What is Assignment Selling?
Do you find your business spends too much time on bad-fit customers and answering the same questions over and over? If so, assignment selling could be the solution.
Assignment selling is a hugely effective way to build trust, reduce poor quality leads and get higher click-through rates.
In a nutshell, assignment selling is about creating content to answer your customer's most asked questions before they make a purchase. By making this content available, and using it in your sales process, you allow customers to find the answers they need so that they can decide if your brand will be a good answer to their problem.
Before your sales team tries to make a deal, the customer has already taken the time to educate themselves and are less likely to drop out of a purchase because they know exactly what to expect.
At Vanguard 86, we believe in using the assignment selling method as part of the ‘They ask, you answer’ framework. Using informative blogs, videos, and FAQ articles to answer the burning questions of their customers, we attract the buyers that are most likely to make a purchase and give them the answers they need. With customers feeling empowered and brands making more sales, it’s a no-brainer.
Assignment selling is an uncomfortable concept for many salespeople because it involves giving the prospect homework. Why is this offensive to some salespeople? Because they see their role as doing work for the prospect, not giving them more.
Some even see their role in the relationship as being there to take work off the customer’s hands. It’s this misconception that stops many good salespeople from becoming great salespeople.
Assignment selling in a nutshell
During the sales process, a salesperson can lean on assignment selling for several reasons. These reasons include:
Educating the customer on their options
Vetting the prospect’s suitability as a customer
Testing the lead’s level of interest
Reducing the chance of issues after the sale
All of these are great reasons to use assignment selling. They benefit both parties equally and build a very different relationship between the salesperson and the prospect. Let’s explore each in more detail.
Educating the customer
This is one of the most valuable ways in which assignment selling is used. The homework you set the prospect could be to gather more information to ensure the solution you, as the salesperson, propose is the correct one. It may involve completing a survey, taking a quiz or asking other decision-makers key questions.
This application of assignment selling can help a salesperson consult on the best solution with greater levels of accuracy, and makes the customer feel more involved and like the solution is tailored to their needs.
Vetting the prospect’s suitability
This additional homework can also be beneficial in the salesperson’s vetting process. You don’t sell to everyone in the world, and some people are better customers than others. Assignment selling helps you to weed out the good fit prospects from the tyre kickers.
For a busy, or apex salesperson focusing efforts on the leads that are more likely to generate success is key.
Testing the lead’s level of interest
Many prospects say all the right things, have an urgent need and have an approaching deadline yet, somehow, they suddenly go quiet. This could be because their level of interest was lower than communicated.
Assignment selling helps you to assess their actual interest by giving them a small hoop to jump through. If they’re not willing to put in a little bit of work then chances are they’re not actually that keen.
Reducing the chance of issues after the sale
A quick sale is a good sale but not if it’s because someone bought something when they thought they were getting something else.
Assignment selling can educate a customer on the long-term maintenance requirements, common challenges or situations for which your solution isn't suitable so they can avoid any post-purchase regrets.
How does it fit into ‘They ask you answer’?
The framework of ‘They ask you answer’ is built on the idea that customers are more likely to buy from a business they trust. By creating relevant content that addresses customer concerns, a business can foster that trust and build a rapport with them.
Giving prospective customers content to actively engage with before you make a sales pitch makes them feel connected, understood and well-informed. Assignment selling can often pull on articles created under the Big 5 as the sales people set the ‘homework’ of reading an article the company has produced, as an example.
The Big 5
There are five key categories for this kind of content marketing, which are known as ‘The Big 5’. These categories include all the topics that customers are most interested in and are likely to search for.
By creating content about each of these five categories, your business can intercept prospective customers, give them relevant answers to their questions and build trust with them.
Let's break down the big 5 to help you get started assignment selling today.
Before making a purchase, customers want to know how much they’ll need to pay, and why. But in reality, many companies choose to shy away from this question for the fear of scaring customers off.
However, even if a customer is attracted in the early stages, that doesn't mean that they won't back out later. That’s why providing clear, informative content about your pricing from the beginning can put you well ahead of your competition by building your authority in the industry and reducing wasted leads.
For some industries, giving a set price isn’t always possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create this kind of content marketing. At the very least, you should be explaining what factors can affect the pricing and why the quotes you give are as high or low as they are.
In this way, customers will be assured they’re getting a fair price and know exactly where their investment is going. You can also discuss the long-term costs of a certain product or alternative solution. The costs that may arise from getting the decisions wrong are also good to cover in blog articles.
If you’re concerned to be talking about costs in your industry, then don’t be. Another perspective on this is to think back to your feelings the last time you wanted to know the cost of something but couldn’t find the price. Did you cut the business some slack and pick up the phone to talk about it or did you move on to the next Google search result to see if they were more transparent?
