Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How about never, does never work for you?

(Editor's note: By inserting the image of this upstanding gentleman, my paragraph spacing got tasered. It's a bug with the software. It's a good read but the paragraphs are huddled together like plane crash victims waiting for Search and Rescue).
The dreaded Sales Technique.

If you're in your in your thirties or beyond, you've probably been exposed to books and training whose purpose was to impart the wisdom of various sales techniques. Essentially they are methods of manipulation in an attempt to trap or get a prospective buyer in a position they may otherwise resist. The example below is parody but this is what buyers typically associate with strangers trying to solicit their business...even in the year 2008.

Salesperson: Hey..listen, just so happens, I'll be in your neck of the woods Tuesday and Thursday.
Prospective Buyer: Who is this?
Salesperson: ABSOLUTELY!
Prospective Buyer: What are you trying to sell me? Who is this?
Salesperson: I ABSOLUTELY hear you on that!...are mornings better for you?
The marketing part of any sales position is definitely a contact sport. If things eventually align correctly, you don't want to be calling strangers asking them for their time and money. They hate it, you hate it. But in the short run, you may not be so lucky. You will likely have to reach out to someone who isn't expecting your call or correspondence. In almost all cases, they will be engaged in something else and you will be an interruption. Put yourself in their shoes. Don't be an idiot.
Be concise. Give them an out. If they give you the floor, don't talk about how freakin' incredible your products are. Don't ask them "what keeps you up at night". Telemarketers keep them up at night. That milk carton's expiration date of a phrase is six weeks old. Buyers are sick of it.
Ask them if they have any business problems that, potentially, your company can solve. Most important, work on the rapport part without being a phony. It isn't easy and if you're incapable of the nascent building blocks of building rapport with a complete stranger, you might be in the wrong business. (Doesn't make you a bad person. Very few can pull this off. It's very difficult.)
Bottom line: There are plenty of companies that can solve their business problem, several might already be on their rolodex.
But if you've gotten this far, you're in the game.
Again, if given the opportunity, try to have a conversation. The rest (e.g. next actions, their buying process, drilling down a little, etc..) should come as a natural part of the conversation and not be forced.
Pretend you are they, chaos is in full session and, for whatever reason, you decided to pick up the ringing telephone.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Kim Jong IL, Inc.

The next time I'm on a company's website and they use the language "the leading"... as in Strategic Cyber Paradigm Shift Solutions, the leading Enterprise Application Integration company, today announced it will be entering a strategic partnership with Win Win Solutions.

Says Strategic Cyber Paradigm Shift Solutions (SCPSS) CEO, Tucker Buffington, "Being a dynamic, customer-centric, client-focused global leader means, among other things, we hope the value-add created synergies will clearly exhibit our penchant for entering utterly meaningless partnerships, issuing inane press releases and using the word strategic as frequently as possible-including but not limited to- all written descriptions of our senior management's trips to the restroom"

Where was I again? (not to worry- I'll tie this in to that little menace Kim Jong IL in a moment)

Oh yeah, the insistence of companies in describing themselves as "the leading" no matter who they are, what they do or, perhaps the most patently absurd-if indeed they are the "leading" anything.

I casually glance at the text of hundreds of business websites a month. It’s riveting stuff, really. They basically all say the same thing. And that thing is “we are an un-freakin’ believable company..”!! Read what random people are saying on our website!! We’re the leading company in our space!! We might even be the leading company in Outer Space! You say IBM is in that space? We’ll take their lunch money and issue a press release about a strategic partnership we just formed with IBM’s lunch money!

North Korea’s state media has stated several times that Kim Jong Il is an avid golfer and routinely nails three or four holes-in-one per round. That just one of several dozen whoppers that they feed their incredibly oppressed people.

Here’s where I'm going with this.

There’s a marketing guy named Perry Marshall whose writing I enjoy. Several months ago he stated that the promotional materials that typically emanates from totalitarian states-past and present- hardly differs in bombast from the promotional materials/drivel marketing departments of U.S. Corporations churn out every day. I had been thinking this for years but he beat me to the punch.

I understand an organization wants and needs to present themselves in a most favorable manner to their customers, potential customers and the investment community. One can tell a very nice narrative of an organizations history as well as their present and future directives without sounding like some cement-head from The World Wrestling Federation.

Can we just, for openers, put an immediate moratorium on the usage of the adjective phrase “the leading”?

Any study of the truly great people who’ve walked among us and before us reveals they didn’t spend a helluva lot of time wordsmithing their press releases.