everyone there.
Months 13-15: Improve, Improve, Improve
- Focus on website usability & stickiness
- Evaluate progress of content and video strategy
- Refresh & reuse already-published content
- Sales check-in & communication coaching
Focus on website usability & stickiness
By now, you will have drastically improved the number of organic website visits! It's time to evaluate your website for usability and stickiness. Most likely, you will already have done a website refresh that optimized your website for They Ask, You Answer in the early months, but now you should focus on improving the user experience you provide your visitors with and enticing them to keep coming back to continue to learn from and engage with your content.
Evaluate progress of content and video strategy
While you will be constantly reporting on the performance of your written and video content, it is good to stop and evaluate the progress towards your outlined goals. Are there any topics or types of articles or videos that are outperforming others or not at all performing as expected? Which contribute directly to revenue the most? These kinds of questions will help you to either redefine your content strategy or adjust your production goals to better align with your strategy.
Refresh & reuse already-published content
Some of your content is now over a year old. With the help of your content trainer, identify which pieces of content would significantly benefit from a refresh and talk about how to update each piece. This ensures that your articles are up-to-date and still highly relevant to your readers, but also signals to search engines that you are investing in your content.
In addition, high-quality content, whether it is video or written, can be reused in so many different ways. You can add newly produced videos into the relevant blog posts or add blog posts into your videos as an additional resource. You can quickly and easily create eBooks, guides, or other lead-generation assets from your older blog posts. There are endless opportunities and ways to reuse already-published content.
Sales check-in & communication coaching
Over the past year, your sales team has had multiple training spurts with our sales trainer, so by now, your team has embraced and mastered not only assignment selling, virtual selling, and 1:1 video, but also how to establish themselves as a teacher or trusted advisor with their customers. At this point, it is helpful to have a check-in to identify additional training gaps. We conclude the sales training with some communication coaching that emphasizes the principles of They Ask, You Answer.
Months 16-18: Getting Ready To Graduate
- Hold your first planning session alone
- Hand-over & setting you up for long-term success
Hold your first planning session alone
Once your coach determines that you have achieved a score of 80+ on your They Ask, You Answer Mastery Scorecard, you are ready to take the reigns and prepare for graduation. The first step is for your TAYA leader to head up their first planning session by themselves. Your coach will attend as a participant and provide feedback and guidance after the call, but this is your opportunity to shine!
Hand-over & setting up for long-term success
The goal of the They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program is to set you up for long-term success. In other words, the aim is to allow you to generate high-quality leads, shorten sales cycles, and close more deals without ever having to depend on a marketing agency or ad spend again. This requires that the organizational changes we have put in place over the past 18 months or so are deeply rooted in your company's mission and corporate culture and will not be abandoned after you graduate. This step ensures that every team member will continue to be aligned with the company's commitment to They Ask, You Answer for a long time to come.
Finally, the big day has come! It is graduation day! You have now successfully completed the program and are now officially a They Ask, You Answer Master.
The They Ask, You Answer Mastery Program covers A LOT of ground in just 18 months and will not only transform your marketing and sales team, but also your leadership and customer relationships. There are hundreds of tasks and activities to be completed and countless lessons learned along the way, but don't worry. Your coach and trainers will guide you through it step-by-step so you can focus on mastering the skills required that will soon become second-nature to you and your team.
Ready to get started? Schedule a quick 15-minute call with me to learn more.
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