Sales and Marketing 'R' Us

<p>I was really struck this week by&nbsp;<a id="ebqh" title="Martin Sorrell" href="http://www.off-grid.net/2008/07/30/end-of-consumerism/">reports</a> that Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, one of the world's largest advertising conglomerates, has been giving speeches about the end of consumerism. If it's right that the great and the good of the advertising and marketing industry are starting to think about their role in a post-consumer era, that's surely a good thing.</p>
<div id="uzrm">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="uzrm1">And what might that role be? A lot of people think that marketing is just pushing stuff that people don't really want. But of course we all have needs, both tangible (food, for example) and intangible (supportive relationships, say). For me, marketing is the business function that works out what those needs are and ensures they get met.</div>
<div id="mez8">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="mez81">For any business, marketing can spell the difference between success and failure. I am sure this is as true for <a href="allthings/103/The-end-of-the-road-for-social-enterprise-.html">social business</a> as it is for mainstream business.</div>
<div id="e7k2">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="qsy.1">The first stage of marketing is to understand customer needs. That's not always easy. We've lived with rampant consumerism for 50 years or more. Most of us know nothing different. People's attitudes and needs do change but it takes real courage to look beyond what we expect and see the new. That courage is what many of the pioneers of social business are showing.</div>
<div id="u35m">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="o6ve1">And if we are going to rethink marketing, perhaps we also need to rethink sales. Like marketing, sales&nbsp;often gets a bad press. "Untrustworthy": that's how a colleague recently summed up the image of the typical (used-car) salesman.</div>
<div id="in4e">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="in4e1">But for me, sales, like marketing, is a noble art. The sales person works closely with others to help them understand what they need, and empowers them to get those needs met.&nbsp;</div>
<div id="kbzg">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="za36">In the very best examples, a salesperson builds a strong relationship with a customer, and shows a fundamental respect for the other's rights. They work with the customer in a creative collaboration, removing blocks, and finding tools and solutions.</div>
<div id="kbzg2">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="kbzg4">I hope that sounds different from what a "used-car salesman" does? Perhaps it's more reminiscent of a therapist, coach or consultant?</div>
<div id="mh0o">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="mh0o1">If you doubt it ever happens in practice, I'd suggest reading "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Escaping-Price-Driven-Sale-Sellers-Extraordinary/d...">Escaping the Price-Driven Sale</a>" by the masters of corporate sales research at Huthwaite. I think they'd suggest this form of sales is the only sensible way forward.</div>
<div id="dt3v">&nbsp;</div>
<div id="c_bp1">In a post-consumer society there's a shift from tangible to intangible needs. There's a shift to looking inwards and getting real rather than superficial needs met. But, for me, the best sales and marketing will still be of real and enduring value.</div>