The death of a salesman

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So why is a marketing guy writing about “The Death of a Salesman” you ask? Simple; any marketing person worth their weight MUST be the best salesperson within the organization, period. It's not about door to door sales, but maybe it is, only more sophisticated because of all the new "door-to-door" sales tools we have with today's technology.

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The death of a salesman

  1. 1. The Death Of A SalesmanIs This My Obituary From The Home Furnishings Industry?I remember when I watched this iconic play by Arthur Miller. I was just embarking ona career in sales and it thoroughly scared and depressed me. It’s a story about Willy Loman; a traveling salesman whose career is failing, which quickly infects his relationship with his family. It’s an in- depth character study that all people should see at least once. I was so afraid I would become that person, selling a product using old methods that continued to fail and becoming detached and sad as he was. Fortunately, it inspired me to NOT be that guy back in the day, but sadly, that day is quickly arriving for many of us, if it hasn’t already. So why is a marketing guy writing about “TheDeath of a Salesman” you ask? Simple; any marketing person worth their weightMUST be the best salesperson within the organization, period. Its not about door todoor sales, but maybe it is, only more sophisticated because of all the new "door-to-door" sales tools we have with todays technology.Think about it, : 1. They must clearly define and articulate the Brand and its products and services.
  2. 2. 1. They must also “sell” this to all stakeholders with vision, passion and conviction. 2. They must have a thorough understanding of the products and processes to take a product to market and create the excitement necessary to create leads for the sales force. 3. They must clearly define the features, benefits and attributes of that product AND articulate the “selling message” 4. They must continually improve and innovate within the company to keep the brand, products fresh and relevant and continually sell these insights too. 5. They must be the inspirational leader whose passion is the brand and it must be infectious!And a lot more!All of this is being lost…very quickly.When I was a kid, I’d go on vacation and I’d get a couple cool mementos to bringhome and show off to my friends. I could do that because back then, you were onlyable to buy things that were unique to that area. Not anymore. Go anywhere andyou’ll find the same selection of furniture, clothes, fast food and stuff in general.There is nothing unique about the products or the messaging to attract a consumer toyour brand or store. It’s all being commoditized and that’s why on-line retailers arequickly taking away market share…because they have the unique “stuff” peoplesearch for and want.Back in the day, I was taught that great marketing created the sales proposition to: “Inspire, educate, motivate and engage.” All of this is being lost…very quickly, and I’ve become the Willie Loman of today. Why, because I don’t know how to commoditize creativity and passion. No one wants that anymore, they want an MBA who can manipulate an excel spreadsheet in 47 shades of grey. Today, companies are more concerned with the educational degree....a pedigree..., even if that degree, or lack of, was obtained before computers, the internet, cellphones, and more. These technological advancements, and other dramatic changes inour society, has transformed everything in retail today, especially as it pertains tohow to “sell.”
  3. 3. So retailers and brands play it safe and the result is so obvious. Today’s marketinggeniuses focus their entire brand platform around the discount or sale; yep, the race tothe bottom; 50%-70% off and more, if they could. Everyone seems to be watchingeveryone else at the expense of building a unique sales and marketing proposition. Goahead, ask anyone when the last time they were inspired or engagedwith any marketing platform that motivated them to purchase a product…..from animpassioned salesperson.This coupled with the “automation” of marketing information…{there’s an APP forthat}…has relegated great marketing to a “gate keeper” rather than a leader. Everyonewants that MBA leading their team. I’ve always wondered why an MBA is moreimportant than vision, passion, knowledge and experience. Both would be great, butI’d take the latter before the former any day. You can teach knowledge….a BA orMBA…, but you can’t teach vision, passion and the creative execution that consumersrelate to. Everyone knows that a great salesperson has an “infectious passion abouttheir job/product”, and the marketing guy isn’t giving them anything to be passionateand excited about anymore.That is why I believe we are witnessing the death of sales as we know it. The role ofsales has become more of Vendo-Salesperson: show, tell and sell. Why? Becausetheir best sales leader…the marketing guy…is NOT leading, innovating and creatingthe excitement that used to infect salespeople with passion for their brand. Gone arethe days of inspirational creative, taking a chance, differentiating one self from thecompetition. Just look at Target. They used to be Tar-zhay. Their same store saleshave started to fall because they aren’t unique anymore. Best Buy commoditized theirbrand and that’s causing them to fail miserably in store, and especially on the internet.Look at furniture stores, all of them are all clamoring for that $399 sofa in 3 differentcolors, because the other guy has it too. I have a lot more examples of this happeningeverywhere in retail. The marketing guy is helping to kill the great salesperson because they aren’t performing their 5 basic functions (above). Any marketing person worth their weight knows that their customer of today is NOT their customer of 5 years ago…yet they haven’t adapted to this new “wired consumer” with a great internet and social marketing strategy. They have ignored this dynamic change and by doing so, they are not delivering sales opportunities….which is their
  4. 4. “primary job!”Let’s talk about furniture for a minute. I know this industry well, serving as Ashley’sChief Marketing Officer for years, as well as many others. Home Furnishing’s hasbeen severely commoditized. At retail, most furniture retailers do not understand the power of a great website, the need for tons of content, product descriptions, and more. They think showing pictures will do it but they won’t because the marketing guy isn’t investing ininspirational photography that would inspire a consumer to “imagine” what that itemcould look like in their home. Most product photography is bland/boring and “done onthe cheap.” Many shots are just plain ugly, shot overseas in China to save money andit looks like it. That doesn’t help sell the product it hurts it and the poor salesperson isalong for the ride.They are not writing copy that is unique and relevant and they are not delivering thenumber one engaging element: Videos! Think about this for a minute. If you have“better goods” and you’re selling a name brand leather sofa at $1,999.00, why woulda consumer want to buy that when that same store is selling a “bonded leather – lookalike” for $399.00….and HELLO - it’s NOT real leather – it’s Vinyl. A videoexplaining what you’re buying would in fact raise the expectations of the consumerand the sales ticket. But the chief marketing guy isn’t doing that, so the tickets aresmaller, the commissions less and the sales person is expected to do it all without anyhelp.This isn’t just about furniture. This is about all retail. Take an honest inventory andsee if you’re destined to become irrelevant like so many past iconic brands thatstagnated and now are scattered across the junkyards of retail.There is so much more. Just think about it. Why are you different? What are you
  5. 5. doing different to inspire “me”, to engage me? Are you where I want to find you? Thesales person can’t do it all. They need a leader with a vision, a leader with passion, aleader on a mission and because we as marketers are not leading as we should, we’rewitnessing the death of a salesman.Todays marketers must stop thinking themselves into acting...and start actingthemselves into thinking!I would love some comments please Want more? Go to http://www.social4retail.com where we have hundreds of articles, info-graphics and more to help you create guide and deploy successful marketing solutions integrating the web with social media. About Bill Napier: www.social4retail.com - About Bill Napier: Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B & B2C solutionsintegrating traditional marketing strategies with the web and social media. He hasworked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketingofficer for some of the industrys largest manufacturers and creating some of thelargest promotions ever launched within the industry.Comments? Questions?Contact Bill Napier,Napier Marketing Group, Inc.billnapier@napiermkt.com612-217-1297www.social4retail.com

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