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Sales and Marketing Mistakes

When it comes to sales and marketing, you can do it right or you can do it wrong.

I saw an incredible demonstration yesterday on how to do it right.

Let me explain. Yesterday my wife and I went to Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. The show was “George Gershwin Alone.” It was a one man show about the music and lyrics by the brothers George and Ira Gershwin.

It was based on the book written by Hershey Felder who also happened to be the star of the show. What a terrific performance.

Usually at the end of a show there are curtain calls, depending on how good the show is.

When the show ended Hershey came out to a standing ovation. But this was different. After a short minute or two he waved at the audience to take our seats and we did.

He asked the audience to call out George Gershwin song titles for him to play and sing. Then he proceeded to sing some songs and had fun with the audience.

So when he finishes this routine he says the Theatre asked him for his help.

He said in one week he would be doing another limited engagement show, “Maestro – The Art Of Leonard Bernstein.” He told us he wanted us to go to the Box Office right after the show and buy tickets because we would save 20% because we were at today’s show.

Well of course I was the second one in line to buy these tickets.

He said the Theatre asked for even more help. He agreed. He told us he brought just 200 copies of his soon to be released NEW CD and he would donate all the proceeds to the Theatre. He said he would also be happy to autograph the CDs.

After I bought the tickets to his next show I also bought his new CD for $50.

Look, Hershey gave an amazing performance and then proceeded to demonstrate the art of salesmanship.

He gave us a call to action. He told us where to go to buy the tickets today.

He gave us an incentive for buying today – save 20%.

He created a sense of urgency with his CDs by saying the supply was limited and he only had 200 copies.

He added more value by offering to autograph the CDs.

I go to a show to be entertained and I was. I also had the opportunity to see a brilliant display of salesmanship.

Let me put this into a business perspective for you.

Some of the biggest sales and marketing mistakes I see people and companies making include the following:

Selling on price. Why sell on price when you can sell on value? I believe the word discount should be eliminated from all marketing and advertising materials.

The word discount should be replaced with the words value and incentives. And whenever possible your value should be quantified in dollars. If you can’t quantify your value don’t expect your sales prospects and customers to be able to see it.

Selling features instead of selling benefits. This is a huge mistake marketers make. Salespeople also do the same thing and are always talking about features instead of focusing on the product’s benefits.

Let’s take a windshield wiper blade for example. These blades are made of rubber plain and simple. Yes they cling to the windshield and remove rain, sleet, and snow from your windshield.

But what’s the benefit for your customer? Well, the benefit for a senior citizen who has to drive down a mountain to buy groceries and go to church during a winter storm is peace of mind and safety because the windshield wiper blades enable your customer to see clearly and drive safely.

No sense of urgency. Tell your sales prospects and customers that your supply of wiper blades is limited, just like Hershey did. In fact tell them how many you have in stock and they need to hurry in because they’ll be all gone in a few days.

No call to action. This one is a no-brainer. Do what you can to make it easier for your customers to buy. Bernadette, my wife, goes ballistic when she sees an article or an advertisement for a product she’s interested in and there’s no contact information.

Be sure to include a person’s name, an address, a phone number, store hours, and a website if your product can be ordered on line.

Tell people to visit your store today to get a special bonus product with every purchase.

Make it easy for your customers to do business with you and they’ll keep coming back.

And always say, “Thank you for your business,” enthusiastically!

And I must say thank you to Hershey for his 2 brilliant and memorable performances.

High and Low Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing is all about alternating between high-level strategy and low-level detail.

Successful sales and marketing is about creating relationships. Be prepared for the ups and the downs, the goods and the bads, the sales and the rejections. The way to alleviate most any obstacle in the process is by switching from high level to low level and vice versa. When a customer gets caught up in a specific detail, change the focus of the discussion to the big picture. The converse is true as well.

Think about the last time you decided to purchase something. What was your thought process? Did you find it easy to decide or was your evaluation of each alternative a long and laborious process? In some cases we buy something because we just know it is what we are looking for. More generally our thinking follows the following steps which you should recognize and navigate with your potential buyers.

