Marketing Advisor Update

Sales and marketing tips, insights and advice for service businesses amd companies selling complex or technical products.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Selling is Sleazy, or, Is Selling Sleazy?

Just tonight I was watching an episode of the TV show Judging Amy with my family. (Stay with me on this... there is a lesson here.) In this episode a landscape gardener was called to the home of Judge Amy to cut down a fallen tree branch. At first the gardener did not seem to be the right person. Maxine (the character, Amy's mother) was expecting someone with a chainsaw - and this guy didn't have one.

However he did manage to talk quite convincingly to Maxine about the sad state of the garden, and commented on some special plants that were not in flower (that only a dedicated gardener would know about).

He left after insisting that the garden must depress Maxine very morning when she see's it. Maxine tried to refute the statement, but was visibly moved by the suggestion. He left a card with Maxine and suggested "When you are ready to replace the bulbs, let me know".

At the end of the scene I said to my 13 year old daughter, "You have just witnessed selling". (I tend to do that sort of thing - it's an occupational hazard!)

To this my wife exclaimed - "No it wasn't!".

When I pressed her to explain what she meant, she said - "Because selling is sleazy."

(Side note - this is not unexpected, as my wife has often said this before about selling. She has a viewpoint here common with many people.)

I said "you have just witnessed selling" for exactly that reason - You see most people would not have recognised what the landscape guy did as "selling". It appeared to be a normal conversation, and ceratinly wasn't sleazy, tricky, or manipulative.

It was 'selling' because the landscape guy did these things:

* He insisted on being called his proper title (landscape designer - I think), rather than just letting Maxine call him a gardener. In this way he was establishing his professionalism, and being assertive.

* He also observed a major issue which he was not originally asked to inspect - the sad untidy garden. In this way he demonstrated his expert knowledge and sought to identify a need, to feel happier in the garden.

* He was honest about his capacity to do the job, but did help by suggesting he could get someone who was equipped to do the job, even though he couldn't do it on the spot. In this way he displayed his expert industry connections.

* He did all this using a firm but polite and positive manner. He was not deterred by Maxine's initial gruffness.

PLUS - the next day he sent one of his men to cut the branch into sizes suitable for use as firewood - and had the logs stacked properly ready for use. In this way he over-delivered, and created a very satisfied client.

Selling doesn't have to be sleazy - it just has to be sincere.

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