My partners and I attended a SAGE software conference in Washington, D.C. last week. There, I had the pleasure of attending a marketing “SuperSession” conducted by Duct Tape Marketing founder, John Jantsch. A double pleasure because a marketing mentor of mine, Dawn Westerberg, also attended and we had a chance to visit and trade notes.
I’ll confess I wasn’t too keen on attending this particular session. My lack of interest had more to do with the dirty secret I’m about to reveal and my years of experience with marketing in general than either John Jantsch or the subject matter. I knew of John Jantsch and his Duct Tape Marketing approach and respect them both. Lucky for me it was the only session that remotely interested me during the time slot, else I might have missed it.
Since I’m confessing (and you’re still reading), allow me a much bigger confession (and the real reason why you may benefit from reading on):
The Dirty Little Secret
I have secretly hated sales and marketing for more than forty years. I still suppress a look of disdain or suspicion whenever anyone confesses to me they’re in sales or marketing.
There. I finally said it out loud.
I’ve hated both sales and marketing with a burning passion, in spite of the fact that I met my incredible wife in a sales and marketing fraternity in 1975 and have been involved in sales and marketing up to my nose ever since. I’ve hated them in spite of the fact I work hard to make the lion’s share of my living coaching and working with small business and large businesses to improve results from their:
- business planning and execution
- customer relationship management (CRM) tools and processes
- call centers
- data warehousing and data management
- DotNetNuke websites
- sales force automation
- SalesLogix software
- time and priority management
The Paradigm Dilemma
At the risk of watering down the intensity of my emotion and for the sake of clarification – I don’t so much hate sales and marketing as I love the golden rule.
Until John revealed the beliefs underlying his approach to marketing and some of the new tools and techniques he’s been experimenting with, much about sales and marketing made me feel like I had to ignore the golden rule to be a successful salesperson and marketer. It’s seemed interruptive and manipulative. And for most of my adult life, I’ve struggled to make myself do marketing. The advent of selling for a living has actually made me physically sick when I seriously considered it. Even when I clearly identify my ideal candidate, understand their wants and needs, create strategic and tactical marketing plans, reduced selected techniques into a calendar, justify to myself that I’m offering a tremendous gift, write an unsolicited anything and put my foot down on the gas (marketing execution), I always have one foot on the brake – a sure way to achieve less than mediocre results.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a simple guy. I love the truth, and I love the golden rule. I’m goal-oriented and purpose driven. I make plans and work them. People tell me I know how to get more done in less time than anyone they’ve ever met. If true, it’s because I work hard to focus and remain focused until I finish what I start. Because I so value the golden rule, I find it incredibly difficult to treat anyone in a way I don’t like being treated myself. Because sales and marketing results SEEMED to REQUIRE me to step outside myself and be what I consider interruptive, pushy and disingenuous, I’ve had a real self-limiting dilemma: I am who I am, won’t be someone I’m not, yet realize every successful business MUST DO marketing and sales.
Arghh!!! Internal Conflict! Go? Stop? Change? Be Consistent? Arghh again!!
Blessedly, I realized some time ago that I don’t hate EVERYTHING about sales and marketing. Just:
- Anything sales or marketing might do to/for me that I wouldn’t do to/for myself or others
- Bloated promises
- Disrespect for the value of your (or my) time
- Disrespect for native intelligence (again – yours or mine)
- People who pretend to like you until they find out you have no money or aren’t a buyer
- Talking to someone when they clearly don’t want (or have time) to listen
- Talking more than listening
- Taking permission before its given
- Useless complexity
As I’m checking my spelling, just saying I hate these things seems an understatement. They REALLY tick me off! To me, interruptions are all nuisances unless I make myself see them as potential opportunities. Generally, I completely ignore uninvited interruptions altogether. I open my mail over a recycle bin outside my office. I screen 100% of unsolicited calls, circulars, emails, letters, messages, post cards, text messages, warnings, etc. I mute commercials, accept communications ONLY from people I know AND want to hear from, and took enough self-defense to reflexively discourage people who tap me on the shoulder from behind. If you doubt this and don’t know me, try calling me sometime or sending me an email or a post card, or a cleverly disguised advertisement made to look like a dun letter from the IRS – See if you connect. Lie to me and see if I ever forget (I said forget; not forgive). Do any of the other stuff to me and see what, if anything good, it gets you.
Interestingly, as I’ve forced myself to experiment with the interruptive marketing tools in my roles as business owner, dad, entrepreneur, friend, investor, sales and marketing process consultant I’ve learned that most people share most, if not all of my hate list. And yet – (I’m told) these are things one must do to succeed with sales and marketing.
What I was expecting from Mr. Jantsch was at least SOME if not much more of the outbound, interruptive, sometimes less than 100% truthful stuff that often accompanies sales and marketing that I detest.
What a pleasant surprise. John shared nothing but good stuff. Stuff I can use to market and sell more WITHOUT FORSAKING the person I am and want to be!
Let me begin by saying that what I liked most about John Jantsch before I met him was his ability to reduce the complexity of marketing processes and systems into his seven, extremely simple, common sense, understandable categories. They are:
Every marketing tool or tactic I’m aware of clearly fits into one or more of these categories. I don’t want to steal his thunder here, so I won’t elaborate. I do want to encourage you to look hard at John’s marketing materials and how-to whether you’re a beginner or an experienced marketer.
On to what I learned. Again, without stealing John’s thunder – I saw the “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” side to Mr. Jantsch that isn’t at all obvious in any of his materials I worked with to date. OK, that’s not fair to John. The “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” things are there. I just didn’t see them. He’s reached a marketing mastery level where he’s so good at explaining things and speaking plainly- his work “seems” casual. No, it’s insightful, visionary and well written.
Somewhere during the tools and techniques, new buzzwords and marketing knowhow John shared during this four-hour session, I had an epiphany. I saw the very real possibility of doing improved marketing and sales at greatly reduced costs WITHOUT ANY OF THE STUFF I HATE! As a golden-rule minded, serial entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how much this excites me.
With the ubiquitous internet, emerging B2B social networking tools, unrepentant buyer behavior that literally thumbs its nose at any of the sales and marketing techniques that I (and all my good friends and customers) hate, marketing and sales may now become what I and many others have wanted them to be all along. In fact, it is now possible for me (and you) to be exactly who we are, genuine and candid about it (without giving away the farm), find, qualify, convince and sell new prospects simply by being straightforward and real.
When our good friend and sales Vice President died, I secretly doubted we’d be able to stay in business as neither me nor any of my partners are good at the requisite prospecting, interrupting, qualifying, persuading (or manipulating) it sometimes seemed necessary to be a really good sales person. In sales parlance, Ed was a great hunter; all the rest of us are farmers. We’re all good closers and break our necks to take care of customers because we like honest people and just tell the truth to the best of our ability. People who like honest and candid want to do business with us. People who don’t, run away – and that’s OK with us.
I came away from John Jantsch’s presentation relieved and excited. I’m now convinced we’ll not only do well in our business with this new sales and marketing paradigm, I suspect we may even excel – Even without our friend and salesperson. Perhaps even more exciting for the altruist in me – Anyone who’ll take the time to embrace what some are calling the “inbound only” marketing approach may excel in sales and marketing.
I could (and will if anyone’s interested) write more on this new way of marketing. Let me know if you’re interested.