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complex than they appear to be on the surface, especially in sales and marketing.
For example, consider Frank, the proprietor of a neighborhood saloon. Frank wants to sell more drinks. He figures more single men would patronize his establishment if there were more single women there.
How to make that happen? Simple. Offer half-priced drinks to women on “Lady’s Night.” Problem solved, right?
No. His business continues to languish.
Why? Frank has not done his homework. Had he actually gotten to know a few more of his potential women customers, he might have been able to ask them about this. He might have learned some important things.
For instance, most young women are not interested in half-priced drinks. What are they REALLY interested in?
Duh. They are interested in meeting young, good looking, and single men. Smart saloon proprietors know the half-priced drink ruse is merely a convenient excuse. It enables the women to appear interested in something other than the men.
So, Frank was working on the wrong part of the problem. He thought the problem was getting more women into the saloon. He thought a direct approach would work. Counterintuitively, a far better solution is indirect, and unadvertised. That approach is to hire exceptionally attractive young men to work in the saloon. As bartenders, perhaps. And servers. Then, the half-priced drinks on lady’s night can work its magic. Over time, word of the increased presence of the females in the establishment, gets around, and attracts plenty of additional single men.
Sales problems are often tricky. Executives might believe their salespeople can’t close, when the real issue is in lead generation or qualification. Executives think salespeople are lazy, preferring to service existing accounts instead of finding new ones. It may sometimes be true. However, as I wrote about in Sales Process Excellence, it can also be true that the company’s customer service is not robust enough to prevent customer problems from happening, forcing salespeople to have to stay involved.
It can be tricky to understand the real cause of the sales problems you are trying to solve. People do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. The causes can be internal or they can be external.
One thing is for sure. If a sales process solves problems for your prospects, they will follow it. If customers follow it, salespeople will follow it. Failing to learn the causes and effects involved is one of the primary reasons companies fail again and again at sales and marketing.
What are some surprising, counterintuitive sales problems you have seen in your business?
For more information, consider “How to Diagnose What is Going Right – and Wrong – in Your Sales Production System”