By Robert Pease, Pipeline Performance Practice Lead for Heinz Marketing

I have long believed that “being generous” with your time, connections, and advice can create amazing new relationships and opportunities. This, of course, requires prioritizing how you spend that time and avoiding countless “networking” meetings that are all one sided – meaning someone wants something from you.

When I do spend time meeting new people, helping former colleagues, or sharing thoughts and experiences with others, I always like to end the discussion with “how can I be helpful?” This is a great discipline to get into even if you are the one requesting a meeting with someone else. Bring something to the discussion and put yourself forward to be helpful. It means a great deal to the other person.  Venture capitalist and all around great guy Brad Feld wrote a post with this same title several years ago and fellow venture capitalist and great guy Mark Suster took his own spin on it with a similarly titled one as well – so at least I feel like I am in good company thinking this way.

This same discipline can be applied to sales development, which all too often focuses around assertive and abrupt “gets” – time on the calendar for a call, agreeing to a demonstration, or a reply of interest. All of these things require your prospect to act on your behalf and you have done nothing to be helpful.

I believe a give, give, give, get approach to sales development is the best way to do it. Force yourself (and your sales and marketing teams) to provide something to your prospects that they can use even if they never schedule a call or take a demonstration.

It is not a high bar. If you truly know your ideal customer profile and the issues they are facing, you should have plenty of insight and perspective that will be valuable to them. If you do not, then time to revisit your overall positioning, messaging, and content strategy.

It’s OK to make these gives relevant to you and even make your product or service the natural conclusion to be drawn about what to do about the challenge or issue….but let the prospect come to that conclusion.

Take a look at your outreach copy (emails, phone scripts) and supporting content and ask yourself if you are giving before you get – or better yet, let us take a look from an outside perspective. Approaching a completely cold contact with an immediate “get” on your part is off-putting and inefficient and we see it more often than not.

Remember, give before you get in your professional endeavors and make it a core theme of your sales and marketing efforts.