Who’s Selling Your Product?
A few months ago, in the midst of the “Great Celebrity Death Race of 2009” America lost it’s favorite and most polarizing pitchman, Billy Mays.
Known for his trademark yelling style and somewhat abrasive technique, Billy Mays made a fortune for his products by selling them to the consumers using direct market infomercials. Whether you loved him or hated him, you certainly knew who Billy Mays was and, more importantly, what he was selling.
From Oxiclean to Mighty Putty, Billy Mays delivered the pitch with panache and did it to great effect. He was discovered by the owner of Orange Glo , Max Appel, and was asked to pitch for their line of cleaners. This was a decision that would forever change the lives of the business and the pitchman.
The success of Orange Glo and all its products, from selling millions of units on television to eventual inclusion in standard retail outlets can be traced back to this single decision. The decision to hire Billy Mays as it’s pitchman was the preeminent factor in its ultimate success.
This brings us to our signature topic; who’s selling your product? This is an important question for any sales associated business. You could have the worlds single most effective and remarkable product and it wouldn’t matter squat if you had a crap sales force. Likewise, if you were selling snake oil to the masses, it wouldn’t matter how your product worked as long as your sales force continued to deliver. Ok, both of those examples might be guilty of hyperbole but you get the point.
The success of your product will always be intrinsically linked with the ability to sell said product. Ask yourself, who is selling your product today? In my modest opinion they should have at least some of the following characteristics:
– BE HUNGRY : Like Alec Baldwin in Glenngary Glenross, they should hunger the sale. A true salesman thrives on competition. A true salesman needs to crave the sale, that’s the person that is going to go after it, not take no for an answer and kill for you.
– LOOK THE PART: I can recall working next to a medical complex a while back. Each and every day there would be an influx of professional and good looking young men and women, impeccably dressed and always toting a plate of sandwiches’ or other promo goodies to the doctor’s offices. They were apprehensive salesmen and women from the pharmaceutical companies always enticing the doctors to give out samples of their drugs and prescribe their medications for ailments. These sales people were representations of their company and they looked the part.
– KNOW THE PRODUCT: There is nothing that can kill the sale more for me then a salesman who can’t field every question I throw at them. They are the face of your brand to the consumer, they need to know each and every detail. It’s critically important that your sales force knows the product as if they had created it and loves it like it’s their baby.
These are just my own personal peccadillo’s but I hope that you get the overall point. If you’re not doing the sales yourself, picking your sales force is as important as picking your logo. In the end, you only get one chance to make a first impression… and you charge those who sell your product with making that impression. It could be the choice that makes or breaks your product, just look at Billy Mays.
AUTHORS NOTE: I watched “Pitchmen” on Discovery Channel and I felt like I really got to know Bill Mays. I never cared much for his infomercials but I never doubted his value as a brand man and his ability to sell a product. I for one was very saddened to hear about his death. I felt like we lost a great proponent for the hard sell. He will be missed.