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Inverse Sales and Marketing
September 30, 2011

Inverse Sales and Marketing

Inverse sales and marketing is about using the 180 degree perspective and turning your disadvantages into advantages.


Over the course of over a decade of working in sales and marketing for startups to Fortune 500 companies like Oracle and Computer Associates, I discovered a Golden Rule which is that you can turn any objection into a reason to buy. Similarly, this principle can be extended to any aspect of your business – or life! – inasmuch as realizing that every challenge contains not only its own solution but opportunity for you and your business. This is similar to the saying, "every adversity contains the seeds of a greater or equal reward."

In sales, whatever objection a customer gives you in order to forestall a sale can quickly be turned around by using the statement, "That is exactly why you should buy!" You don’t even have to think about it, that is how universal this rule is. The more you use this approach, the better your mind will become at reverse-engineering a given customer objection in order to come up with a reason to buy. For example, "if you don’t have the money to buy, that is exactly why you need to plan for the future which includes investing in products and services that will help you free up cash by saving you money." Or, "if your board has not given you approval, why is it that you are not allowed to pursue those projects that you know are good for your business?" Of course, you can only show your customer the path and they need the will to follow themselves!

In marketing, inverse sales and marketing applies to positioning and your go-to-marketing messaging. These areas are where you seek to differentiate yourself and create a positive perception of your product(s), service(s) and overall business. Remember that any disadvantage or negative stereotype can just as easily become an advantage through the use of this approach. For example, if you are seen as a small company relative to the big players in your industry, that is all the more reason that you are more responsive than the other guys. If you are a relative newcomer, all that means is that you will work harder in order to keep your customers happy. You will always be able to find a strength in your weakness, a "silver lining in the cloud, so to speak, as long as you look for it!

Sales and marketing is ultimately about manipulating customer perception through messaging. Study what your customer’s reaction to your messaging is, and if this reaction takes on a negative tone, make sure you incorporate the appropriate inverse sales and marketing message in order to defuse concerns. This pre-emptive approach can be used in marketing and also in sales if you run into the same common customer objections. After engaging your customer in your sales process, you can use this technique at each step of the way to overcome any and all objections. No matter what your customer says as an obstacle to a sale, simply hear them out and then figure out how to use what they are telling you for you. Remember the adage that if you listen - and think! -, your customer will tell you everything you need in order to win their business.

Inverse sales and marketing requires time, patience, intelligence and creativity in order to apply but it is not rocket science and once you get used to this kind of thinking, it will become easy for you. The good news is that this approach is the ultimate leveler which means that no matter what situation you are in vis a vis your market, the competition or a given customer, you can apply inverse sales and marketing leverage to sticking points in order to facilitate your messaging and positioning and strengthen your position. In today’s day and age, most customers know that it is not the biggest or oldest company that will give them the best product and service, not by far. Rather, customers are aware that smaller businesses have what it takes to serve their needs and that very often, a smaller business can provide the kind of unique and personalized value that more established companies simply cannot.

Look for areas of friction in your sales and marketing machine and oil the wheels through inverse thinking to turn problems into solutions!


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