Book review: They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan 


With a core value of, “learn, grow & apply”, the Incrementa team gathers for a quarterly book review. The team’s made up of avid readers so the decision to read a shared book four times per year, then discuss opinions and knowledge nuggets from each is a natural fit.

Here’s how it works. Each of the four of team members selects a book that’s relevant to our clients and our team, no matter our area of specialty. We read the book as a group, then explore at the end of the quarter and decide how we’re going to apply it.

We started 2019 with They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan and here’s what we think you’ll find valuable.

They Ask, You Answer book summary & review

Sheridan’s book is one of the most interesting books that I’ve read on marketing for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In it, Sheridan describes how his swimming pool company nearly tanked in 2008-it lost $250,000 in one weekend. The book goes on to explain how Sheridan was not only able to save his business, but how he grew it into one of the largest pool installation companies in the United States.

How’d he do it? By completely overhauling his company’s approach to content marketing and inbound sales strategies.

Sheridan took what he knew about search engine optimization (SEO) and reverse engineered his blog content strategy. He’d answer the swimming pool question being asked in Google by writing organically keyword rich, useful information.

His blog content strategy covered all types of queries, including the 5 key areas that companies often ignore:

  • Price & cost
  • Problems and what can go wrong
  • Product comparison versus competitors
  • What customers think
  • Best competitors

Sheridan argues that companies avoid answering the types of questions above for invalid reasons such as a concern over what competitors might do with the information. Fact is, your competitors already know about you. You can’t hide.

Over time, his company became seen as a trusted and reliable source of information. As a result, they gained the customer confidence and became the preferred swimming pool installation company. One blog post alone can be traced to $3 million in sales.

The central message of the book is that the modern day consumer doesn’t want to deal with a sales person. They want to interact with an honest individual-someone who will provide them with all the necessary data, answer questions and help them make an informed decision.

The choice is yours, but Sheridan strongly suggests that you aim to be seen as an authoritative educator, not another advertisement.

The book is over 200 pages, admittedly longer than it needs to be, but is broken down into easily digestible sections, that can be dipped in and out effortlessly.

Any small business that is struggling to gain traction and be noticed will benefit from reading this book.

How we’re applying it

At our recent event SMarketing, the team spoke about how sales and marketing need to become more closely aligned, something that They Ask, You Answer covered in detail. We’ve also introduced a number of the book’s key concepts when working with clients on their overall marketing strategies.

Values alignment

They Ask, You Answer aligned with Incrementa’s values in a notable way.

Operate as a family with compassion and unconditional support.

The idea of creating content to educate provides the buyer an improved opportunity to make an informed decision-one that is truly in their best interest. Providing content that informs without expecting anything in return is representative of unconditional support.

Always offer value, not just with paying clients.

By teaching people, we offer value as based on the Triangle of Influence. A traditional mind-set is closed and focuses on a company centric approach. When the mind is open, focused on customers and education, we pay no mind to competition.

When we remove the competition struggle, we allow customers that are not a right fit (usually only driven by price) to naturally remove themselves, helping them and helping us get closer to our ideal customer. Our ideal customer will value the information offered and appreciate it. The value add also helps move them closer to becoming a customer.

Humble, hungry & smart. Remove ego so it won’t limit growth.

By providing value added content that is customer-centric not company-centric we follow the Triangle of Influence and sharply focus on our ideal customer. This does not allow for an ego, in fact, it is the exact opposite of ego and supports being humble, hungry and smart.

Learn, grow & apply. Don’t just absorb information. Amplify performance by teaching and applying.

Assignment selling is directly aligned with our commitment to learn, grow & apply. By teaching customers, the how-to of our practices we must be open to continuous learning and growing ourselves. And we must also show the application. In assignment selling, the examples show that the highest close rate was from those who watched the informational videos and prequalified themselves by following the instructions given prior to the initial sales call. The qualifying information was assigned to them making the buying journey easier for the customer.

Like what you read? Keep up with Incrementa on LinkedIn and subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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