Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Your whining sales person is living in my house

A friend was recently complaining to me about their woes of selling products to corporate IT departments - knowing that I can relate to their pain from a previous life. He's sure the people working at the target company would love their product - in fact they've told him, but he can't convince the corporate IT guys. This is no surprise, given that the IT guys are in the business of risk aversion as a priority over innovation or risk taking - even if there is a huge potential gain in productivity or revenue or whatever... (I'm not sayin' that's right, I'm just sayin' that's how many corporate IT groups operate)... So.. my friend's product continues to grow (albeit slowly) by appealing directly to the people working in operational jobs within the company... under the radar of their IT group.

We've seen many products succeed by being offered directly to the end customers rather than those in charge of purchasing - either by chance (the end customers find it and fall in love with it) or by design (the product is targeted to the end customer directly as a sales method to get around those in charge)... then the end-customers sell the product to their guardians from within - they become moles.

So it struck me that kids are probably the most powerful moles - little sales people living amongst us... How else could you sell sneakers with concealed wheels in the soles - you can't market those to sane parents directly (apologies to the 95% of my parent-friends who have purchased these). But when a kid whines for a few months about getting this seemingly insane product - the parent has about one choice to stop the whining - and that sells product. Drug companies selling perscription drugs directly to the public, inject every doctors office with whining patients who suddenly start requesting certain drugs... TV Show producers get their target audience to sell their product when they "ask their cable company to add the Freak-of-the-Week-Channel" (they probably bought ads on Desparate Housewives for that specific show).

Who is your end customer? Are they whining enough to sell your product for you? Just be forewarned - if I ever get a hold of the people who put candy bars in supermarket checkout lanes, I'll lock them in a room with my kids for a few hours during a good sugar high from their fabulous, artificially flavored food-stuff.. and I'll leave them there during the post-sugar-high crash too...

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