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