Wow! Complex Sale time. Just when you thought nothing would ever happen about this again...
The next subject in the lifecycle of the complex sale is finding the likely customers. Makes sense really, if you want to sell something, find someone who wants to buy it. However, much that is obvious is not always enacted. I had a job selling advertising space pretty soon after leaving University. Now, I had no idea that no matter how they dressed it up in the adverts, and the fact that it was called a graduate training scheme, it was basically a telesales sweatshop, that let you out after a bare minimum of training, and because of the exceptional cheapness with which they snared us in with the promise of a free lifestyle with every job, it must have been cost effective. "But it's advertising, darling!"
(Free lifestyle with every job is a Gaping Void phrase, and its what I call the "I work at the BBC" phenomenon. I have known a few film and TV producers over the years, and they are all desperate free-lancers, either working very very hard on their current project, or working very, very hard on getting the next one, and most of their conversation is monotone grunting about what a miserable place the world is, interspersed with lots of beer sipping and smoking of roll-ups. Then you meet people at social gatherings who swan about saying "I work at the BBC!" inevitably, in contrast to their hard-bitten cousins the producers, the people who work at the BBC are very poorly paid, and often nothing whatsoever to do with the process of program production, e.g. administration, human resources, etc. To make up for the fact that they have a not very interesting job that doesn't pay well, they get to say, "I work at the BBC!" Free lifestyle with every job.)
Right, so I am let loose with the following tools of the trade: one telephone, a jobbie brown BT standard Viscount usually, and a number of boxes of scabby cards that are full of customer contect details. And I get to sit near a window, which in summer in a Georgian era building in London is a big perk. (Now, I know, everyone out this there is going - Wow! Cluelessness! Some people work things out from first principles, for me at 22, this was a bitter experience approach to the problem.)
So, what do I do? I start, God help me, at the beginning of the box, and I start calling through to the back of the box. (Duration, about 10 weeks.) I do not even have a notion of which of the cards in this box have been spoken to last, and I keep my on notes on when to call anyone promising in my diary, which given that the punter who had this seat and box before me has gone and taken the diary they used with them, I have no idea when anyone before showed any interest. Each card has a bunch of cryptical dated and scribbled comments, like "WCMB" or Will Call Me Back, which is the telesales equivalent of being told to go take a long hike off a short plank.
In other words, I had no idea of really what I was selling, who might be interested, at least in theory, who the main players in that theoretical market would be, who the current players in these organisations would be, who the other competitors were other than a brief run through a couple of other titles in the same space from different publishers, and when they might be interested in buying, such as for industry events, awards, etc. Targetted activity, it was not.
All I can say is that the margins on the empty pages must have been high, and in retrospect, we must have been cheaper than I realised, if this random process was commercially viable. And indeed this would all have been computerised by now, in CRM systems, which is the same process, but instantaneous rather than hand-written cluelessness. What is missing is the question that is most important: "What are we selling, and therefore where will I find a likely customer for what I do?"
Seems obvious, but most sales people that I know, with few exception, do the big grown up version of arriving at the desk and starting to call through the box of cards. It's even called a territory, or an account, just to make sure that there are boundaries in place. So having talked about the way not to look for customers, next I'll talk about just how would you do so?