- Close a deal in style.
- Close a deal in style.
Companies focus a great deal of their efforts in specmanship. This means which product has the best specifications (specs). Could be an hour more battery life on a new phone? Maybe faster? How much time do we spend on what matters most to the users? There has been a huge shift in sales processes to be more solution type salesperson. Marketing efforts have tried to follow suit to frame products around solutions. Solution type selling and marketing is very helpful and I have in my career tried to sell this way as part of my arsenal of tools. However, this is not all that common and countless companies still push only who has the best features and technology.
I recently read an article in Inc. Magazine, “A Chat With the Master” by Jason Fried who is the co-founder of 37signals. I usually read his articles every month. In this particular article Fried discussed his meeting with Clayton Christensen who wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma.
What resonated with me in this article was the discussion around standard marketing practices. Christensen quotes a famous Harvard marketing professor who argues “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.” Consumers are less interested in the drill than the hole. I mean seriously where is all this expensive higher education going? You would think $100K to get an MBA and you would understand how to market a product. No disrespect to all the MBAs out there (including myself). I see this often in marketing and sales where features and technology are highly touted. More in line with “If you build it, they will come” type mentality. Fried proposes questions to whether we focus too much on which drill is “drillier” than the other. I agree with Fried on this major point in marketing and sales. Actually it is damn frustrating when you are in a company when the marketing department people do not know what is good marketing.
I believe in engaging in discussions with my customers of what they do on a daily basis and what I can do to support them. If you make Iphone cases for example, have you considered how people use their phones and how your case fits that usage? Or do you just want to make a case that covers the Iphone? Simple concept, right? How is your company marketing and selling your products? If sales are lagging and marketing is lame, make a change. Change the discussion and playing field.
In the end, your product may not have the best features in all aspects which then leaves you vulnerable to a competitor. To combat a spec war and stay above the noise, I always recommend be an insightful partner to your customers. They will appreciate insight and solutions more and you’ll be in a different position than your competitor who will be peddling a datasheet. Don’t be a peddler. Be an insightful bad ass.
During my MBA studies I took a business strategy class that helped change my perception of business and how I make decisions. The class focused on developing a strategic business mindset when building and running an organization. The key takeaway was successful companies and individuals are good if not great at strategy. They focus on making strategic moves to build a strong core for sustainable growth. For me this was an eye opener and resulted in me focusing my studies on strategy. This blog and consulting work is a continuation of my passion to share how important strategy is to any size company and any individual.
What does this have to do with sales? I remember vividly a discussion I had with a marketing person at a previous company. We were having a random discussion regarding the sales team. The conversion boiled down a phrase from this marketing person I will never forget. This person told me they were “not in sales”. Granted this person was a terrible marketer but it hit me. Marketing is in sales and should be very concerned about what sales people do. In fact, everyone in the company should be concerned about sales and the sales group. Through a few discussions Everybody Is In Sales LLC was born. I hope to share in this blog ideas, facts, opinions, and anything else that might help you think different about strategy and sales.
I hope I can change the perception some may have that sales is synonymous with sleazy. It is far from it. I’ll also try to keep the rants and rambling to a minimum. No promises.