Should an organisation invest in having a sales force?
Let’s begin with a scenario. There are 200 organisations selling the same product. Each one believes that their’s is the best product, just like you.
So which one is the best product?
To go to the root of this question, let’s look at the root word, ‘best’. How does one define best? There are a few options:
1. One which sells the most.
2. One which has the highest aspirational value.
3. One which is fitted to the needs of the consumer.
One which sells the most will have the least resistance, as people don’t like to be wrong. It also has the highest revenues, and therefore, the muscle to protect it’s image. The one with the highest aspirational value – maybe like a rolls royce, does not even want to get into the mass market as it would lead to a reduction in the aspirational value.
Now, this aspirational value function, in terms of a software tool, like whtsapp or facebook, does not exist. So that leaves us with one which sells the most and one which is fitted to the needs of the consumer.
Now, the reasons why the second product is not selling the most could be many, vis-a-vis:
1. People don’t know it exists.
2. People don’t like to try new things as they are using the current tools for a purpose and as long as that purpose is getting fulfilled, they are okay. Something like, if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out, but if you slowly raise the temperature, you may have frog legs for dinner. I must put a disclaimer here, no frogs were harmed in writing of this article!
3. The adoption curve would involve learning and because of the law of inertia, it never seems to move.
4. The people don’t know or don’t perceive the benefits of it.
Here is where an old classmate who had studied with me at some point in my life comes into the story; he doesn’t believe that it makes sense to have a product which fits the needs and not have the maximum sales. Another person who I had met during one gathering comes in saying, that given all things being the same, you would want more money. Now, you can’t deny this outrightly. It is the condition of the world and there is no denying this. Unless you are a spiritual seeker, and given everything stays the same – you would want more money for the same thing you are doing.
Given the above assumptions, and yes, they are assumptions – which I will prove conclusively later, comes the question of sales and marketing. Or should I say sales vs marketing. From the perspective of employees, marketing helps sales. A blended organisation where both functions are present and they move in tandem to give you the best result. But as an owner, it is a much deeper question. You believe in your product and are excited about it. Now, you will talk about it endlessly. Or dream and think about it all the time. It will consume you whole. And the sheer passion, will be transmuted to everyone around you. A goal, a purpose in life. That’s one side of the story. Your side. Your partner, your friends, your clients – everyone will be tired of hearing you talk about this. They are not the one’s trying to make your dream come true, they have their own dreams and rightly so. They are just going about their dreams. And nothing wrong with that. But then comes the critical part of the question. If each person has a different dream, and people do get tired of hearing you, would having a sales force help? Will they not do the same thing? And do you want people who only want to talk about your company or purpose around you and you cant tolerate those who have other dreams? And would you like it if others did the same to you? I am guessing you have started to catch on now.
So, if this is the scenario, what would be the best way to go about the problem. One way, get on the loudspeaker, get the sales going and then sit back and reap the benefits. But the strangest thing in that is that very soon, you will have a competitor who will beat you with just the strategy you used to climb up the ladder. So then what, how does one go about promoting one’s product.
There are strategies one can apply to make one’s dream come true – market strategically, play games and tactics with friends or people who could potentially be friends but turn out to be clients or business associates. More like an army, we are walking the path – together. And our aims are common and which is what unites us. Usually, what you are told is agree or see your dream die. But do you want to lead a life where people run away from you – like you do from anyone passionate about a cause or thing you don’t care about? But it is said, that in this passion is where things are created. They have costs associated but the happiness derived from such causes, if it satisfies your soul, is enough. If you make a mistake in identification of what satisfies your soul, then boy-o-boy, you are in trouble. You have already paid a lot for something you don’t really care about. This might be a leading cause for depression. Not a topic of discussion for now but to arise is what makes all the difference, and search again!
So now, if you know that this might be a cause of a lot of pain in the future, then the only way is to find another way. Even though they say, its either that or your dream dies. It isn’t fare to hire a sales force and ask them to become your loudspeakers while you recognise this problem and conciously agree with it. So if there is no sales force, then the marketing force is what remains! And if that means that you have decided to not take that route, even at the cost of what you think is your dream – please understand, I am not asking you to give up your dreams, then which other paths remain open to walk to your dream? All I am asking is for you to give up the monetary angle associated with it. Remember, it’s from the context of a business owner. But the initial question, of how does one then build traction? One way is, go to lots of people and talk about it. Second way is, market well and take it easy about the “active” sales. Work only with in-bound inquiries? The challenge remains – how does one, where everyone is shouting their name, on tv channels, and in gatherings, through phones / skype / email etc. and so on; and how, if you choose, to not do active sales, will you tell your consumers about it? But you must struggle towards your dreams.
Another important aspect is a large percentage of the people employed form a part of the sales force. What about their jobs? You should never be in sales if you are not passionate about the cause of the founder. So basically, don’t sell what you don’t agree with. But now coming back as an employee, in this current scenario, money is an essential part. So here is where the ethics, morality and ‘applying means which agree with you’ come in. What does one do for money? No sales people were fired / killed as there are none to begin with.
One option is, do sales for sometime, and then relax. Second option, continue doing it because you think, live and talk it or you feel it is important or you believe it is important for the society. Third option, find a way, which in this loud cacophonous market will differentiate you and at the same time, which will add to the lives of everyone around you. But beyond a point, they will not listen and it’s not effective also. Given these circumstances, and the looney owner, what is the strategy?