7 reasons sales isn’t evil plus 1 bonus reason

(Image courtesy Gerard Stolk via flickr.)

Many regular people have a negative view of the sales and marketing profession. And no wonder. Most of our experience with sales is negative — intrusive telemarketing calls, annoying commercials, rude clerks.

It’s no surprise that many beginning entrepreneurs think of sales as either unnecessary — “If someone wants something, they’ll find it and buy it.” — or out-and-out evil.

And when they have to do sales, or hire someone to do sales, they either do nothing, or do evil, or go back and forth between the two. Either option is bad for the business.

If you’re starting up a grid, a hosting company, or a virtual worlds consulting firm, here are some reasons why sales isn’t evil.  And, next time you’re avoiding your sales and marketing duties, or over-promising to potential customers, remind yourself of the following:

1. Sales is the most important part of business

Without a sale, nothing happens.

2. Sales means your company gets to do its thing

Whether you’re hosting, consulting, designing, or creating products, without sales, there’s no point in doing anything. Even if you’re a non-profit, offering goods and services to people for free, you still have to convince them to take it. Seeing people using and enjoying your work is a reward in and of itself.

3. Sales means your customers get stuff they want

Sure, without sales, customers get to keep their money. But money is just pieces of paper, or numbers on a bank account. The customer would rather have your goods and services, and can’t get them until you make the sale.

In person, by email, by phone, online — whatever the mechanism, you have to make the sale in order for the customers to get their stuff.

Without being able to trade it for goods and services, money is worthless.

4. Sales means you and your staff get paid

Whether they get paid in cold, hard cash, in virtual currency, or in good will, without sales, you and your staff don’t get anything. In particular, if you are a commercial enterprise, sales revenues allows your employees to pay for food and shelter for their families, and maybe save up for a rainy day.

5. Sales means your vendors get paid

If you’re selling grid hosting, then you’re probably renting servers from a data center. Your success helps contribute to their success. And you probably have other vendors as well — Internet service providers, the telephone company, the office supply store.

6. Sales means that taxes get paid

Okay, maybe this isn’t a big motivator for you. But me, personally? I  like knowing that I’m helping contribute my share towards roads, schools, police and fire protection, public parks, a social safety net for the vulnerable, and, on the rare occasions when the government gets foreign policy right, towards making the world a safer place.

I’m not saying I love paying taxes, or that I like to pay extra. But you never know when you’re going to need those potholes fixed, a mass murderer caught, or temporary financial assistance if your life suddenly falls apart.

7. Sales encourages competition

Maybe you didn’t start your company with the goal of encouraging competitors to get into the space.

But think of the bigger picture here. Your success is proof that there’s a market for virtual goods and services. When competitors enter the space, they also bring new marketing ideas, new customer segments, and help grow the industry as a whole. And the more success stories potential customer hear about, the more likely they are to try out virtual platforms.

Bonus reason: Sales of virtual goods and services reduce demand for physical goods

When I download a video for $7, that’s $7 less that I’m spending on a physical DVD, which means that a physical D D doesn’t have to be manufactured, shipped, and then dumped into a landfill when I’m done with it. The same applies to digital music downloads and e-books.

And these are huge industries — but only the tip of the iceberg.

If I replace physical meetings with virtual meetings, I’m replacing physical travel with virtual teleports. I’m replacing business suits with virtual clothing. I’m reducing the need for hotel rooms, airport taxis, slide projectors, water bottles, and stacks of glossy brochures.

Now add in virtual training, virtual classrooms, virtual fashion, virtual therapy, virtual socializing, and the total impact starts to multiply.

And that’s just the beginning.

Consider shoe shopping. I’m not admitting to anything here, but say, for illustrative purposes, that buying new shoes makes me feel good. Visiting different stores, trying them on, buying them and bringing them home.

Already today, i can replace this to a small degree with virtual shopping. I still get to visit different stores, try on different shoes and see how they look with different items, then buy them and bring them home. Then I can wear them out to virtual parties or business meetings. I save money, save gas, and still get that sweet shopping high that I was going for. I mean, hypothetically.

In a world where more and more of our activities are virtual, we will be able to downsize our physical possessions and replace them with virtual ones, just like we’re already doing with music, books, and movies. We can grow the economy and create new jobs, without putting more strain on our planet.

Next time: How to sell without being evil

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

9 Responses

  1. sargemisfit@gmail.com' Sarge Misfit says:

    There’s also the “feel good” of knowing that people appreciate your goods enough to give you their hard earned cash

  2. me@timothyfrancisrogers.me' hack13 says:

    The first time I started a grid, I charged way to cheap. That was one of issues why I strugged with Cyber Wrld, however now with Zetamex and AuroraScape. I watch my competition, I look at costs, and figure how can I be affordable. I learned the hard way NEVER BE CHEAP BE AFFORDABLE!

    Since running SoftPaw Estates, I set myself up financially to make the move i wanted to help maybe make me real money in the future. Enough to really make a decently living, right now I make enough to live, and make ends meet barely sometimes, but that is why I am married :3 my husband helps me out when I fall short. I learned a lot running SoftPaw Estates, and now as Zetamex, I am ready and have prepared myself for this. AuroraScape as well.

  3. trrlynn73@gmail.com' Minethere says:

    There is also a negative side issue of the competition not liking your success, and the tactics involved there. This must be considered in an overall marketing effort. How to be prepared as best as possible, but also forge ahead being successful.

    • I had a friend once who started a company, but didn’t want to be too successful because he didn’t want to take money away from other people. His competitors, I assume.

