Dave Kurlan and Jim Huston

If you haven’t already read my last post, you need to go to: I’ve Got It! and if you haven’t read Dave Kurlan’s last post, you need to go to: More Death, because this post is the promised follow up and response.

The world is just a series of opportunities and coincidences, and this is both. I was lucky enough to attend Jim Huston‘s Three Day Brainstorming Session in Portsmouth, NH last Thursday-Saturday. We toured two very successful landscaping companies. We spent many hours in open forum, brainstorming discussions where no topic was off limits and everbody (20+ landscaping company owners) shared openly. A few experts were asked to speak and one happened to be Jeff Carowitz, a nationally known marketing guru for the green industry. Jeff fielded the question (not from me), “What’s the difference between marketing and sales?” He replied that marketing typically deals with a 3-5 year plan. Sales deals with right now. He told the story of the owner that called to say, “I’m near bankruptcy. I need a marketing plan.” Jeff’s thought, “No thanks!” and wouldn’t help. My thought was, “Go sell something.” Later, Jeff added that Sales is a part of Marketing. He also fielded questions on Public Relations, Advertising, Promotions, etc. and pointed out that each was a part of Marketing. I expect that Jeff and I will be interacting in the future and anticipate that it will be fun and productive.

One of the site tours included presentations by the landscape “designers”. Allison commented that Amelia had already met her entire 2006 sales quota in July. Amelia commented that Allison’s designs were excellent! Great detail. Perfectly to scale. Etc. Allison went to landscape design school. Amelia was a Mary Kay “Pink Cadillac” lady for 10 years. Allison wants to get to the design. Amelia does the design if she has to. Get it? How important is sales ability here? Both designers benefit from the same marketing program.

I talked with several owners during the weekend. One said that they closed 20-25% of their proposals, another said 65%. The rest were in between. Incidentally, we’re talking about proposals that take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks to put together before the chase begins. Do you think the difference in closing rates is due to a difference in marketing ability or sales ability?

Some of you may know that I worked in the energy conservation industry from 1990 to 1994. A government facility put a project out to bid. Three companies responded (including our crack VP Engineering and his team of engineers). None were selected. The facility re-bid the project. I led the team. My ability to ask the right questions and develop SOB made it so that everybody was listening to us more than the competion. The difference:  $1.4 million. That’s only one story. I’ve got a million of them. How about 3 years, 100’s of competitors, blank slate RFQ and RFP, dozen’s of sub-contractor’s help leading up to Governor Weld’s signature on our contract and $4.2 million? All due to our marketing program? Yeah right!

Get with the program, marketing is important. It can positively predispose a prospect. It can plant a seed. Using pay per clicks, forms, catalogs and the like, you’ll make some sales. But, when human comes in contact with human it’s a sales opportunity and whether or not your marketing program works is about to come down to how well you can sell.

I was going to end here, but I have two more points.

First, Some of you are entrepreneurs. You might get your face time with a VC because of a letter, email, or other introduction that you send, but when you’re in front of the VC, talking about a number in front of a bunch of zeroes, you better be selling.

Second, Marketing, stop worrying. Sales people will never make you obsolete because most would rather answer the phone than make a cold call. Do a mass mailing than knock on a door. Blame marketing than take responsibility. Strong Salespeople, don’t start worrying. Make your calls. Work your networks. Do your deals. Recognize that you can make marketing look good by doing your job and the only opinion that matters to you is yours. Weak salespeople, continue worrying, get fixed, or get a job in marketing. Uh-Oh, Pete!

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3 thoughts on “Dave Kurlan and Jim Huston

  1. Hi Rick, I attempted to leave this comment on your Jim Huston/Dave Kurlan post but it wouldn’t take: You nailed it Rick. This is a better example than I could have hoped to come up with. Dave KurlanAuthor of Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball. Objective Management Group, Inc.114 Turnpike Rd.Suite 102Westborough, MA. 0158100 + 1 + 508-366-6200 800-221-6337 dave@objectivemanagement.com http://www.objectivemanagement.com Understanding the Sales Force The World of Sales and Selling

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