Now I know there is a large difference between 'marketing' and 'selling', but to effect a sale most times involves that one rely on all the marketing one can get! For the confused, 'marketing' is the bringing of the client to the product (making the prospective client aware of the product), and 'selling' is the bringing of the product to the client (making it available for the client to buy). To some, the line between them is both very thin and very hazy to say the least and is, many times, done by the same staff.
I am, however, continually surprised at how sales teams are not interested in new and diverse marketing opportunities. In a shaky economic climate, one would think that any chance to bring a product into the limelight would be seized with both hands. Not so! It appears the very people who have been tasked with a part or all of the sales process are totally adverse to exchanging their product for income. You scoff!? Read on and then decide.
These particular web pages are a platform for good ideas (I see you nodding your head in agreement) with a concentrated focus in two e-books written, one on Radio Telemetry and one on Power Quality (sorry, I know, old news!). In each of these books, products are featured. So, how did they get there? Ah, you think I just decided, as do a few newsgroups, to write them because of my love for the product. Let me take this opportunity to bring you up to speed.
These books exists because of my love for the subject, not the products. When I first started writing the book on Radio Telemetry, I only had one company jump at the opportunity to feature their product. Other makers shunned the idea. Now, funny thing, this company have just yielded the highest growth amongst all the radio telemetry products in the UK!
On the power quality front things are not that different. One of the major companies featured were bought by a world-renowned test instrument crowd. They used every method of putting their instrument in the arena for all the world to see, and as a result were bought because they had the best technology available. All the available instruments were considered. Only one made the grade.
So when an opportunity arises for the not-so-fortunate to level the playing field a little, do you think they responded? Not on your life! OK, agreed, I am a little guy with a little website offering to advertise a product at no cost to the product supplier concerned, except I keep the product featured (obviously at no cost to me). You may think this is a little 'forward' of me to expect people to find this attractive - do bear in mind that an economical PQ meter would set you back about £2000, and a top end about £20000. So let's put this in perspective.
Do you know what a good salesperson costs? Firstly, he is not going to be content with anything less than a fantastic salary, a sporty motor vehicle, an endless cellphone contract, and, to top it all, someone to do all his donkey work for him (yes, another salary!). I know of many and each costs about £150 000 a year. Even companies are surprised by this figure! Just ask the accountant to add up all the money thrown at a salesperson (including exhibitions claimed to bring the sales!), but have a stiff drink before you do!
Right, so here I am asking for a sample of the product. Yes, such a sample also comes with the proviso that I am allowed to throw the book at it to ensure it stands up to the purported specifications. But what have I asked for? A mere 10% of a salesperson's costs, and that figure reduces considerably once we go "down market". And yet, they spend millions on advertising in the feint hope that the "right guy" will be reading 'that' mag in the said month they advertise. Don't get me wrong, I am not against advertising, but surely it is economically prudent to spread the advertising as far as possible? I know that the advertising I offer is, in effect, not 'free' as they are dispensing with a product at no cost and therefore no income. But surely this is just a tiny drop in their advertising budget's bucket?
You think it just happens on the upper levels of the scale? Think again. About 3 months before penning this article, I wrote a technical article on an RS232 sniffer probe. I could not believe the website stats in just a few short weeks. This particular search string hit the number one spot two months in a row! With such evidence one would, quite rightly, think that there would be a market for RS232 monitoring and logging software. Armed with this info I approached a number of houses of such software.
The result has been even more staggering than the PQ guys. Not one has even responded to a simple request for a free licence in exchange for mentioning their product in the said article. Ok, some packages are a whopping $500 per licence (have these guys gone nuts!), but this same phenomena occurred with packages right down to the $50 mark.
Here's a conversation topic for a boring dinner party; The economic downturn is as a result of a shortage of trade. This is known fact. But is it not all these sales teams who are the ultimate cause of this downturn as a direct result of their resistance to selling which gives rise to a shortage of income? It sure is cause for thought! I don't think I have made friends with any sales folk out there. But if the shoe fits, wear it together with starting to change your attitude before the boss decides to employ people who want to exchange product for income.
What is not so blatant is this resistance to selling has untold ramifications in the engineering fraternity. If you haven't guessed it by now, I have become an independent fault investigation and analysis consultant. The whole success is attributed to my being totally focused on getting a product to work the way my client desired. And I'm not shy to kick butt where required (just ask the poor tech support guys who have come across me!).
On the very rare occasion I have not managed to get a totally unsuited product to do what it should, and therefore need to replace it, I am unable to suggest anything simply because no-one else wants to sell theirs! Everyone seems to be in to "selling solutions". Yet I don't need a solution, thanks, I've already located the problem. I just need someone to sell me a product, without any fuss. But then again, in this instance, I'm just a customer. And what do I know!?
Thank goodness for a high success rate in my cases without the need to replace the installed product! As someone once wrote, "You really can't imagine how tough it must be to run a Sales Prevention Programme, can you?"
The fact that sales teams are resisting selling has simply confirmed "common sense" is anything but common, and that "tightening belts" is, in effect, economic stupidity. Fixing these faults, unfortunately, I have to admit defeat!
© 05.01.04 / 29.03.05