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The Duality of Sales and Marketing
May 19, 2012

The Duality of Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing is about finding your own middle ground between an infinite number of axioms consisting of paired opposites or extremes!


If you didn't quite get my opening statement, not to worry; what I want to talk about is a rather profound bit of sales and marketing wisdom that is not always easy to explain but is neverthless easy to understand, once you think about it. This is one of those ground rules in business that is simple to grasp and yet can affect how you think about almost anything you do. The concept of duality as I mean it is simply to say that there is not one but two equally correct ways of doing anything; what is more is that these two approahes are the opposite extremes of a spectrum that includes all possibilities in between.

If what I am saying doesn't make sense or seems illogical, let me explain it through some groundbreaking examples that illustrate how opposite - and even contradictory! - principles can simultaneously hold true in sales and marketing. What matters is your own specific situation and temparament in deciding how you want to proceed. As you read over these examples, all that I have been saying should fall into place and you will also feel a tremendous sense of liberating relief. The reason for this is that you will realize - if you have not already! - that a lot of your self-limiting beliefs and priniples about business and even life in general are not the "hard and fast" rules you may have been taking them to be.

Loud or Quiet Sales and Marketing?

Think about McDonald's famous "golden arches" and then think about the other end of the scale, those high end luxury products that most people have not heard of that are not advertised anywhere but still attract a substantial following. Canada Goose jackets are a great example of the latter; intrigued by the fact that I see so many of them here in Toronto, I started asking people I saw wearing them and found out that they cost a pricey $700 or so and are filled with real goose down which makes them super warm. What was very peculiar is the fact that no one I spoke to could tell me specifically where they had heard about them from!

Which of the two sales and marketimg strategies do you employ, quiet or loud? I am sure that the answer lies somewhere in between the in-your-face McDonald's approach and the behind-the-scenes approach of Canada Goose. Is it simply a matter of low value, day-to-day commodity items needing a more promotional approach in order to differentiate yourself? I don't think so, because luxury brands like Mercedes have been big advertisers for years, while you will not see most supermarket grocery items heavily advertised, for example. The point is that you have two diametrically opposed and yet equally valid aproaches, depending on your circumstances.

Scripted or Unscripted Sales and Marketing?

I saw yet another sales author yesterday, whose latest book advocates, among other things, ditching sales scripts. While this is a pertinent question in the world of sales, in marketing this is less so. What is your website messaging, brochures, whitepapers and other customer-facing communication but scripts, after all? I personally think it very important to have an integrated marketing communications strategy where you are saying the very same thing in the very same way regardless of what medium or channel you are communicating with your customer using. In fact, my own approach is to create marketing messaging that is exactly what one of your salespeople would say (and in the same personable tone!).

Going back to sales, most everyone knows that following a script by rote without feeling is bad and makes you sound too "salesy" and impersonal. On the other hand, wouldn't you say that no script is a recipe for failure too? At the very least, you need to know how you are going to open and close a conversation, even if you do not script out qualification and objection handling word for word. If you just call someone up or visit someone with no goal in mind, how are you going to get anything done? To me, scripts are like training wheels which you keep on until you can internalize the shape and form of the conversations you will need to have with your customers.

Friendly or Formal Sales and Marketing?

For the longest time, I believed the axiom that people buy from people that they like. What this means, of course, is that you need to like your customer as well, as these things are reciprocal. What I found over the years is something that a sales coach I very much admire pointed out in his sales newsletter: people actually buy from people that they respect! Just think about it and you will realize that most people - probably yourself included! - would much rather do business with someone who knows what they are talking about and what they are doing, as opposed to someone who is just plain nice. As long as you are honest and your customer can trust you, it does not really matter whether or not they actually like you as a person. On the other hand, the question of whether or not you should make an extra effort to be friendly or whether your manner should be more businesslike, is still a sales and marketing philosophical dilemma.

Marketing, just like sales, can be either friendly or formal. I use the term "marketing personality" to describe the overall personality of your business based on your marketing communications strategy and whether you use, say, a "friendly neighbour" approach as opposed to having your website messaging and other marketing be more serious. As you can see, each approach works for different situations and your own situation, personality and mood becomes the deciding factor in what you should say and do in terms of your own sales and marketing approach. I hope you appreciate how powerful the concept of duality is and how it extends to pretty much every aspect of your business and even life, quite frankly.

Don't get stuck in a sales and marketing rut but use the Law of Duality to gravitate to and explore new territory in both directions of a given spectrum!


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