Examples of cost articles:
- HubSpot software pricing explained
- How Much Does It Cost To Be Successful With LinkedIn Ads?
- How Much Do Google Ads Cost?
Similarly to pricing, businesses tend to avoid talking about the problems with their product or service. But customers know nothing is perfect so by not disclosing this information, businesses can seem deceptive and deter customers without even realising.
On the other hand, you can cultivate an open, honest relationship with your customers by giving a clear, informative explanation of everything that can go wrong with your product or service. For the most part, customers will feel more comfortable making a purchase knowing they’ve heard all sides to the story, and if not, then they weren’t a good fit anyway.
A great way to format a problems article is to give clear, helpful information for each potential issue, including why it might occur, and follow it with solutions your company is offering to counteract it. This way customers are aware of the problems from the beginning but also know exactly how your company is addressing them.
Problem articles can help bad-fit prospects opt-out when your solution doesn’t apply to them, as long as you are transparent and honest about it. For example, a digital marketing agency like Vanguard 86 isn’t a good fit for a business that wants a completely hands-off approach to its marketing. T
he reason for this is that we still need ongoing input from the business, such as relevant details, approvals and feedback to ensure the marketing is working.
Examples of problems articles:
- Problems with Review Tui customer feedback software
- Avoid these critical LinkedIn mistakes
- Problems with customer feedback
If customers are wanting to make a purchase, it’s common for them to compare one brand to another. The best way to target these customers is with content that gives objective evaluations of each version of the product, and what each brand caters to. It can be tempting to talk your competitors down here, but be wary of this because it can detract from your authority.
The key is to be unbiased so that your readers continue to trust your brand and the information you provide. If you make baseless claims you can leave your customers feeling misled and disappointed, and more likely to look elsewhere. However, by stating your bias openly and sticking to the facts, you can reassure them that your brand is reliable, honest and knowledgeable.
As long as you’ve been clear about your bias previously, the outro is a good opportunity to include a prompt for customers to engage with your brand further. Whether it be a link to your website, a call with a sales rep or a products page, you can frame this in a way that encourages customer buy-in without detracting from their trust in you.
Examples of comparison articles
- Which social media platform should I use for my business?
- Ask Nicely vs Review Tui - what's the difference?
- Blogging vs Content Marketing – what’s the difference?
Just like with comparisons, customers like to know they’re buying the best possible version of a product. That’s why marketing content that outlines the best of a certain product is a great option for assignment selling. No matter what industry you are in, your customers are looking for the best fit for them, so all you need to do here is reassure them.
The blog content can be specific to a certain location, target market or style so that anyone looking for the best version of that specific product is more likely to find your website.
It doesn’t always mean you’re targeting every customer within your industry, but rather the customers who are most likely to buy from you because they are a great fit for your brand. This situation is a win-win because both you and the customer find your ideal match, and can be confident it is based on shared values and expectations.
Examples of ‘best of’ articles:
- What is the best tool for customer satisfaction surveys?
- Top 10 customer feedback management platforms
With a flood of advertising content reaching customers, reviews are a great way for them to distinguish the good from the bad. People tend to trust other customers’ reviews and an online review can influence up to 67.7% of purchasing decisions, which makes it well worth spending the time to create your own review content.
In this case, we don’t mean reviews like star ratings or forum comments, but rather a full summary of a product or service, written out in an accessible, objective way. Using a blog is an excellent way to do this as it can present all the benefits and drawbacks of a given product or brand in one location, and can also link to other useful blog marketing.
Picture this, a prospective customer is searching for a “review of X product”. Now think about what information might come up for that search, is it likely to convince them to buy from you? If not, you should be producing your own blog content for that search to be part of the conversation and generate positive sales leads.
Examples of review articles:
- An Honest Review of HubSpot Video
- Squarespace Review: Is It Right for Your Business Website?
- Review: What Are the Real Limitations of HubSpot Marketing Pro?
How to get started with assignment selling
For assignment selling, a good place to start is with a collaborative strategy session including your sales team, marketing team and senior management.
In these sessions, you should list all the commonly asked questions about your brand and what customers are most interested to know. This conversation needs to include the customer service team because they deal with customers directly, and the marketing team because they’ll create the content.
It’s a good idea to start with the most asked question so that you can link back to it in future content, and build authority as you go. This way, as your marketing team continues to produce more and more content, your customers will have a wealth of information to find.
You should also use an SEO strategy throughout your content to ensure you get higher clickthrough rates and increase traffic to your website.
Within a few months of implementing an assignment selling strategy, your brand will build authority and become a trusted voice within your industry. Your customers will respect you and be more loyal to your brand, and you’ll have much better rates of return on your content overall.
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