Sales is tough and if a man is gonna make it he gotta be rough

In marketing you do your research, brainstorm around the findings, plan your campaign and execute it as best as you can. Most of the time it will pay off, sometimes it doesn’t; that’s the risk you take.

Sales on the other hand has to return above ROI. A salesman who doesn’t return more than his salary and expenses in new customers costs the company more than he is bringing in, and won’t last long past his honeymoon period.

When times are good being a salesman is great, but when times are bad it sucks.

To avoid reducing a product to price competition in tough times, salesmen with good products need to remember their raison d’être:

Imagine you are a machine gun salesman and the client you are approaching is a General who doesn’t have the time or inclination to talk to you, learn about what you are selling or listen to what you have to say, but who is about to go into battle with a sword.

If you were the machine gun salesman, how would you let the General know that he needs your product and the benefits it provides in the few seconds you have before he dismisses you? Work out this line for your own product and I bet you it will have nothing to do with price and everything to do with the benefits that the product can bring to a customer.

If the General would have taken a few minutes to size the gun up and check out its features, I bet he would have bought a couple and blasted his competition away.

A good product doesn’t get sold on price it gets sold on the benefits and features it can bring to a customer.

3 thoughts on “Sales is tough and if a man is gonna make it he gotta be rough

  1. Well said.
    Yep its sad when I see a good product fail due to poor sales technique. I think a premium is there to be made on products that provide more features than its competitors.

    But just remember that price can be a feature and a benefit.
    If you can keep the price down, and include almost all the other features of the competitors you might just beat them to the punch line of the big sales.
    To use your machine gun analogy, Mikhail Kalashnikov would have something to say about price being a key component to sales.

  2. I think your concluding statement might be a little too general. I agree it largely fits the example of the sword-weilding-no-time-to-waste general, but if said general already knew he needed a machine gun then it’s a different story. The general will perhaps invite a number of machine gun suppliers to show him their wares. Perhaps the general, being the military man he is, will still be all about features and benefits, because he is aware that performance on the battlefield trumps $, but in my experience the more common analogy would see the general (or his accountants) hiring a consultant that may or may not know much about the various machine guns out there, and will end up buying the cheapest one (or choosing from the cheapest two) that fits a specification they have thrown together. In this scenario, there is somewhere between little and none at all opportunity to bring features and benefits as the underlying criteria will come down to price.

    1. Hi chris! Thanks for your thoughts, I agree that a company which is going about the purchase decision like you illustrated, will only seek benefits of price, provided there are no stand out brands on the table. However, this isn’t always to the detriment of the company with the product which wins on benefits, for two reasons: 1) I think that when you are talking about complex or critical products that people don’t understand, this comes down to education. They don’t yet know enough about the product to know that yours is the one they need. Let your competitors teach them this. 2) these customers will probably be the ones which take up 80% of your time for 20% of your profits, (if!) your product truly is worth more than competing on price, the benefits will always win first time with those that matter, as they are the proactive, informed and the kind of customer looking for more than just a price relationship. So back to the machine gun analogy: if you can’t get the right general at the right time to listen and understand the benefits of your product to him, and your don’t have a well understood brand (a visual representation of benefits) to transcend price competition, don’t feel bad if the cheapies chose the shitty products over yours (if yours is truly superior). Of course some markets compete directly on price all the time. What happens in these markets? People have to differentiate by benefit (or brand) or go bust.

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