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The Hardest Thing in Sales and Marketing
August 12, 2011

The Hardest Thing in Sales and Marketing

The hardest thing in sales and marketing is becoming self aware in order to control the impression you are giving others.


What this statement means is that we are most often not aware of what others are thinking of us, and this includes customers. Have you ever worked on a marketing campaign that you just knew would be a hit which instead turned into a dud? How about a new product or sales pitch that fell completely flat despite all the work you put into it and all of the high hopes surrounding it? It gets to a point where you cannot help thinking that sales and marketing is just a matter of luck as much as anything else and I am here to tell you that this is a big mistake!

Sales and marketing is just like any other scientific endeavor which can be broken down and measured in terms of individual components. What I mean by this is that something, somewhere in your marketing campaign is turning your customers off. Something about your product or positioning or pitch seems well and good to you but just does not square with the rest of the market. The fact is that it is really easy to get carried away with your own internal hype and end up becoming unrealistic about your product or service and your sales and marketing message. There is a reason things are not working, you just have to look for it!

If you break your sales and marketing process down into individual pieces, you can study and analyze each one and, as well, tweak individual components in order to find out what works and what does not. Don't give up; as long as you are passionate about what you are doing, you can find a way to make it succeed. The worst thing to do is try a few things out and then give up. Rather, keep going, keep changing little things here and there and keep on getting excited, even if you end up having to "fail" your way forward! Here are some more pointers tied into the idea of becoming self-aware in order to alter perceptions:

(i) Be the customer

One of the hardest things to do is put yourself in your customer's shoes and think about what their response to your sales and marketing message is going to be. This is what being self-aware is all about, understanding what image you are portraying to others. For some reason, most people are super sensitive when it comes to analyzing themselves from the perspective of others but this is the key to what makes for successful sales and marketing. Stop and think: what if I was my customer? What would I think about this message?

(ii) Ask the customer

Right up there with being the customer is asking the customer and others for candid feedback about your product, service or sales and marketing message. Once again, this is sometimes hard to do and the reason is that we generally avoid criticism. If you think about it, however, how are you going to learn from your mistakes if you are not willing to face them in the first place? By asking others for their opinion and creating an environment where you can receive honest feedback, you are taking definite steps in this direction.

(iii) Be conservative

If something seems "risque" or "out there", then maybe it is best left alone. What I mean are those ideas - or even the style or tone of your message - that might be a bit too extreme for your average everyday customers. What might seem like a very funny or outrageous sales and marketing idea can have the opposite effect to what you were hoping for and end up turning a lot of people off. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to start small and build your way up one step at a time by "testing the waters" and working on being bold over time!

(iv) Keep revisiting

Have you ever written something and then cringed when you read it again (like an email note sent at 3 in the morning?!)? This cringing is good for you and is what I want you to focus on from now on. That cringing is you coming face to face with the real impression you are giving others; while it seems fine at the time, when you revisit your message later you think, how could I have said that?? Keep revisiting your sales and marketing message until you no longer feel that cringing. Make sure that it is solid and feels "right". Then go for it!

(v) Build on success

The path to success is one small step at a time and so keep working and taking those small steps. Most people - myself included! - would love to jump straight to the top of the stairway of success but unfortunately, that is not the way sales and marketing - or life! - is designed. You cannot bypass 2,3 and 4 in order to get from 1 to 5. Therefore, the best thing you can do is focus on the next step and do it really well. Learn, and then move on. I am all for doing big things but remember that the biggest things start off very small.

Learn how to see yourself with the casual, objective eye of an outsider in order to success in creating effective sales and marketing messages!


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