      Two answers to that:

      First, if you’re better than your competition, and people want to buy from you, why make them settle for an inferior product by sabotaging your own sales? That’s crazy talk.

      Second, the size of the pie is not fixed in stone. It’s a growing pie. And the more people there are helping grow the pie, the faster the pie will grow. OpenSim vendors who think they are competing with one another: you’re not. You’re competing against other technologies. Each time a vendor brings a new customer to immersive technology, that’s one more customer for the entire ecosystem. Someone who rents land from one vendor may also rent land from a second vendor for a different project, buy virtual goods from virtual world merchants, hire designers and developers.

      This isn’t a zero-sum game. And the faster the technology evolves, the faster services improve, the quicker we get to the tipping point where it starts to really take off.

      • trrlynn73@gmail.com' Minethere says:

        Oh I do agree that, for the most part, “the pie is not fixed in stone”. However, there are degrees of that. And there is rl comparisons one can make but also the idiosyncrasies of virtual sales.

        I do believe that marketing is essential, and it does work…one cannot simply sit back and expect to get customers…whether this is done by signs on real highways or notices in virtual groups, the message needs to be delivered.

        There are some limitations, however. In real, it is the marketing budget, and to some degree that is also the case in virtuals, but much less so. Marketing can be done for free in many ways in virtual life.

        The limitations and issues with virtuals are that one must either succumb to favoritism by the few who hold the groups authorities, or find ways to cut the purse strings.

        This is problematic and I know ppl whop are otherwise good ppl who will curry favors in order to promote their own marketing efforts. I do not agree with this and know there are ways to get around this. Personal networking is VERY important.

        As well, the pie is somewhat limited in, for example, closed commercial grids, where competition can be fierce and who you know is very important. Only the very lucky few make any kind of real money and most simply wish they could.

        For those lucky few who simply do it for fun and their commercial interests are not necessary, but a nice way to pass the time, that is nice too-))

        • Part of the sales and marketing process is market analysis. If the pie is small and crowded, with a lot of weight given to established personal connections, then you should either find a different pie, or offer something unique or innovative.

          Remember that doing the same thing that everyone else is doing never works. First, the incumbents always have the home-field advantage — they have the networks, the connections, the customer relationships already in place. If you just do what they do, you’re not going to make an impact.

          Second, never try to build a commercial business by competing with people doing it for free. For example, you don’t want to go into the LOL Cat photo business given the millions of free LOL Cats available on the web. However, you can work WITH people doing it for free. Say, by licensing the best LOL Cat pics and creating LOL Cat calendars. (I’m not going to suggest any virtual world equivalents of this, leaving this as an exercise to do at home.)

          Third, consider bringing your market with you. Say you make a very specific kind of role playing accessories, but the role playing community on the target grid is very small. Find a way to bring in outside role playing communities — from RL, WoW and other games, SL, email lists, what have you. As a bonus, if you are successful, you will become the grid owners’ new best friend, and can probably negotiate very favorable terms from them.

          Fourth, consider the business-to-business market. It always surprises me — though I guess it shouldn’t — that folks always think of retail first. Retail is super competitive, the margins are super thin, it moves very quickly. The B2B market is way less competitive, moves much more slowly, and you can make as much in a single sale as you do in your entire retail career. Sure, getting one B2B sale is way harder than getting one B2C sale — but much, much easier, than getting the equivalent hundred or thousand B2C sales.

          • trrlynn73@gmail.com' Minethere says:

            “Part of the sales and marketing process is market analysis. If the pie is small and crowded, with a lot of weight given to established personal connections, then you should either find a different pie, or offer something unique or innovative”

            Agreed. As an example, what I was known for almost a year ago [and for a couple of years prior] on a grid was doing group notices that “caught the eye”..in other words, they were never typical, always different, sometimes amusing [sometimes just only amusing me, but i digress], never in all CAPS yelling at folx as is often seen, and always talking up different selling points for whatever i was hawking. Unique, and to this day, those few left who remember them and those even less who comment on them to me, recalll them well [this would be in the neighborhood of 1 or 2 anymore..lol]

            The point being that often people keep telling the same old story over and over again, and it bores people to death. In most cases there is much more to something that can be talked about in different ways that then also give the benefit of of appealing to a more diverse and larger audience.

            “First, the incumbents always have the home-field advantage”

            Very, Very true. This is in fact a serious issue for those new to sl but who do in fact have a good product…how do they break into the Markets….and as well, with all smaller grids…

            And I agree with the B2B sales, more time spent to close the deal but a much larger take home-))

            I used to be in Real Estate in real life and this is seen in those different aspects of that business. The “retail” comsumers for homes is the bread and butter while the B2B commercial sales make the big bucks. As well, another aspect was the Homeowner Associations Management, another B2B.

            I think a nice mixture is optimum if it can be found and nurished. Dealing with the more B2B aspect, however, requires a different level of awareness, imo.

  4. arpholdings@gmail.com' AviWorlds says:

    Ahhh..yes..competitiveness…I love it! I see it as huge ocean full of fish! You can do anything you want but be careful! You dont want to drown! Even oceans have rules that if you dont follow the waves can get big enough and kill you…
    So yes…. it is a truth and also a necessity! SALES….Now you dont want to talk about world domination do you? And yes if you create a business that has COMPETITORs you must do everything possible to achieve YOUR SUCCESS and your competitors fall from grace! Unless your business is unique and you are the only one doing it! and yes eventually someone will copy you and try hard to make you fall from grace!

  5. Ener Hax says:

    *collects zero dollars for SoaS*

    BUT this is true: “Seeing people using and enjoying your work is a reward in and of itself.”