It is strange how certain people are sales and marketing averse. It is like they have an allergy against them. The mere mention of sales and/or marketing make some sneeze. And yet nothing happens in business without these disciplines.
Nearly all business folks agree that sales is the lifeblood of all organizations. Without sales, none of the other functions happen. They cannot exist without the revenue sales brings in. Sales makes the whole engine run.
Marketing exists to help make sales easier. Think of marketing as pre-selling. The job of marketing is to enter the conversation going on inside the prospect’s mind and identify with the person. The better marketing is at resonating with the person, the more likely a sale will occur. If there were no marketing, sales would be a very hard profession.
Many artists don’t like selling. They feel it taints their profession, makes them appear to have sold out. This is a silly perception. The money derived from selling a piece or an act is what allows the artist to continue spreading the artwork, the message. Without the money, without the revenue, the message cannot continue.
Many musicians today blame the streaming services for destroying the music industry. Interestingly, this is the same industry they used to blame for destroying music. Now, they’re just blaming someone else. It has always been difficult to make a living as a musician. Now, it is even harder. Everybody knows this. And yet some still wake up every day and try. Kevin Kelly’s piece on 1,000 True Fans should inspire them. There are still ways to make money with one’s music, such as touring and selling merchandise and other creative revenue generators. Without this revenue, it is nearly impossible for the musician to continue in their quest. Sales and marketing are vital to the mission.
Teachers tend to be averse to sales and marketing. Strangely. It is strange because they’re presenting and selling daily lessons to a market of students, some of whom are paying good money to be there, learning. The best teachers are those who are passionate about their subject, injecting it with enthusiasm and vivid storytelling. They’re selling and marketing each day — they just don’t know it. Or, they don’t want to admit it. Some of these teachers are excellent salespeople, masters of their craft, the message, and its communication.
Think about some of your favorite classes you’ve taken. Why were they your favorite? Was it the subject? Was it the text? Or, was it the teacher who taught it and their methods of teaching that sold you so completely? It was almost certainly their method of teaching, their engagement, their enthusiasm, their care, their ability to transfer confidence in a lesson that sold you and convinced you. They injected great meaning into the subject they taught. One teacher may have been enough to inspire you to take on the subject of study as a major or career. The influence they had on your life is vast, and it only takes one.
Today’s best marketing is training, teaching, and solving problems in advance. The value this provides without expectation of compensation builds trust and influence between the salesperson and the prospect. If you can prove capability and show trust before asking for anything in return, you’re on the right path to revenue, even recurring revenue. This is what makes certain peoples’ stance on marketing ironic: they’re already doing the best type of marketing available!
Sales is largely about problem-solving and helping others. The common misperception about sales is the classic used car salesman: sleazy, condescending, know-it-all, only in it for the money, willing to do anything for the sale. Within certain contexts, this is unfortunately correct. The new perception for sales is one who is helpful, giving, and a good problem-solver. One who provides value through problem-solving first without asking for anything in return. Someone who builds influence through helpful action, and who builds reputation within the marketplace. This is the ideal for the new, modern salesperson. With qualities like these, sales shifts from being annoying to welcomed rapidly.
People need not fear sales. They just misunderstand it. Like all things, to get over this misperception, it is best to find a mentor, someone who is great at sales and embodies the modern values it exudes. Watch what they say, how they say it, and their actions. They’re doing things that the novice may be unaware of. Also, note what they don’t do. What they don’t do can be as important as what they do. It is a disciplined set of thoughts and actions like anything else.
Look at the legacy of Zig Ziglar. Zig wrote dozens of books. He gave hundreds of speeches. He gave us the wonderful personal development and sales maxim, “You can get whatever you want so long as you first help enough people get whatever they want.” He taught us to give first. He taught by example. He was always teaching. His teaching via his books and speeches was his marketing. He inspired a generation of sales and marketing professionals, as well as thought leaders with his actions. He was also consistent — he kept going and going and going well into his eighties. He proved that retirement was unnecessary when you’re passionate and persevering and have a message you can’t wait to share again and again and again. He also taught that preaching a message and working consistently can help keep you young. He continues to inspire after he has left us as others pick up his work, his concepts, and teach them to the next generation.