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No more hard sell


Customers come naturally when you have what they want, writes William A Cohen

More than 50 years ago Peter Drucker proved that marketing and selling are not the same thing. Drucker may have made as much as $10,000 an hour as a consultant, yet he did no selling or advertising of his services. He also argued that perfect marketing would make selling unnecessary.

distributors. These are all marketing – not selling – functions. Selling was no longer required. Of course, it is necessary to get to that point. To do that, companies still need first to focus on the customer and what the customer values – and that’s true in both marketing and selling.

Marketing trumps selling

Think customer!

Marketing is about having the products or services desired by your prospective customer. If you have such a product or service, you have a much easier job in presenting the product to prospects and convincing them to buy it – both important steps in selling – without advertising. Impossible? No. For 70 years, The Hershey Company did no selling or advertising for its famous candy bar. According to an ad executive, it didn’t need to: “This was a brand that was an American staple, had been passed down for generations, and that people could remember enjoying as a kid.” The Hershey people had a product that was desired and could get it to

No matter how smart we are, we don’t get to decide what the customer wants and values. Sometimes this can result in sales that we never thought were possible. Years ago, Joe Cossman introduced to the gardening market the flexible garden hose with holes as an alternative to the water sprinkler. Practically everyone that owned a lawn or garden bought at least one. Cossman tracked all the wholesale orders of his product. It was a wise move. He found that farmer supply and feed stores were ordering his product in large quantities. Since homeowners seemed to fall outside the regular customers of feed stores, he contacted the stores to inquire

about the reason for the unexpected sales. He learned that chicken farmers had discovered that his garden hose with holes made an excellent – and less expensive – air conditioner for lowering the temperature of chicken coups during the hot summer months. Cossman had unearthed a large – but unsuspected – market. Drucker was not surprised: once-hidden markets were frequently unmasked in the course of business. What did surprise the great management consultant was how frequently some marketers ignored – or even intentionally avoided – unexpected sales. He decided the problem was that suppliers frequently made incorrect assumptions about what certain prospects wanted. Yet it was always the customer who defined the product or service, not the supplier.

Soldiers are using tyres for headwear

DuPont introduced Kevlar in the early 1970s. Kevlar is a super-cloth with fibres five times the tensile strength of steel. The engineers thought it would make

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Dialogue Q1 2018  
Dialogue Q1 2018