Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Arts of Selling - Convince, Confuse or Scare The.....

I was at The Curve recently and made a quick tour at the exhibition area. A typical sight there was, where bunch of salesman and ladies talking to some potential customers which i presume trying to convince them to buy some overprice massage seat, vacuum cleaner and other stuff which can be bought elsewhere at perhaps only 10-30% of the selling price.

Amazing!!....Three (3) to ten (10) times more expensive and yet many still subscribe to them. I guess no matter how expensive a product is, there are always some suckers out there.....and I'm probably one of them too....in some isolated cases of course.:-)...

A typical sight at the Mall
I've always wanted to share this thoughts which I've somehow done in brief in some of my seminar talks. Very brief because I'm not really a known Sales or Marketing guru. Therefore, most of the topics of seminar /forum that I spoke were not directly related to Sales or Marketing. 

Anyway, Marketing and sales are two different things which require different set of strategies, different set of disciplines and skills. Marketing is the act to reach and persuade your prospects that you are the company or product for them. Sales on the other hand is the act of persuading your marketed prospects to engage directly by purchasing or subscribing to your products or services. Marketing is cost while sales is revenue.

If we ask any marketing people or students graduated in marketing degrees, they will know the 3 Ps in marketing : Price, Product and Place. Peter Drucker added another P - "Promotion". However, when we talk about Sales or Selling strategy, there are various versions. I learned some of these in 2 weeks intensive sales course by Dale Carnegie Training Malaysia.

Even then, nobody talks about the C C S art of selling..which stands for CONVINCE, CONFUSE AND SCARE them. This too I believe you won't get in any text books or sales literature in colleges and universities..or perhaps if any, would come in different terminology instead.

Basically in selling one would typically try to CONVINCE, failing which will then try to CONFUSE the potential customers, and if still fail to sell will SCARE them instead. Of course these strategies or arts of selling can come in  combination, sequel or just merely one or any combination of two strategies.

CONVINCE

This is standard...every salesman will normally start with this strategy. Coming up with convincing statement persuading one to purchase. Statement like..."our products are made out of quality IMPORTED materials" or "ORGANIC product that can reduce your WEIGHT in 30 days" and many more...

However the Convince strategy will work effectively only if it touches the potential customers' emotional believe and behavior. For example, word like IMPORTED works on people who are brand conscious or with high society status ego. Word like ORGANIC would work on environmentalist, health conscious or green fundamentalist.

A good salesman would be able to read his/her potential customers emotional believe through quick observation of the person, combine with few words of conversations. A bad salesman on the other hand, will read through their standard sales pitch on everyone they meet hoping some will strike or convert to sales..

CONFUSE

Failing to convince...try to confuse them instead. It works most of the time too. Statement like "This product consists ZPT3 elements with extra Mucostilacatic that could...." or " during market EQUILIBRIUM, HYBRID life insurance provides returns..."

These sort of statements make the salesman looks smart or the potential customers feel like an idiot. And in this idiotic feeling that most of the time one would purchase because customers feel the salesman knows better what he's talking about.

Ignorance is the reason why one can easily be manipulated. However, if this strategy is used on potential customers who are knowledgeable, it could turn out making the salesman feels like an idiot instead. Having said that too, I've seen too many times even a subject matter expert would fall into a SUPER SALESMAN.

There's a saying, a good salesman could even sell block of ice to the Eskimo. See illustrated cartoon I extracted from Mc Humor.com by Mc Cracken

SCARE THEM

Have you seen this kinda weird ugly looking giant creature dummy or model at shops or exhibition area that sell some RM3,000 to RM10,000 vacuum cleaner?? It normally comes in at least  3 to 4 feet length and height. In actual fact it is model of a dust mite that is so small that can only be seen using a magnifying glass.

A Magnified Dust Mite
How else to convince one to buy a RM10,000 vacuum? Tell the customers that this is how a dust mite looks like that goes into our body system through our respiratory process. When I first heard that and at the same time look at the giant dust mite model, my nose starts to feel itchy and suddenly water start running out of eyes. Awesome!!!! But I didn't buy the vacuum cleaner because don't have that much money to spare for a vacuum cleaner...:-)

To scare, one must understand what are the things that fear the customers most. Illness, death, security, being poor, undermined dignity or even going to hell are some of the common fears.

