OK, so we have our brilliant new product and we have set up the company and now all we need is customers. Ah, you say, we step into marketing. Excellent! An ad in the Yellow Pages, and another one in the newspapers and then of course a fantastic website with moving images and capable of being read by all sorts of browsers.
You are well on your way and you feel good as you have spent lots of money. But you have missed the key point – sales. It seems we often get confused between marketing and sales. Now the books will tell you selling is everything you do to close the sale and get a signed contract. Marketing is done to generate the interest.
The trouble for smaller companies is that the two are very linked and that sales becomes your marketing. For smaller companies it is about sales and less about marketing. I always tell people to use the Jehovah’s Witness approach (no offence intended to anyone and this is based on a true story).
Many years ago I had a fellow director of a company who was in fact a Jehovah’s Witness. It is a religion and a way of life which I always stayed well clear of, but this colleague and I spent a lot of time together developing the company and we talked about his beliefs. He never tried to convert me (and I confess he would never have been successful) but I did develop a much better understanding and even appreciation of some of the things he believed in.
We were talking about the irritating habit of his fellow worshippers to show up on my doorstep with their kids behind them trying to have a word with me. No matter what the answer was they always seemed to come back and they do the same in every country I have every lived in – and that is several. They are the most persistent salespeople I have ever known, but as I told my friend, their marketing ‘needed reviewing’. His answer was that they were actually not marketing or selling – now that in my humble opinion is ‘in need of review’ also, but so be it.
If I could develop a sales team with the drive and persistence of these people, I could slash marketing budgets to nil. Most sales people want to spend loads of money on marketing – new brochures, more advertising, lots of expensive sign writing on vans, new logos, whatever. But at the end of the day they need to get off their rear ends, and knock on doors – I would advise to leave the kids at home though.
Every sales person and every entrepreneur should be out there knocking on doors of potential customers every day – 5 calls a day keeps the administrator away. And the best customers? Your existing ones. Make sure they believe in you and your faith – I mean product.