While content marketing has been a trendy buzzword for more than half a decade, there are still plenty of organizations who just can’t quite wrap their brains around the idea of giving away useful information in order to build a relationship with their customers. The struggle is understandable. How can you sell stuff if you aren’t, ya know, selling?

Anyone who’s been in a sales or marketing capacity for more than a decade – in other words, the people likely setting the strategy – grew up in business believing that to achieve success you needed to push harder than the competition. But now, that’s wrong. The new buyer’s journey is social, self-directed, trust-based and transparent. In other words, you have to offer up your thinking for free, and trust your customers to eventually reward you by buying your product or service.

To win, you have to embrace the contradiction: the best way to sell is to stop selling.

As a parent, the best way to help your children grow into the best people they can be is to simultaneously hold them closely and give them freedom. If you’re a parent, you know this can be terrifying – what if they fall down? What if they make a mistake? What if they fall in with the wrong crowd?  Of course, if you’re too hands off, odds are they’re going to head down the wrong path. But then again, if you never let them out of your sight, they’re not going to be able to function as adults.The same goes for the new world of marketing – you can’t be a Helicopter Marketer.

If you hover over prospects and customers, they’ll get annoyed, and they’ll leave. They can buy from anywhere in the world, you’re being a pain, and so they’re going to move on to the next option if you are so insistent.

But then again, your CEO and VP of Sales want you to close the deal now. So, if you stand back and let the customer make a decision on her own timeline, your bosses will go ballistic. And if you do what they say and don’t give the customer breathing room, she’ll likely disappear and you will lose the customer.

Either way, you lose.

What you have to do is convince the higher ups in your organization that customer behavior has changed, and that the hard sell no longer works. You need to show them that embracing the contradiction will work, that backing off the hard sell will ultimately lead to more revenue.

You have to trust the customer, and you have to trust that the information you’re providing will draw the customer closer. You have to have confidence that your approach to content marketing will work. You have to embrace the contradiction: the best way to sell is to not sell.

The best way to sell is to help your prospects. If you provide value, they’ll return the favor.A content marketing mindset requires understanding that the best way to sell is to back off those pushy sales messages and allow the prospect to educate herself at her own pace. After all, that’s what she’s going to do anyway. If you’re all up in the prospect’s business, she’ll shut you down and move onto your competitor.In other words, the best way to sell is to stop selling so hard.