The next few posts will have a bit of a theme to them and is partly based on some content from my sales / marketing workshops. The theme is “Make it easy for people…” This blog is inspired by an email that arrived this morning. It’s a follow up email to a trade show I attended a couple of weeks ago. I don’t recall speaking to the company in question, so chances are this is a broadcast email to a portion of the delegate list. I’ve removed the company name, but otherwise this is verbatim:

“We provide powerful semantic content analytics solutions for web properties and unstructured stores of content. Organisations are using our technology to deliver faceted search and discovery based on entities, concepts and associated sentiments; driving monetization of their content, boosting audience engagement and allowing information to be repurposed.

To find out more about XXX, click here”

Now I think this is something to do with the web and finding information. But other than that it’s pretty much all gibberish.  How easy does their email read? How easy is it to work out what they do? Or the value of what this organisation does related to my business? (They are even making up words like “repurposed” – what does that mean? Could be a whole separate blog of its own)

I don’t think I could have made up anything better than this to illustrate my point. I’m sure  you would agree, this organisation is making it hard – right from the beginning – for me to understand and engage with them.

So, I wont. I don’t have time. They are making it way too hard for me. I want compaines to offer me solutions, not additional problems. If it wasn’t for the fact that I could use this email to illustrate my blog, it would have been deleted in under 2 seconds.

So, first rule of sales / marketing: Make it easy for people to understand what you do.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? When communicating with potential customers, avoid jargon, abbreviations, sounding clever, long winded sentances etc. Keep it simple. Keep it short. If you can’t do this, get a copy writer who can.

I don’t really care how you do it, just do it. Make it easy for me…

crossing the boxIsn’t it amazing how all these politicians appear when they want something? They are on TV, they are in the local shops, schools and factories and they also may come to your house. And why is this happening? It’s because they want something – they want my vote.

Salespeople are often like politicians. You only see them when they want something. For politicians it’s your vote, for salespeople it’s your order.

Professional salespeople on the other hand you see even when you are not in the market for something. These sales people value the relationship and the opportunity to better understand your requirements. They check-in and ensure everything is OK and bring advice, help and suggestions – at no charge.

So if you don’t see a salesperson, or company representative, when you are not buying – perhaps that company is not really interested in you? Professional salespeople know that the best time to build a relationship is not when they want something (your order) but when there is no pressure on one side to sell and the other side to buy. A long term relationship will lead to long term and repeat business, which surely is of interest to both parties?

Perhaps politicians might learn a thing or two from professional salespeople?

logo-topEarlier this week I went to the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM) conference: Successful Selling ’09. I’ve been a number or times before and there is always something new to inspire, entertain or steal (in terms of content) from the assembled speakers.

Upon registering I was given the token bag that held the conference program and other marketing material. Of course, the conference bag had to be branded for the event and over the front was “THE INSTITUTE OF SALES AND Marketing MANAGEMENT” together with their coat of arms (Yes, they really do have a coat of arms).

Now the fact that all the words were capitalised, except for “Marketing”, intrigued me. Was this a subtle indication that the Institute thought “Marketing” to be the lesser sibling when compared to “SALES”? Or perhaps this was the result of some branding exercise involving focus groups and blue sky thinking. Or was it just a mistake?

Then I remebered back to last year’s conference and last year’s bag. It was the same last year –  with “Marketing”lowercase and “SALES” capitalised. I also remembered that I spoke to the folks on the registration desk, and some of the ISMM staff the previous year as well, enquiring as to the reasons. The asnswer was really interesting and to summarise “No one knows”! Yes, that’s right no one in the ISMM (remember this is a professional body that – in part – supports marketing types) knows why it is like this. Nowhere else in the literature or on their website can I find the same branding. You will find a few other ways of branding the ISMM – but not this one. So, strangely, no one at the ISMM is responsible for brand identity or consistency. Other than to do the same thing this year as last year.

If this is intentional, then to me, it just looks wrong. Daft in fact. But there seems to be no one responsible, interested or senior enough to listen – or worse – do anything about it.

Must be because the SALES types are in charge and the Marketing types do what they are told to.

Does this add anything to the debate on the definitions of “sales” and “marketing” and the relationship between them?