That is why you would probably have heard this before from an insurance agent who says "Sir, if you DIE tomorrow...." or food supplement salesman would say " Sir, the daily cost in a hospital ICU is more than buying this RM1000 of 60 days program food supplement..."  and in some cases, salesman do play God too like "Sir, you don't want to go to Hell by using conventional banking. At least Islamic banking is Halal..."

All being said, we are all salesman at some stage of our daily life anyway. Just that we don't realize it. Any act of persuasion to engage another to subscribe to your desire is already an act of selling as far as I'm concern. A child is a salesman to their parents and vice versa, husband to wife and vice versa, employee to employers or even a baby to his/her mother....a simple scare strategy by a baby crying would make a mother or a daddy wake up in the middle of the night to prepare milk...

So no one can really say they can't sell when they were born a salesman anyway....Sorait.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Being a Practicing Accountant - the Road I Didn't Take.

Although this question never really strikes me but my recent experience speaking at the Accountants in Business Symposium 2012 organized by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) somehow trigger some flashbacks. An accountant and a banker I was once upon a time, had I not took the path of being an entrepreneur, I would have been one of the participants in the Symposium, perhaps attending merely to fulfill my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, listening to some "IT Guy" explaining about "Cloud Computing.


As usual, to warm up my delivery, i would normally crack some jokes at the very beginning, during and perhaps just before I wrap up. I've spoken in many seminars, forums and symposium as such in front of various walks of life and professions, such  as lawyers, bankers, CEOs of multi-nationals, governments, international trade delegates, insurance agents, media professionals, university students etc. and this was my FIRST TIME experiencing almost total silent from the participants when i crack a joke, except for some gigglings and small laughs from the secretariats staffs sitting at the rights hand side of the hall....AMAZING!!!

Flashback!!! Come to think of it, that's how I was too  once upon a time ago. Focusing on key points to be delivered by the speaker and eliminate all irrelevant information, data and points delivered by the speaker...and JOKES are IRRELEVANT info..

This concept of eliminating irrelevant info is similar to how our brain generally works, except it works more on accountants I guess :-)...Anyway check out some of these Awareness Test to know what i mean..:-)


Then it came to the question and answer session. Again, there were only two questions asked but got nothing really to do with my presentation....Something like - "Our country's internet broadband still pretty bad even in major cities...when do you think our country would be fully wired?". Emmm...hard question to answer because that's just simply beyond me.....

I was confused...first they eliminated my jokes, presuming they listened to the facts of my presentation and eliminated the rest, then they asked out of topic questions. Now I wasn't so sure if they actually understood my presentation or not...:-) ??  However, when I look through the list of topics and speakers during that two days seminar, I realized that it was my presentation that was out of topic :-). Most others are pretty much accounting stuffs ie. reporting, taxes, standards etc.

Anyway, that's not the reason why I'm writing this time. Being together with a good crowd of accountants do bring back some memories. It just triggers how much different we are in almost everything that we do, talk and think

While we talk about business intelligence (BI) that could provide management with almost real time operational and performance data that support decision making, accountants on the other hand, talk about "Standards" in historical reporting. While we talk about sales, business development and marketing, accountants talks about prudent accounting treatment. While we talk about strategic planning, accountants talk cost accounting. While we talk about business growth, accountants talks about profits and taxes. While we talk about strategic planning, accountants talk about budgeting.

Even then, no organization could live without one. If you don't hire them as an employee, you will still need to outsource the book keeping and accounting stuff to third party accounting firms.

I could not imagine the kind of accountant I would be had I not accepted the offer of my ex-boss in Arthur Andersen, Azmi Ahmad to join CIMB and later join him as an entrepreneur. As much as I could permute various possibilities for being an accountant, the truth remains....I WILL NEVER KNOW THE ROAD I NEVER TAKE. Sorait....