Monday, August 30, 2004

Hearts and Minds contd.

This doesn't have that much to do with selling, but
So this week, while you are making your sales calls or managing your team, don't forget that Croot and thousands of great salespeople are out there selling a product that will keep our nation and our families safe. Let's say a prayer that Croot and his company meet their sales quote soon and return home safely to the biggest sales awards ceremony this company has ever seen. Oh . . . and Croot . . tell your buddies we are forever grateful for your sacifice. We will never forget them. - p.39

Now back to the "thoughts".

In sales we've been using the war metaphor for a long time. I was always sort of uncomfortable with "targeting the market," "being in the trenches" and "destroying the competition." It just didn't fit what I saw as the most effective selling. Thanks to the article I realized that the problem is not the war metaphor, it's the conventional meanings I put into "waging war." Major Croot's description from hard won experience changes everything.
"I expected a hard-nosed conversation about objectives, overcoming the enemy, never giving up and fighting to the end. Instead, I heard words like caring, listening, loving, helping showing and giving." p 35
Now that sounds alot like the selling process that I've seen work.

Another thought. It sounds like the Major doing the daily work on the ground, might "get it" better then the suits in Washington. In the context of this article, suits can be seen as Top Management. That might have some parallels in the world of the print business.

And now the minor quibble. Brian says that "It is difficult to force anybody into anything." I would say that it is for all practical purposes impossible. If you are not selling what your customer wants or needs, it's not going to happen. If your product is not what they want, find a customer who does or redesign the product. In the 21st century there is no third alternative.


  1. The problem is that my company only sells certain kinds of products. But I have customers that I've been working with for a long time. They already know all the products we sell, but I want to sell them more stuff.

    Any advice?

  2. Dear annonymous-

    Consider Gutenberg. He brought together the technologies for movable type. He may have tried to sell the tech, sort of like trying to sell VDP (after all he did die bankrupt). But his financier's son in law had a better idea. He know that in Paris there was already a significant business in hand written bibles and lecture notes at the Sorbonne.

    So... he picked himself up and traveled from someplace in what was to become Germany to Paris. Not an easy task in the late 15th century.

    But he followed the "If your product is not what they want, find a customer who does." (They didn't want printed Bibles. They wanted a better, faster, cheaper way to get Bibles. They had no interest in how they were produced.

    So. . .what can your company do faster, better and cheaper than anyone else?

    One printer I know in NYC has a sweetspot for ultra fast 4c 14 by 20 posters in small quantities. (This printer happens to have an Igen 3.)

    So, his sales force might be hunting for groups of people who need that. For example, college clubs or teams. Or anyone who has events. Or community organizations. Or a government agency. Or (you fill in the blanks.)

    The trick is seeing that the printed piece is NOT a defensible product. But unique combinations of the production capabilites of your plant might be. I have no doubt that with a little thought, they can be combined to create unique offerings that are better,faster cheaper than the other guy.

    Now if you tell me that your plant does not have any unique capabilities, I know that you're wrong. But that's a longer story and needs a lot more info to say anything even remotely useful.

    Feel free to ask.

  3. Oops. Sorry anonymous, I just realized that I didn't give you a clear answer to your problem.

    By recombining your plants production capabilities in new ways, I'm betting that you can find a "new (read better, faster, cheaper) service to your old customers.

    Plus they will probably love you for it.