Sunday, December 17, 2006

You have got to love selling

Any entrepreneurial venture requires a deep commitment to selling. Unfortunately, sales was never my forte. In fact, I have always had a distinct and very strong aversion to anything having to do with sales. I suspect this is because I always felt that so many sales and marketing efforts smacked of being borderline or outright manipulation, and to my mind, manipulating a consumer is a truly reprehensible thing to do.

I have no problem with providing information or showing a consumer how they can benefit from a product or service, but to my mind, there is a line between providing information that a consumer voluntarily wants and trying to manipulate the consumer in an involuntary manner.

There are lots of gray areas here, and many people are all too eager and willing to exploit those gray areas, but my inclination is to avoid the gray areas unless it is crystal clear that any "selling" is strictly informative and voluntary in nature, and not manipulative or involuntary in any way.

I think there are far too many people who enjoy the manipulation aspect of selling. My strong suspicion is that real selling can be done without the manipulation, but the evidence strongly suggests that my view is the minority view, or that a lot of sales people are unwilling to label many of their practices as "manipulative."

-- Jack Krupansky

Being in touch with your consumers

One of the reasons that I abandoned my entrepreneurial pursuits is that I didn't feel that I was "in touch" with any potential markets. Now, there is an article in The New York Times by Matt Richtel entitled "From Lips of Children, Tips to Ears of Investors" which reports how even sophisticated and marketing-saavy venture capitalists are resorting to consulting with children, even their own children, before considering investments in the areas of Web 2.0, social networking, and other ventures which might be targeting consumers half or less of the age of the venture capitalists themselves.

In some cases you may be able to hire staff or consultants to clue you in, or take somebody else's word for what is needed to be "in touch", but ultimately you must have some accountability for being "in touch" with your target market.

If I do ever again pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will have done a decent job of identifying a clear target market and verifying that I am "in touch" with that target market. But I don't expect to be in a position to pursue any such opportunities for another five years or more.

-- Jack Krupansky