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Marketing Today

October 22, 2005

In business of selling, there are X&

s and Y&

s

Take a good look at yourself and any employees you may have who come into contact with your customers. This will likely be your sales staff, but don&

t overlook any area of your company. Question: Is your X factor larger or your Y factor?

I&

m not talking about chromosomes.

Rather, I am talking about two very distinct personality types. At the most basic level, X people are all about command and control. They are the stereotypical &

do it because I say so&

bosses, managers and high-pressure sales people who tend to believe that some people are born to lead and others to follow. In other words, they are by far on the &

nature&

side of the nature vs. nurture question of human development and potential. By contrast, Y people tend to believe that everyone has a chance for greatness provided they are given the right environment. It should go without saying that Y people are strongly on the &

nurture&

side of the same question.

X people sell things. Y people create an environment that allows and encourages customers to make buying decisions. If you&

ve ever been sold something, you had an X person helping you. If you bought something from someone and can honestly say you never felt like you were being &

sold,&

you had a Y person helping you.

Many X people enter the sales profession thinking that closing the deal is all about leading and directing the customer to the sale. They may be right. After all, have you ever bought anything after a hard sell? My guess is that you have. But how comfortable do you feel about the prospect of patronizing that business again and spending more money with them? Ah, now there&

s the rub.

Y people in the sales profession aren&

t really salespeople. They are guides, coaches, teachers and facilitators. A customer walks in the door and gets guided to what he is looking for. The Y salesperson asks leading and thought-provoking questions designed to give the customer a space to talk about her or his needs, wants, and affordability. The salesperson teaches the customer about the available products, such as features, limitations, warranty, pricing, financing and so on. Combining all of these ingredients creates an environment that facilitates a decision to purchase &

the best possible outcome. Second best, actually, because customers will remember the wonderful experience they had and (with a little help from you) become clients &

that rare breed of customer who shops at your business again and again. With a little more nurturing, these same clients will tell others about your business.

Let me be perfectly blunt: Great marketing can and will lead customers to your business. One poor sales experience is all it takes to completely waste that effort. Consider the relatively low percentage of people who respond to even the best marketing (call it 5 percent) and you know you&

ll need to reach 20 more people to replace the one that just left your business in disgust. Even worse, this disgruntled almost-customer will tell 20 people about their rotten experience on average. You will need to reach 400 people to replace the 20 you just lost. Multiply these numbers by every rotten sales experience that takes place at your store and I trust you&

ll agree that the results can be absolutely devastating.

On the flip side, nurturing customer relationships can yield breathtaking results. My longtime readers will remember this example: If a typical customer buys a $100 widget three times per year for 20 years, those purchases will add up to $6,000. If this customer refers three others, the total economic impact becomes $24,000. A bad sales experience could net you $100 at the expense of $23,900. If the disgruntled customer tells 20 people, your total loss becomes $125,900. All that to get someone to make one $100 purchase. Is it worth it? I don&

t think so.

Take a good hard look at how your business treats its customers and ask yourself if you are marketing yourself into bankruptcy. It&

s that simple and that serious. As an aside, many X people who enter the sales profession leave because they eventually get sick of the mounting rejections. Sadly, by then, the damage has been done.

I have met plenty of wonderful X people and my fair share of Y people who aren&

t exactly on my Christmas card list. All I am saying is that you need to take at least as close a look at your sales process as you do your marketing processes. The people handling your sales (and yes, that could include you) may or may not be well suited for the role. You may well have great people doing the wrong jobs. Make the appropriate changes and you&

ll be astounded at how your profits might jump. Again, this is not about accusations or making character judgments. It is about making sure that the people responsible for the final step in the revenue generation process are the absolute best people for that specific job.

Boosting your profits dramatically could be as fast and easy as making a few simple changes in assignments.

Need additional help with your marketing or any aspect of your business? If so, please e-mail me to set up a free 30-minute consultation with no obligation whatsoever.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments. You may e-mail me at anthony@coachanthony.com. Visit me on the Web at www.coachanthony.com.

is a local business consultant with more than 19 years of business and marketing experience. He lives in Ashland with his wife, Robyn, son, Logan, and their three dogs.