NOVEMBER 10, 1973.
Marketing is the link between ideas and results.
Marketing can take many forms – it can be direct if you are a salesman or it can be indirect if you are a Technical Counsellor or part of a Softwarehouse Implementation Team. Even if you are not in day-today contact with customers or prospective clients, you still spend a good part of your time selling your ideas to management, your associates, your friends, and even your family.
Marketing is one of the most fascinating forms of human interface because it is the process in which all things get started and nothing can go beyond this point unless the marketing of the idea is successful.
In our case, nothing productive can happen until you, in your marketing capacity, close the sale. Here is really the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship between SDL and the new client.
Looked at from a corporate viewpoint, the close of a sale is the most important single event in the day-to-day life of SDL.
Naturally, this is followed closely by a sound program of performance for the client which, in fact, also forms part of the on-going Marketing effort. But the start must be that exciting moment, when you have outlined all the reasons why a client should proceed and the client signs the order.
THE REAL SECRET OF SELLING
We have all read a number of books, I am sure, that outline the twenty-seven things necessary to become a successful salesman, or the eleven key ways to locate the prospect’s ‘hot button’ but, like a book by Ben Hogan with 300 pages telling you how to improve your golf swing, most of these weighty volumes try to tell too much.
In fact, the secret of good salesmanship is very simple. the principle you can learn in moments and the practice of this principle will improve your success in intra-personal relationships, whether in selling directly, dealing with clients, or simply getting along with others. The cardinal rule is not complex, it is not even new, it is, however, fundamental.
The secret of success in selling is to put yourself in the place of the customer and look at the situation from the point of view of his desires.
This is not unlike the Golden Rule which, as you are aware, finds its way into almost every major system of philosophy and is expressed in nearly every major religious writing. What this really means is being very sensitive to the necessity of establishing an empathy with the customer and learning to understand not just what he says he needs, but rather what he really desires.
At SDL, we have a high quality and rapidly-expanding range of services but I suspect that all too often, we try to sell these services rather than finding out what the client really wants, expressed or unexpressed, and then helping him to achieve those desires.
It has often been said that no one really sells, people buy.
Listen to a good sales pitch by a door-to-door salesman. Inevitably, that salesman will have a carefully thought-through approach to try to relate his product to universal desires
that people have. The client will rarely express these very basic desires because this may be embarrassing. It may be an admission that, in fact, the individual is not really interested only in the good of the nation or other lofty ideals, although this could be a real desire of the person. More often, the real motivators are increased wealth, faster advancement on the job, more leisure, more power, increased security
As not every client has the same set of desires, it is very important to try to determine the most important real factor that will relate your service to your prospective client’s primary desire. It is this process that is really the backbone of creative marketing.
Think positively about how to relate your services to the things that will make the client feel comfortable Ask yourself what results we can produce that will help that client attain his needs if the client is concerned about increasing his own wealth, then try to find out how you can help his company improve its profitability. If he is worried about the expenditure needed to create the systems to allow him to become more efficient, then try to suggest ways in which he can spread the payments for development costs which may allow him to get the benefits that will allow his company or department to look better while spreading the cost so that he can fit this into this year’s budget a faster advancement is really the hidden desire of your prospect? Then, try to think of ways in which you can help him look good to his superior by ensuring that the credit for suggesting and completing the successful project goes to your client and your client understands in advance that this is the way you are going to handle the situation if more leisure is what the prospect is looking for, emphasize the ways you can make his job easier by taking over some of the responsibility for onerous tasks if more power is the client’s real desire, then de-emphasize the fact that we are taking over the management of his application and, instead, play up the reports he will get that will help him manage his area with more precision and the fact that he will get more time to grow his power if he does not have to worry about the day-to-day details of a particular application if security is what concerns your more timid prospect, emphasize the fact that we can take over the responsibility for much of what he does and guarantee that the results will be satisfactory. Be sure to ‘reference sell’ both subtly and directly with this kind of client. All of this should be done subtly, of course, for a direct acknowledgement of what you are trying to do is not the way to develop an empathy with the user.
If you plan your sales approach in advance, having first determined what you really believe the client wants, then you can introduce in many examples, references, or even in casual conversation, the kinds of things you believe will really get your prospect working with you rather than against you.
THE FIRST STEP
Obviously, the first step is to learn as much as possible about your prospective client. This involves learning to listen well. It is also necessary to be observant and gently probe in your conversation for things that will help you read your prospect better. For example, look around his office – if he has pictures of his family, then you might conclude that he is the type who will value his weekends and evenings at home. This would encourage you to stress things involving easing his workload. If his office is on the ‘plush’ side with several works of art gathered around, you could probably reasonably assume that this person is ‘money oriented.’ If, on the other hand, the office is less plush but tends to be filled with books on management, how to run organizational meetings, etc., it might be a fair first assumption that the individual is a company man who is scrambling to get to the top!
If you want some practice in this art, think of what your own office reveals about you. If you want some fun, come into my office some day and I think you will start to get a fair idea of what motivates me. The office is relatively austere, with the same old furniture I have had since we started the company over 51/2 years ago. However, around the walls and on the credenzas, you will see things relating to being Chairman of the United Way, being recently elected a Member of the Young Presidents Organization, being President of the Computer Society of Canada, etc. This would probably indicate to you that I tend to be ‘success’ motivated. I am sure others have noticed this because I often get asked to serve on voluntary Boards or help with other outside activities, and I am amused myself at how successful some people are in encouraging me to do this and how dismally others misread the situation! For example, if I were asked to help out with a Day Care Centre for Children 5 and Under in Nepean Township, I would immediately be thinking of ways to turn that down! If, on the other hand, I were asked to become the International President of the Universal Society for the Social Advancement of Youth, I would immediately be in the mood to accept – despite the fact that the only project of this organization was a Day Care Centre for Under 5-Year-Olds in Nepean Township!
All this is just a question of being sensitive to the things that really motivate people and being creative in packaging your product or service to flatter that desire.
This principle of looking at things from the other person’s point of view is not only a great one when it comes to selling, it is about the best that I know of for living.
In SDL, we have had a fine track record of converting doubting prospects into satisfied and loyal customers. I know that, if we keep on practicing this Golden Rule of Marketing, both your success and ours together will be assured.
Good Luck and Good Selling!