A short essay about the difference between selling and marketing. Also something about lean. Essay's style is opinionated science fiction with no sources. All the assumptions are taken on the face value. Originality of the post on Richter Scale 0.
Phone sales is selling
There is a small (or huge) distinction between marketing and selling. To use an example; when you are watching a TV show on old fashioned channels (not Netflix, HBO, or any other subscription based digital channel) which are funded by commercials (or in some cases through taxes or donations), your show is filled with little gaps that where marketing people do their best to raise awareness. They also might offer a so called call-to-action. Which is the "go to the nearest shop and buy!", or "call this number immediately!"
Nobody threatens you with a gun to buy those matafaking, awesome whatevers. Phone sales is a completely different area. There is a small part of marketing involved there. Specially when you are cold calling. Cold calling is an unsolicited contact. In those cases the seller has to explain who they are, why they are calling, and what they are selling, and to call the person answering the phone a potential buyer is a stretch on imagination. If they are unaware that you can buy for example socks or phones right now, the seller has to first raise awareness, and this has to be done very fast.
I used to work for a company where we sold office equipment with brand names on them. Calling wasn't exactly cold calling as some of the customers where expecting calls every month, or a quarter, and some of them didn't. The customer list was based solely on previous interactions. The customers were not just potential customers, they were already customers.
One of the key performance indicators that we used was a conversion rate. Conversion rate was the amount of calls made that turned into sales. These numbers were somewhere between 0-5 per cent. Generally 2.0 or higher was decent and 5 was above expectations.
Now imagine what the conversion rate is with unsolicited calls. First we should make a some kind of definition for an unsolicited call. For this purpose I would say that there are three conditions where as two of those conditions have to be met. Getting a hat trick here is just a plus for the definition, and disruptive as fuck for the "potential" customer.
1) Contact is not based on previous interactions with the contacting party.
2) Contact is based on a random number generator, or - even at best - on a random list of contacts (list of people living in area A, list of people who are working, etc.).
3) "Potential" customer has not filled in forms where they give permission to call them.
You probably have a clue already why I started putting the "potential" in quotation marks. Calling something potential with a less of an 1 per cent success rate is the same as calling a lottery ticket a potential winning ticket. And we probably know at least a one person who has won 5 euros with a 3 euro lottery ticket. Such potential, such wow.
Now to the point of effective sales. If you would be working in a lean phone sales company, or a company that sells stuff also using phone sales, your target should be having as big conversion rate as possible. Everything else is waste. If you are not calling the right person, at the right time, selling the right stuff, you are wasting your capacity, and your customer's time. Added bonus is an annoyed customer. If your sales men can give up the sales, but still feel good about raising awareness of the products in a manner that the "potential" customer finds helpful, although not currently in a state of doing business, you can mark that as a 2/3 waste.
Ads are marketing
I sometimes read statements that bluntly argue that a good marketing campaign is when people feel the urge to buy the stuff that the campaign is raising awareness of. I could not agree more. My zone of uncomfortable thoughts lies in measuring.
If marketing would be looked as a product, the raising awareness/call-to-action -statements of an ad should not be measured in terms of sales. I'll use IKEA as a case study. There is no argument against IKEA doing pretty okay for a Swedish assemble-it-yourself-mofo-retailer (mental note: Lego is also a Scandinavian/Nordic brand - coincidence?). IKEA does a lot of marketing (tv-show Friends, anyone) and a little to no sales outside their shops. Compare this to the idea of somebody making you an unsolicited call to try to raise awareness, and sell you a bookshelf to be assembled at home ("with an incredibly low price!!!"). But it doesn't do that, although I would be interested in getting that call. I would love to hear that cold-calling opening pitch*.
Instead IKEA sees the ads as a product. They don't want to annoy people, so they buy ads where people are used to seeing Ads, and as a product placement. So even if they don't reach the right people at the right time offering the right stuff, they still don't waste other people's time. Except during that commercial break on Friends.
But there is a new breed of marketing (I'm stretching a bit - 20 years is basically a grown-up) which tries to combine sales with marketing. Which is perfectly fine if you can market and sell the right stuff to the right person at the right time.
When internet sites are getting accustomed to offering ads with new measures like pay-per-click, or pay-per-view there becomes an unintended incentive to make Ads disruptive. Ad-space buyers don't want to raise awareness, they want people to click, and to make people click they need to put the commercials just underneath the mouse cursor; Or open new windows; Or putting commercial ads inside texts - this is perfectly acceptable to me, and the least intrusive marketing scheme in my humble opinion -; Or having "I want your hourly newsletter"-boxes ticked by default.
To jump to my point: Ads should be measured by who they reach, and not how many they reach. I understand that I am asking a lot, but so did the politicians who wanted to fly people to the moon (I know it's cliche comparison).
Ads are the product. Sales is the interaction.
"Imagine there's no waste, it isn't hard to do, nothing to disrupt, only right people at the right time doing right stuff." -John Lean
I've wanted to create this fictional character called John Lean who is loosely based on the factual character John Lennon. John Lean is a visionary, who doesn't think of how to get there, he imagines how the end products look alike.
John Lean has a global company called The Lean Beat which manufactures and sells customised music instruments. Lean Beat has a manufacturing department, an engineering department, a marketing department and a sales department. People working in all departments work rigorously together changing ideas. On the premises of selling and advertising, John Lean is mostly interested in how the two latter departments work.
Marketing department has a lot of people working on the creative parts, and inside their team works another team whose sole purpose is to find out if people find the products meaningful. Their product is the ad. They do rigorous search profiling their customers using a huge chunk of data, and a lot of analytical tools including Fermi problems, 8 wastes, Pareto charts, three M's (mudi, muri, and muda - not forgetting the media, message, and market), stream-value-mapping and 5 why's just to mention the few most obvious. They don't give a flying fundamental about how their ads align with sales. They only care if the ads align with their other products. In terms of input and output, they care if the marketing team receives meaningful information about the products, and that they can conceive those messages to people that actually want to use their time for the ads.
Sales department is also big, but there are only a few people who actually sell. Most of the team actually works out to find people who want their stuff without disrupting their lives at all. One of the workers there is Jennifer. Jennifer's market area is the whole UK, and she works on the market area all by herself. She sells instruments by the phone and email. Her conversion rate is 99,996 (very Six Sigma, so much wow). How they manage this is by calling people who are seriously thinking of buying an instrument. Jennifer calls them exactly when expected, and quickly works out the customisation plans.
Also because the marketing nor the sales department waste people's time, people don't find their marketing nor their sales efforts disruptive nor harassing.
This is a childish text that nobody who wants to make short-term profits should care about. Also in a dog-eat-dog capitalism you can't play nice. Game theory might present a small glimpse of how the work should work: if every company on this planet would try to market to people that are interested in the ads, and to sell people who actually need stuff, companies would require a lot less capital in their sales and marketing. Everyone would profit. Less things would be produced, and it would be superawesome for the nature.
"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will lean as one"
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will lean as one"
* Opening pitch imagined: "Hi, this is Joe from Assemblers at home Ltd. How are you doing? Do you have a minute to talk about what a new bookshelf could do in your living room? I assume that you have a living room? Do you have a bookshelf there? Do you still have space there? What if I could say that you could assemble your own bookshelf at home up to your standards? It would cost 25 euros + handling fee of 10 euros. Building up the bookshelf will take on average 7 minutes. Do you want to hear the best part? If you measure the space that you can allocate for the bookshelf we will send you customised parts with an extra cost of 8 euros. How does that sound? (open-ended questions are always good for picking up information).