The Truth Will Set You Free

"If I did that, then who would buy it?" Manuel asked with a hint of defiance.

We are sitting in my office and discussing advertising sales.  Manuel had just come in to announce that one of his clients had cancelled the remainder of their contract because "no one had called."

I said, "Why did they expect someone to call?"

Manuel replied, "Because when a client buys advertising from us they expect their phone to ring."

"But, should they?" I wondered.

"Of course they should," Manuel retorted "otherwise what would be the point in spending the money?" 

He didn't wait for an answer as he launched into his argument:

"When a client buys advertising from us or anyone else, they expect immediate, direct, trackable leads," he lectured.  "They expect a measurable return on their investment."

"Don't forget cheap," I offered.

"Excuse me?"

"I was just adding to your list.  A client expects immediate, direct, quantifiable, trackable and cheap leads."

"Right.  Exactly.  Now, you're making my points for me," Manuel agreed.

"Look, Manuel, I don't want to argue with you but let's take a step back for just a second.  Your client is a local muffler and brake shop.  They compete with the big boys of auto care like Meineke and Midas.  You would concede and I'm sure the owner would, too, that those other guys are much more visible and well known than he is, right?"

"Right," Manuel agreed.

"So, let's think about the process a consumer goes through when it comes time to make a decision about which muffler and brake shop to use.  Let's say some guy named Gilroy who's driving a Honda Accord loses a muffler on the boulevard on his way to work.  Or some women named Freta in a Camry notices her brakes are squeaky as she pulls out of the doctor's office."


"Work with me, Manuel.  Okay, so Gilroy and Freta both have themselves a situation, right, and they are in need of the kind of auto repair that our client provides.  What is the process they will use to decide where to take their car?"

"Okay, I'll play along.  If they don't already have a place in mind they might call friends or family for a recommendation.  If they don't do that, then they'll go to the internet and do a search."

"Right.  Now, let me ask you this.  Is it very likely that they already have our client in mind?

"No.  Not really.  He only has the one location so I doubt if a lot of people know the name of his shop."

Is it very likely that their friends or family will mention our client or is it far more likely they'll mention the brands that are well known?"

"They are more likely to mention the well known brands."

"Okay, now assuming Gilroy and Freta don't reach their friends or family and do an internet search they are going to be provided with a list of names.  How are they going to choose which names to call first?"

"They are probably going to call the names with which they are most familiar."

"So, before our client has a chance at this customer both Meineke and Midas are going to get a shot?"

"That's what seems likely," Manuel sighed.

"Alright, so Gilroy and Freta, both of whom have a specific situation that has caused them to seek a provider of our client's services are very unlikely to give our guy a call because they are more likely to end up at one of the big boys' establishments."


"But, those consumers with an existing situation aren't the only ones we reach, right?  We also reach those consumers who are going to have a situation in the future.  Let's take the case of someone who has no need of car repair.  We expose that person to our client through his advertising.  Is that person going to call our client?"

"Why would that person call a service shop if they don't need service?"

"I'm asking you, Manuel.  Will the person who is going to need service sometime in the unknown future going to call our client after being exposed to their advertising?"

"That doesn't seem likely."

"Okay.  So, here's the picture you've painted for me.  The consumer with an immediate need isn't likely to call our guy because they don't think of him when the situation occurs and they call the names with which they are familiar when they do a search.  AND, the person that is going to have a situation in the future doesn't call our guy because people with no need of car repair don't make a habit of calling car repair shops just because those shops are advertising.  Do I have it right?"

"Yeah, you've got it right.  What you're saying is that I should have had this conversation with our client before taking his money?"

"Of course.  You should have this conversation before taking any client's money.  It's up to you, as a leader in your industry, to set the correct expectations of our product."

"If I did that, then who would buy it?" Manuel asked with a hint of defiance.

"Who would buy it?  I hope that's a rhetorical question, Manuel.  The person who would buy it is a business owner who expects to be in business for the next thirty years and then pass their business down to the next generation.  The person who would buy it is one that understands the investment they make in their business doesn't stop when they open their doors for the first time.  The person who would buy advertising is one who understands that consumers have choices and that in order to be chosen he must be known for something and that something begins with an advertising message.  The person who would buy advertising from you is someone who values your expertise because they know it's necessary to surround themselves with experts in every field if they have any chance of succeeding in a competitive business environment."

"That makes sense but those people are hard to find," Manuel said softly.

"But, Manuel, that's why we have you.  You're smart and capable and good with people.  You're honest and you work hard.  Those business owners aren't going to call us.  We have to go find them.  You have to go find them, Manuel.  Can you do that?  Can you find them?"

Manuel looked up at me and a steely glint shone in his eyes.  

"Yes.  I can do that," he said.

And, he walked out the door and did just that.


What did you think of this article?

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  • 11/12/2012 11:08 PM Joel Pinto wrote:
    What an extraordinary way to help people understanding core concepts about business: branding, visibility, top of mind and return on investment.

    Loved it
    Reply to this
  • 11/13/2012 7:49 AM tracey wrote:

    Great way to get the point across. Do you have other examples regarding the selling process?



    Of course!  Go back through the archives and you'll find plenty of articles about the selling process.

    Reply to this
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