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There are right and wrong ways to go about marketing, and the pitfalls are many. A lot can be learned by seeing how not to manage your marketing. This original blog series weaves together an entertaining story that will help you navigate 21st-Century marketing with a view from “the dark side,” as “Screwtape” teaches his apprentice “Wormwood” via email how to sabotage your marketing. Enjoy…

To: Wormwood

From: Screwtape

Subject: How NOT to Sell

My Dear Wormwood,

There is a way that seems right to a salesperson, but in the end it leads to the death of the sale. The art of selling is critical to the success of any and every business, which is why you must work hard to ensure your Patient’s selling is done wrong.

So here, my apprentice, are some points on how NOT to sell!

  • Use the “power of persuasion.” Trying to persuade someone to buy your product or service usually means you are spending valuable time with someone who’s not very interested. It’s much better to spend one’s effort qualifying or disqualifying a prospect (something we don’t want the Patient to know), and then moving on quickly if it becomes apparent that a prospect isn’t a good fit.
  • Sound like a salesperson. This is the best way to get hung up on or walked away from. Yes, it’s deceptively comfortable to use that sales voice so many others are using, but only for the salesperson. The best way to engage a prospect is to be genuine, as if talking to a friend or colleague. These days, people respond to realness and shun smooth talk.
  • Pump up the enthusiasm! If you’re excited about your product or service, the prospect will be too…or not. Getting zealous can come across as disingenuous and frighten people away. I mean, really…how excited can you actually get about getting your teeth cleaned or buying software? In actuality, more people respond to a more measured and realistic approach.
  • Pitch, pitch, pitch! But only if you want to be ignored. The truth is, your prospects don’t care about your product or service, they care about what you can DO for them. What problems can you solve? How can you make their life more enjoyable or pleasant? They don’t care that you’re now using the latest X35 bug spray, they care that you’re giving them peace of mind by ensuring those carpenter ants aren’t eating the frame of their house!
  • Target everyone. You’re not going to sell to everyone, only to those who actually want or need what you’re offering. Maybe you’re a good enough salesperson to sell air conditioning to an Eskimo, but that doesn’t mean you should try. Truly good sales people target their sales to the most likely audiences and focus on those likely to buy without too much persuasion.

By all means, push these outdated sales techniques, my ward, and you will succeed in sabotaging the Patient’s selling efforts. Fail, and you will have problems of your own to deal with that I would not envy.

Your affectionate Uncle,


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