My wife and I returned to New York in July from a three-week trip to Jordan and Turkey.
So much about the trip was memorable: Petra, Istanbul, the boat traffic on the Bosphorus, a sunrise balloon ride in Cappadocia, dondurma (Turkish ice cream), and, of course, Turkish Delight – a chewy confection.
But because I’m a media salesaholic (and it is an addiction), I paid particular attention to the way people tried to sell me stuff, especially in Istanbul.
Turkey has between 30 and 32 million tourists a year, most of whom wind up in Istanbul and most of whom are buyers of stuff – rugs, trinkets, clothes or meals. With 32 million potential buyers wandering around, you’d expect a lot of sellers.
And a lot of sellers there are, and their focus is entirely on meeting their own needs – parting you from your money. It’s me-first selling. The concept of delighting customers by anticipating their every want and need hasn’t yet migrated to Turkey or the Middle East. In America, we even have apps, such as Google Now, that delight customers by anticipating their wants and needs.
Apple for a while became the most valuable company in the world by delighting customers with gorgeous design and gee-whiz functionality. Amazon became the biggest online retailer in the world by delighting customers with relevant recommendations and ease of use.
The strategy of many leading-edge corporations has shifted from maximizing shareholder value, which management icon Jack Welch called the “dumbest idea in the world,” (See Steve Denning’scolumns on Forbes.com) to delighting customers first, then worrying about profits.
Selling, too, has been transformed in this era in which the knowledgeable customer is in charge. Such books as Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others and Lisa Earle McLeod’s Selling With Noble Purpose: Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes Your Proud emphasize that selling is serving others, helping others get what they want.
Turkish Delight may be a delicious confection, but it isn’t a sales strategy in Turkey, or in too many U.S. media sales organizations for that matter. TV networks are especially dismissive of the customers’ wants when they sell in the Upfront market. Gouging buyers and allocating inventory based on increasing share of budgets is a greedy, me-first, street-hawker strategy that’s guaranteed not only not to delight customers but also to drive them to programmatic buying, which will eliminate me-first salespeople.
Media sales organizations had better start thinking about delighting customers not as a nice add on – a confection – but as a strategy.
Charlie Warner teaches sales, media ethics, and innovation in the graduate Media ManagementProgram at The New School and is author of Media Selling, 4th Edition. From 1998-2002 he was Vice President of AOL's Interactive Marketing division. Before joining AOL, he was the Goldenson Endowed Professor at the Missouri Journalism School and a highly sought-after media sales and management consultant and trainer. Charlie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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