Homer Simpson asks, “What is the Role of Selling?”

“Ok Homer,” I said, “We’ve covered the role of marketing and we’ve covered the role of authentic branding. Now it’s time to talk about the role of selling.”

“Go for it!” Homer urged, “I’m all ears!”

“There are five aspects to the role of selling,”
I explained. “And while the first four won’t come as
a surprise, the last one is sure to be a shocker!”

The Role of Selling Is To:

  1. ENGAGE the brand’s target market
  2. LEARN what they NEED or WANT
  3. MATCH what they NEED or WANT with your brand’s benefits
  4. ACTIVATE their desire to buy NOW to resolve problems
    OR to get what they
    NEED/WANT immediately
  5. FOCUS ON…

I paused and looked at Homer. “What’s the fifth aspect of selling?” I asked. “Uh, to make buyers feel good about buying?” He volunteered. “No,” I responded, “That’s pretty much covered by number three. When they buy something that will help them fix a problem – and it does– they’re going to feel good about buying!”  Right!” Homer nodded.

What if You Buy Something that Doesn’t Give You What You Think it Will?

“But what if they buy something that doesn’t do what they think it will?” He probed.  “What happens then?”  “Homer, you’ve just described a classic case of buyer’s remorse,” I said. “It comes in a few variations.  And when the buyer and seller disregard the fifth aspect of selling, buyers’ remorse is pretty much guaranteed.  Do you want to make another guess at number five, Homer?” I invited.

“Nope,” He said, looking perplexed, “I have absolutely no clue on this one.”

The Fifth Aspect of Selling

“The Fifth Aspect of Selling,” I began, “Is to always think
and assess from the perspectives of “performance” and “outcomes.”  Ask yourself:

– “What  problem will this product or service fix?”

“What tangible improvements will it make in their life?”

Number five is all about gathering and reporting…”
I dropped my voice to a whisper, “Performance Intelligence.”

“Whooo Hoo!” Homer whooped,  “Top secret stuff! Is there a code name for number five, like you have for the other four aspects of selling?” He asked. “I need an easier way to remember this one!” “Sure,” I replied. “An easy way to summarize this is to focus on outcomes.”

5. FOCUS ON OUTCOMES to gather and report “Performance Intelligence”

Homer still looked unclear, so I went on. “To maintain accurate insights into a target markets’ needs, desires, challenges and issues, the front line sales people MUST constantly check and recheck their existing assumptions.”

Homer moved forward to the edge of the couch. “Are you telling me that a target market’s needs – and all that other stuff – change over time?” He asked. “I sure am!” I confirmed.

“Just think, Homer, your needs as a father of three are quite different from your needs as a newly married man.” “That’s true!” He confirmed, looking thoughtful.  “And your needs as a newly married man were quite different from your needs as a bachelor. Right?”  “Oh yeah!” Homer admitted, smiling at the thought of his long past days as a bachelor. “I was quite the catch!” He crowed. “I’m sure you were, Homer!” I smiled.

The Performance Intelligence Cycle

“What do they do with all of this “Performance Intelligence” they gather?” He inquired. “Good question” I replied, and went on to clarify.

“Performance Intelligence is gathered by the people doing the front-line selling, then communicated back to the brand managers. The brand managers then work with the brand strategists to apply this new information to refine the brand’s messages so that they continue to be on-point, relevant and appealing to the brand’s target market.”

Time Changes All Needs

“Well, that makes sense!” Homer concluded.  “And that explains why my cable company keeps sending me different offers for bundles of channels.  What I watch HAS changed over time,” He observed. “I have added channels that Marge and Bart and Lisa like too. And I’ve unsubscribed from the ones we don’t like anymore.”

“That’s a great example, Homer.” I applauded. “Can you think of any more?”

How Homer’s Pizza Preferences Evolved Over Time

“Hmmmm.” Homer was silent for a moment.  Then he got excited and said, “Yes! I just thought of one.” “Great!” I  encouraged. “It’s pizza!” He announced.  “When I was a kid, I loved frozen pizza!” “D’you mean the old fashioned kind that you bought at the supermarket that kind of tasted like the cardboard you heated it up on?” I clarified.  “Yup – that’s it!” Homer nodded. “Well, when I started working full time, I stopped buying those and got hooked on delivery pizza.” “Why the change?” I asked.  “Well, at the end of a long day at work, I didn’t want to shop. I just wanted to eat! And with delivery, I could eat AND watch TV.” Homer grinned.

“And do you still prefer that sort of pizza?” I asked. “Sometimes,” Homer admitted, “But I like a lot of different pizzas now.  Plus we go out to Marge’s favorite pizzeria.  We take the kids to Pizza Hut. And we order from a bunch of different pizza delivery places, ‘cuz everyone has their favorites.” He added. “Do you alternate so everyone gets their favorite now and then?” I inquired.

“That’s right,” Homer said, “Oh, and there’s one other thing.” “What’s that?” I asked. “Well, there’s been a change in the pizza toppings I order as well. And the crust thickness.” He said. “I used to like the spicy toppings, but these days, they don’t like me so much.” I nodded sympathetically and said, “That tends to happen as we get older.” “And way back when, there was only one type of pizza crust.” Homer continued. “I remember!” I recalled. “Sometimes I order thin crusts, for a change. So yeah, my pizza needs and preferences have changed a LOT over the years.”

Applied  Performance Intelligence

“That’s a great story that I think everyone can relate to, Homer.” I said. “Now, think back in time and imagine that a really GREAT salesman from the very first pizza delivery company asked you a few questions – with every delivery – about why you ordered certain types of pizzas.  Then his company used what you told  him to add many of the pizzas you said you liked to their delivery menu. Would you have stuck with just that one pizza delivery company?”

“Wow!” Homers eyes opened wide. “As long as their pizzas tasted good, I would.”

I expanded my point. “And what if – when you bought pizza – they also offered you:

  • Related Free Gifts, like sodas, movie tickets, or DVD rentals?
  • Discount Coupons, to save you money on each order?
  • VIP Points that you could use to get every tenth order for free?
  • Referral Rewards for telling your friends about them?
  • Promotional Items, like pizza cutters or special pizza plates?

“Would that sort of attention make you stick with one company?”

“Definitely!” Homer asserted with a broad smile. “Great – so now you’re clear on the role of selling.  Are you ready for a quiz?”

“I am,” he beamed, “And while you’re at it, I think I’ve got everything figured out.  So go ahead and quiz me on the role of marketing as well.  I bet I’ll get an A+ again, just like I did on the Authentic Branding Quiz!