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Guide to Sales and Marketing: 15 steps towards a better sales strategy

Marketing, traditional media and social media, branding and building client loyalty are all part of building an effective approach to sales

Jan 28, 2012

by Lisa Ricciotti, Michael Ganley and Geoffrey Morgan

Are Canadians the worst salespeople in the world?

Do we fare any better with our marketing skills? A high-powered executive recently transplanted to Edmonton from the U.S. said the biggest challenge she faced in her new position was finding good salespeople. “Canadians are too polite!” she lamented. “They find it hard to directly ask for a sale. I see it everywhere – in stores where I shop as well as in my own staff.”

But is she right? The sales and marketing experts that Alberta Venture talked to had a different interpretation, suggesting that she was probably still in the midst of a cultural transition. Sure, we’re nice about it, but Canadians do know how to sell. Otherwise, we’d never stay in business. The truth of the matter is that the American understanding of salesmanship, one embodied by the image of a glad-handing salesman who could sell bibles to a priest, has little appeal to most Canadians.

Instead, Canadians take a different approach to selling. You’ve probably heard the saying that while nobody likes to be sold, just about everyone loves to buy, and it’s the driving force behind a new concept in sales psychology called “no-sell selling.” It rejects the idea that people buy because you’ve convinced them they need your product. Instead, it builds on the idea that people make buying decisions more often because of their own reasons than those the company might want to give them.

There’s a reason why products like the ShamWow and the Slap Chop tend to sell better south of the border. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter, not to mention a media-savvy generation raised on those tools, everyone from giant corporations to mom-and-pop corner stores is learning that honesty works better than hucksterism when it comes to selling products.

These new media avenues have also changed the marketing game, making it both more inexpensive to get skin in the game and more complicated to figure out if you played your hand well. Anybody can launch a social media campaign and it’s not terribly expensive to update your website, but how do you measure the impact?

“The media and advertising landscape have changed dramatically in the past two decades,” says Geoff Plewes, director of client services with the Calgary-based marketing and ad agency Rare Method. “But the fundamental principles haven’t. There are just a lot of new tools for making sales and opening doors.”

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