Andy Marken · 04-20-2009 · Category:
"If you aren't selling, you're buying" -- F.G. "Buck"
Rogers, former head of IBM Marketing, Sales activities
Somewhere along the line we got sidetracked into
believing we had to focus on our profession.
We forgot what people in companies -- engineers, scientists,
accountants, product managers, vice presidents,
communications, lawyers, technical/customer support personnel and yes presidents --
were supposed to do.
We got so wrapped up in our own status in the
organization, our own feeling of self-importance, our title; we
forgot our real job.
Selling products...selling services...making a profit.
1. When a customer problem or question comes to you, you
try to answer it. And
you go directly to the people
who can provide the answer to ensure they customer gets assistance and a
2. When a phone call or email -- internal or external --
comes in, you return the call or respond within an
hour if at all possible. Or you ensure someone handles the query if you are on the
road. You leave no query unanswered before you leave the office at the end
of the day
3. You spend at least 10-15% of your time with your sales
force calling on customers and/or prospects to find out why
they purchased -- or didn't -- your firms products/services and what they like/dislike
4. You visit outlets and stores that sell your
products/services to see how your promotional materials and the
products, as well as your competitor's are presented
5. You talk about your projects, programs, activities
with senior management and staff in terms of market
response/reaction, impact, sales
6. You time your product announcements and roll-outs so
they coincide with when the product/service will
actually be available -- in a solid form -- for sale
7. You spend time trying to determine what the customer
wants, needs and not what you think you want to
design, produce and ship
Those things aren't your responsibility, your concern?
Selling...being responsible...being responsive is your total
It is little wonder that customers -- business and
consumer -- dislike the buying process so much.
Companies that are just a little bit better focused on
the selling (and support) process produce better results.
Often it doesn't take that much to be that much better.
In the late '70s and early '80s Buck Rogers of IBM was
the epitome of the salesman's salesman. His consistent uniform
-- dark blue suit, white shirt, rep tie and red pocketchief -- may seem dated
now but the fundamentals he preached and practiced are as sound today as they were
In his mind everyone in the organization was a sales
person. The janitor, the engineer, the lawyer, the PR
person, the lab rat, the installation/service technician were all part of the IBM sales
The internet didn't change that.
Customer support didn't change that.
Specialties didn't change that.
Company focus on specialization, departmentalization, compartmentalization changed the focused customer approach.
The eGain customer relations study polled 300 US,
Canadian firms in various market sectors including healthcare,
retail, financial services, communications, PC and CE manufacturers,
hospitality and services. Your firm could have been caught in this wide net. The inquiries
to the firms (sent as emails) expressed a keen intent to buy one of the
company's high-value products or services.
- 1% of the firms never responded
- 39% sent an answer within 24 hours
- 15% sent an acknowledgement that they had received the inquiry
- 17% responded with an accurate, complete answer
- 6% didn't have an email contact
Don't say well that's the sales department for you.
Rewrap the inquiries in terms of the inquiries you receive. Do
you think the results would have been any different?
Does your organizations list easy-to-find key company
contact information on your web sites? Direct email
addresses? 24-hour phone numbers?
Do you answer every inquiry even from suppliers,
prospects or customers halfway around the globe even though
they have nothing to do with your area of "responsibility?"
Do you follow-up to make certain they are supported
Do you treat emails like paper mail...handle it once,
handle it immediately, take the appropriate action and move
Do you view incoming email as talking to a person face to
face? Respond promptly and courteously? Or simply
ignore the individual?
If you answered no to most of these questions you are not
doing your job...your selling job.
But sales aren't your job?
It's your job at work and at home!
- Didn't you take engineering and technical jargon and
put it into words ordinary people could understand?
- Didn't you advise your management what the
ramifications might be of some policy
or program you didn't feel was in the best interest of the company's reputation or future?
- Didn't you explain the reasons for an aggressive
product launch with your marketing and marketing communications
- Didn't you help get your CEO on the show program as a
- Didn't you pitch and negotiate a better price and
delivery schedule with a supplier?
- Didn't you make a presentation to engineering (or
marketing) on a new product or service you wanted to see
added to your product offering?
- Didn't you convince your spouse that buying a new HDTV
was a wise move?
- Didn't you discuss the reasons why camping in the
mountains was much better than a simple visit to
- Didn't you negotiate a date or vacation with that new
person who caught your eye at the athletic club?
Rationalize all you want but if you are good in your
chosen field or profession you're selling all the time. You
are selling your ideas...your words...your ability to look at problems and
opportunities from every angle...your reputation.
If you're uncomfortable with this then don't call what
you do selling. Rather tell people you persuade,
influence and negotiate.
Then wrap it all with a superb title.
But understand the basics of solid sales efforts. That's
the way you get others to adopt your point of view or
idea, that you get them to respect/agree with your opinion and that they help
you achieve what is best for your company, its products/services and the market
Buck Rogers' mantra is as true today as it was in the
Selling is cool.
Selling is fun.
Selling is good for your company's long-term success and
It's as true for engineering, accounting, legal, product
planning, marketing, accounting, manufacturing and
public relations as it is for the sales department.
It may not be part of your job title or even in your job
you aren't selling, you're