Scrap the Hard Sell
by Ray Jutkins
Choice. There is more of it then ever before. And
your customer knows it.
Every day they are bombarded with multiple ways to spend their money. In
30 days your customer receives more messages than their grandparents got in
a lifetime. Lots and lots of "choice".
How do you market and sell in this environment? To a highly educated
Well, I have a theory ... you don't! Instead you "ask" people to buy from
Most people do not like to be sold ... these same people sure do like to
buy. So, you ask them to buy - to do it now - from you.
Here are 9 simple traits for successful marketing and sales
programs. Ideas on how to get more than your fair share in the decade ahead.
Trait #1. Ego, Strength & Drive = Confidence
This is not arrogance. It IS knowing your product, your service and being
comfortable with your presentation.
It is knowing your competition, and being even more comfortable with
comparison. It is a healthy self-esteem ... knowing you know what you offer.
I.e., know your business. Know your people. And know there are no
commodity products or services. Every product is different from every other
... even those where there is 1:1 head-to-head competition.
How is this so? Very simple; if there is truly no other difference, YOU
make a difference. People make a difference. When anyone says "we have a
commodity product" what they are really saying is "I don't know how to
sell". Just as there is no "box" that keeps you in, there is no "commodity"
to stop you.
To be successful in this decade a strong sense of ego, a show of strength
and an expression of drive will be necessary. You might call it confidence.
Trait #2. An Honest "Sense of Urgency"
Neglect is the #1 killer of sales. When marketing does its' job sales
must pick up the banner and march forward. With an "I'll get it done now"
attitude. An honest sense of urgency. Anything less than a full charge will
leave money on the table.
Let's face it, if you don't do it someone else will. There is always
someone out there hungry enough to be chasing you - no matter your level of
success. They may be getting nothing but crumbs from you now ... until you
Fire in your belly and a spark in our eye is what it takes day after day
to stay ahead of the chase. And to let your prospects and customers know you
care. That you do see their "sense of urgency".
Oh, and this sense must come across in both your marketing and
Trait #3. A Healthy "Sense of Skepticism"
The baby boomers, in their peak earning and activity years, are skeptical
of almost every marketing and sales offer. This group exhibits a high level
of suspicion and a low level of trust.
And since this is the audience for most every product and service ( they
have money, time and understand needs ), this trait must be recognized.
What do you do about it? How do you overcome? The sales process can be
successful with every audience when you do 2 things;
... ask questions, listen and then
... present a thorough sales message response.
I.e., talk only after understanding where your prospect is coming
from, and where they are going. As it is not what you have to sell ... it is
very much what your prospect needs to buy.
Trait #4. AFTO based on Knowledge
The "Information Age" is no longer. We are now in The Knowledge Era.
It is not who you know - it is what you know.
Sure, people are still the important ingredient in every marketing and
sales program. Provided we in marketing and sales know what people need. And
how to fulfill those needs. That is knowledge.
Francis Bacon gets credit for the thought "Knowledge is Power". Well,
just as the information age is dead - knowledge is NOT power ... unless you
know what to do with it. Having a library of knowledge and access to more is
useless, unless you put your knowledge to work. Unless you use what you
Part of using what you know is another sales axiom ... AFTO ... Ask
For The Order. The marketplace expects you to do so.
although soft sell vs. hard is the name of the game, do not fear reaching
out and boldly AFTO.
Trait #5. Think on Your Seat
Sales reps are told to "think on your feet". Before they can they must
first think on their seat. i.e., get ready!
A couple of ideas from the past will be helpful in the decade ahead. The
first is "Marketing by Objectives". i.e., have a goal, a focus, a direction.
Know where you've been, where you are now, and where you are going.
Another is "Ready - Aim - Fire". The "fire" part of this threesome is
popular. Getting ready first and then aiming is not.
Which is where Think on Your Seat comes in. Schedule a time to
think, to plan, to organize - to get ready. To learn the true needs of your
marketplace. Your audience will appreciate your efforts. And you will enjoy
Trait #6. Innovate. Dare. Be "Creative"
Two processes are needed to drive you to max success in the next decade;
1). clearly identify the needs of your marketplace, and then
2). create "new" ideas and thoughts - becoming truly innovative for your
Change is a tough topic for many. You may need to dig deep to find a
level of discontent within your buyers and prospects. Some level of
dissatisfaction is there - dare to learn all you can. i.e., be willing to
take a risk to learn what you need to do to satisfy - to fulfill the need.
You cannot be a successful marketer without being directly involved with
sales. At the same time sales reps can no longer be just order takers. They
cannot wait for the buyer to buy. These facts lead to marketing and sales
working "Two-Gether". Side by side. With like objectives. To present an
answer the buyer buys.
Know you are operating without boundaries. You can dare to be innovative
- to be creative. Do it.
Trait #7. Marketing & Sales on the Fly
There is a major difference between "must have" and "nice to have".
Between the cake and the frosting.
"Must have" products and services are easily converted to needs. And thus
to sales. The customer makes the transfer without effort. Marketing has done
the job. Sales closes. The prospect understands your offer and makes a
"Nice to have" is tougher. Prospects haven't been convinced the
features and benefits you offer will bring great gain. Which is where
" ... on the Fly" comes in.
Because the world today acts like everything is a must 24/7, "... on
the Fly" becomes a way of life. Complex products require unique
presentations. Fast. "New" products require thorough explanations and maybe
more. Demonstrations. Trials. All very quickly.
Whether you are 1:1 with the prospect, or reaching them with direct mail,
in print, broadcast, at a trade show or through the web, case studies,
testimonials and references will play a role like never before.
You need to be prepared to do it all " ... on the Fly".
Trait #8. Social Expression is "In"
Through the depression of the 1930s, WWII and the '50s family and social
were one. People had a need to be together. What happened at work carried
back to family. And vice-versa.
That came to an end in the '60s. It's back. And will continue to play a
major role in marketing and sales over the coming decade. A mix of what
happens at the office is carried over to what the family does.
Being the good "Girl Scout" and "Boy Scout", kind, courtesy, brave,
cheerful, friendly, outgoing, interesting - all with a smile! - is very much
"in". Hard sell is out.
Trait #9. True Empathy is "In"
The ability to walk a mile in anothers shoes is an American Indian
Idea being you'll really understand when you do. And not
understand much until you do.
Understanding customers needs is a strong beginning of empathy. Yet, true
empathy is more. It is reaching out and touching, being a teddy bear, a
security blanket - and "making love to the customer". It is letting the
customer know you care.
True empathy is "in". Without it your customer will have no reason to
hang around with you. They'll most like walk away.
The end. That's it. Scrap the Hard Sell is a philosophy foreign to
many. Yet, when you get it for both your marketing programs and sales
efforts you'll be a winner - in the next decade.
About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one
of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the
NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of
many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ...
including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the
Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of
Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of
Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.