21 Mar The inner salesperson inside every marketer
Sean Stryker was my guest on episode #048 of the Trench Talk Podcast, you can listen or watch here. As Sean has chosen NOT to build an online presence and there’s virtually no public information on him available, he sent me this article he authored for those looking for a little more-
Although the thought of another pesky salesperson banging on your door may leave you feeling hounded, as a marketer you have more in common with them than you may think. Sean Stryker explains. Enjoy…
The inner salesperson inside every marketer
Someone recently asked me in an advertising sales training workshop what I thought the definition of sales was. My answer was as follows: “Sales is simply reducing someone’s pain and maximising their pleasure”. After some quizzical looks from the trainees, we got talking about who then can be considered ‘salespeople’?
After some lengthy brainstorming, we came up with a whole host of examples including the local shopkeeper, parents, teachers, doctors, police, lawyers, door-to-door salespeople, real estate agents, the local butcher and even the local mechanic. But one occupation stood out for me among all of them and that was the marketing manager. Yes, that’s right, the one person who sits and listens (most of the time) to hundreds of salespeople attempting to convince them that their product is better than any others, was now being labelled a ‘salesperson’ in their own right.
In my time as a salesperson and sales manager, I have sold to dozens of marketing managers and directors. Truth be known, I loved all of them. Ninety-seven percent were polite, interested, more than happy to answer my questions and willing to take my calls weeks and even months later. The other three percent were the exact opposite and these were the people by whom I was most fascinated. Why? Because as they spent much of the time kicking me all over the park for being the equivalent of pond scum, they used the remainder of the time to tell me how hard their job was ‘selling’ their ideas to their wives, husbands, friends, colleagues, bosses and even the board of directors.
Did they see the irony here? Probably not, but it was wonderful nevertheless to see that what they were going through, we all go through on a daily basis as we attempt to ‘sell’ our ideas, strategies, products and services.
So, how does a marketing professional sell? Believe me, it’s no different to the way good salespeople sell to them. Here are some of my thoughts as to how selling can be done intelligently and professionally…
THE PURPOSE PHASE
Any marketing person needs to do their research before pitching their ideas. This is crucial if they are to defi ne and refi ne their strategy before unleashing to those key stakeholders within their company. High level salespeople go for the ‘pre-emptive strike’ to ensure that no stone is left unturned before they meet a client and discuss their company. It’s no different to what we should do with our internal clients.
This phase also involves articulating a clear intent or purpose as to why they have called the meeting and what they hope to achieve from the discussion. I shudder to think how many marketing managers have told me that they often never really know what the reason is for a salesperson visiting them. Make sure that when you sit in front of that director, you know why you are there and he or she knows what your intention is from the start.
THE LEARNING PHASE
To me, this is the most complex and difficult phase to master. Why? Because it involves asking questions, plenty of them and with the purpose of finding someone’s challenge or challenges. Marketing people should always ask questions of their colleagues before creating the message, not to mention asking questions of those selling them the medium by which to carry the message. Sales is never just about the presentation. How could you ever present a proposal to both internal and external clients without first understanding their problems? Doctors don’t prescribe medicine to patients if they don’t know what’s wrong with them. So why should you, the marketing guru, be any different? It’s all about discovery and uncovering what your colleagues really want from you, as opposed to you assuming what they want. Believe me, there is nothing worse than finding out you are way off the mark when pitching an idea to someone.
THE COMMITMENT PHASE
So, you have discovered the challenge. Now you must develop the solution via the product you have on offer. Any of us ‘solution sellers’ know there must be a fi t between the problem and potential solution. It’s nothing short of suicidal to go into a meeting with decisionmakers if you deliver the wrong answer to a challenge. I once sold to a marketing manager who soon after lost their job. Several weeks later and over several dozen beers, the manager told me it didn’t help matters when she presented to her director my advertising medium as a potential solution to what she believed to be the problem. It wasn’t that she hadn’t asked the right questions pre-pitch, it’s just that my product was all wrong for what her boss was wishing to achieve.
The commitment phase includes the actual presentation. After years and years of presenting, I have come to the conclusion that while it is integral to the sale, it is way too overrated. Keep it punchy, keep it simple; show them the features and, better still, articulate the benefits. I know it’s old-fashioned but it’s true to this day that if you can’t match features with benefits, you are dead. Those listening to you will buy in if you show value. It’s that simple and that complex.
THE SERVICE PHASE
How many times do we win a sale and then fail to provide a premium level of service after the fact? Whether we are in marketing, real estate, telecommunications, advertising or any other industry, are we servicing up to both our clients and stakeholders inside and outside the company? Probably not as much as we should, I think. If you have successfully sold your strategy to your direct report, how about thanking him or her for their time, following up with an email, call or even a face to face chat as to its progress? It’s amazing how many times clients tell me in my role as a sales trainer how many salespeople fail to display care and concern after the deal is done.
OK, so there you have it… not rocket science, is it? I think it’s just plain and simple common sense, but I wonder how many of us in solution-selling roles (yes, that includes all marketing professionals) really reflect on our style of selling and what, if any, theoretical framework we apply to our day-to-day dealings with those who can say ‘yes’ to our worthwhile propositions?
Don’t get me wrong, this all requires plenty of practice and risk taking, and rest assured you won’t always come out the victor. As I sit here, however, and negotiate with my young son about whether we go outside or not, it does make me think we are all salespeople trying to do nothing more than simply maximise pleasure and minimise pain.