At each step, alternate from the big picture to zooming in to the smallest of details:

1. Need: The first question your buyer will ask themselves once you have attracted their interest is: does this product or service solve a need of mine? High-level needs include lifestyle needs such as looking good to others and making oneself more successful at one’s job. Low-level needs are the day-to-day technical challenges that your buyers face which you are trying to help them with

2. Requirements: With a need in mind that your buyer is looking to address, they will then draw up a set of requirements of how that need can be solved. Your goal should be to match your product or service to these requirements in your communications to potential buyers. Remember that features do not mean anything unless you connect them with high and low-level requirements

3. Evaluation: Once your buyer has drawn up a set of high and low-level requirements they will begin to compare your product or service against the ideal solution they have in mind. At this critical juncture you must remember to communicate both the high-level and low-level benefits of your product or service and help the customer visualize how your solution best services their needs on all fronts

4. Negotiation: It is only at this point that price can be considered a serious component of the sales and marketing discussion. Whether or not the previous steps happen in minutes, days or weeks, it is only after going through that thought process that your prospect qualifies themselves as a serious buyer. In negotiating with them you can now position price as an investment for high and low-level value

5. Purchase: In today’s economy it is especially important that the sales and marketing process does not end with a purchase or low-level transaction. You must nurture the high-level view of creating lifetime buyers by excelling in customer experience, post-sales service and staying in touch with buyers to communicate offers and the value that they are continuing to receive from their business with you

By following this advice you will begin to create a flexible mindset and so will your customers. If you receive a return or complaint then see it as a temporary setback and service the customer well. The high-level strategy behind doing so will enable you to foster healthy relationships and build long-term success. Each step of the process as well as your overall business can benefit from this approach.

If you get stuck at the high level, drill down to the tactical day-to-day details to find relief. “The price is too high? Well just think about how much time you are going to save.” The same is true the other way around. “You think the product is too complex? Well, let me assure you that the learning curve with our customers is only a week or so. What is more, the benefits will last forever.” Back and forth and back again…

Be a dive-bomber seller and marketer by zeroing in and then swooping out again.

Bridging the Gap to the Close Through Inbound Sales and Marketing

The process of sales and marketing is not new to us. It has always been there and traditional methods have been handled to tackle sales processes, especially inbound sales. The inbound sales representatives were never clear on their roles and in turn business was lost.

It is of utmost importance for your inbound sales representatives/agents to understand their roles and have knowledge about the company’s products and services. It means the agents must be able to manage the conversation with the client by understanding his needs and giving satisfying answers.

The following tips will help inbound sales agents and representatives to improve their inbound sales and achieve customer satisfaction.

  • Give agents a calling process – This means train your agent to answer the call politely and greet well. An automated response creates a gap and should be avoided. The response must show that the agent is listening to what the caller is saying. The next step would be to offer a solution in such a way that the customer believes in it and gets hooked up. This would also be the time to offer promotions and discounts. Thus starts your inbound sales process
  • Say Please – This is where your manners should ‘kick in’. Make sure you are using the word please and thank you in your conversation. It gives a personal touch and has an edge over automated responses
  • Blend telling and asking – A great conversationalist knows how to ask questions and give answers at the same time without irking the customer. This strategy is called the question/answer pair technique. For e.g. I would like to fill out your billing address. Could you please provide one?
  • Pronounce the name correctly – If you are doing business with American customers, you know pronouncing their names can be tough. You don’t want to offend a customer by pronouncing his name wrong. Try your best to pronounce the name correctly and immediately confirm by asking Did I spell that correctly? Another tip would be to listen when the client pronounces his name
  • Adjectives boost your inbound sales – Train your agents to use nice language. It does not mean throwing in jargon or using flowery language. It means practicing sentences that exactly describe your product by using adjectives which will engage the customer
  • Don’t be too pushy – A lot of orders get lost simply because the inbound sales agent was too pushy. If you pressurize the customer to buy your product instead of creating interest, the call is bound to get stopped sooner than later. It has to be a gradual process wherein you create interest and explain the value of the product
  • Be prepared to overcome objections – The use of word ‘but’ can send your efforts down the drain. Even if the customer says No to your product, don’t get discouraged and get into the ‘rebuttal’ mode. Instead empathize. Try to put a positive note in your question and ask if there was a specific concern that the customer had regarding the product


Inbound sales are fast becoming a backbone of today’s business world. If you work on your call handling skills, you are sure to have a happy customer. Needless to say, it is important that your sales agents take care of your customers who want to place an order from you. Pay attention and Listen up!