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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The larger vision:

Last night, I watched Glengarry Glen Ross, a classic (for anyone interested in construction and real estate sales) movie which plays on the stereotypes and attitudes of hard-rock sales representatives of the old style: The 'closers' who will manipulate, cajole, trick, cheat, do whatever needs to be done to get a sale.

On Tuesday, I'm heading to Columbus, Ohio, to visit with canvassing consultant Joseph Needham as he shows a reputable local roofing company how to organize door-to-door canvassing projects.

Readers here know how much I personally abhor blatant, in your face, and intrusive marketing like canvassing and telemarketing; and how the stereotypical sales attitudes of Glengarry Glen Ross are far from my value systems.

Then why do I spend time watching videos like Glengarry Glen Ross, and more significantly, why am I ready to spend several hundred dollars on plane fares, hotel, and rental car services to see door-to-door canvassing training in action?

The answer is simple: If the goal here is to provide Construction Marketing Ideas, then preconceptions and personal prejudices must take second-place to learning and recognizing that alternative approaches to marketing have value and utility, and can be effective in different circumstances.

The question is, can these 'harder' approaches to marketing be integrated within the softer, brand-focused approach -- based on referral and repeat business relationships -- that I advocate? Or will the decision to use assertive marketing strategies threaten or destroy your well-established brand and reputation?

I believe the answer is you can use both styles, provided you are careful and practice some simple segmentation.

As an example, I'm working now with a traditional (and very successful) salesperson who guns for the close. He isn't quite as blatant as the guys in the Glengarry Glen Ross video, but certainly takes a transactional approach to his business.

So, I wasn't surprised that it took him only a day after I clued him in on a well-developed personal relationship that he initiated communication with this well-connected individual, presumably to draw out leads and make some sales. Sensing the potential damage this could cause to the relationship, founded on giving, sharing and mutual respect, I phoned my contact and gave him a heads up about the sales rep, suggesting he be cautious in sharing leads and personal references just yet.

But I certainly am not closing the door to the new representative's initiative -- in fact, we are paying several hundred dollars for leads which would work well with his style of selling: The difference is these leads are based on commercial data, not personal relationships. He can go to bat for our business with these leads without damaging established relationships, and bring in truly worthy sales (and cash) for both himself and the business as a result.

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