Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The lost art of selling

We had it pretty sweet. We all did. We were living in a wonderful age where there was no recession and advertising budgets were (relatively) good. While I was in London last year New Zealand had its third consecutive negative quarter. When I got home, we were officially in a recession.

Having been in this media game only a couple of years, I get the impression that this changed the client/supplier relationship. In a big way. For so many years reps and sales people were simply taking orders. Demand was high and very rarely did they have to work their arses off for a sale (granted, sometimes we put a few people through their paces, but on the whole...). So we get into a recession, and suddenly sales are not being handed out on a plate. That's right, it is time to learn how to SELL things again.

The reason that I am talking about all this is because
  1. I question the selling abilities of some people in NZ
  2. I had the most curious of conversations with my sister yesterday.
My sister is the Marketing Manager of a commercial cable company in London called Eland Cables. She has been with Eland for many years and hooked me up with some work there while I was visiting. The work that she has done to boost online generated sales for the company is brilliant. Her work in website optimization makes me jealous, and she is a talented designer to boot. There are specific areas of the Eland site which have her name written all over them in the way that they have been executed. Take for example the contacts - hopefully you have a decent connection - and how when you scroll over the people they smile at you. Awesome!

At any rate, she told me today that she is going to start training in sales, to work with the sales team. The marketing manager, working in sales. Curious. But it got me thinking, we are an ever-revolving collection of sales people. Reps sell to agencies; agencies sell to clients (although it would seem TVNZ don't think this); and clients sell to boards/stakeholders/Ministers. We all have someone that we answer to, and if each connection of that chain isn't selling as hard as possible, then no one is going to make a sale.

What's my point? I think a number of industries have forgotten how to sell, and while I initially thought it a bad thing that a marketing manager was getting sales training, I think that the benefit of a marketing manager understanding and hearing her clients needs/demands first hand is incredibly very valuable in the long run.

On the other hand - I really want my sister to come back to NZ. Anyone know of any fabulous jobs for a very talented young lady who has done amazing things in London? Online/website marketing specialist positions available perhaps? If it is any consolation we are very different and after working with me for only 2 weeks her boss said to me "I'm glad that I got the easier Wales sister".

Let me know.

Updated: A note to any sales people out there. PLEASE do not make a meeting with me to present something you presented to me 4 or so months prior. In addition to this, please do not comment on other mediums which you obviously know nothing about. When you get it wrong you look like an idiot and I lose all respect for you and what you are selling.

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