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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: Old School Pitching

My dear Wormwood,

In your glorious mission to sabotage the plans of the business owner, whom we are calling the “Patient,” let us focus on sales. Sales and marketing are the lifeblood of any company, and the greatest threats to your success (I need not remind you that you are being watched, and failure on your part has consequences). Let us discuss, then, the art of “closing the deal.”

By all means, fill your Patient’s head with all sorts of outdated sales principles. You might be surprised to know that many sales trainers are still teaching old-school sales techniques, dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Tired, regurgitated and woefully out of date, these can be powerful tools in our hands! Convince the Patient that what worked yesterday will work today.

I must emphasize that you must not allow the Patient to awaken to the fact that today’s consumer is much too sophisticated to fall for “push” sales techniques. Back in the day, companies spoon-fed their brand to the masses, shaping their thinking and perceptions. With online reviews, social media discussions and other information available today, consumers largely define brands. As author and marketing consultant Faris Yakob writes, mass media has given way to “the media of the masses.” Today’s sales prospect comes into the pipeline armed with a knowledge of what they want and don’t want, and they don’t want to be sold.

We can use this reality to our advantage. Have the Patient focus on “pitching” their product. Convince him that prospects actually care about his product or service, rather than the problems he can help them solve. If the Patient peddles the wonderful features of his offerings, we’ve got him right where we want him—but be sure he gets just enough lukewarm response from this to feed the delusion that this approach will pay off in time. (In this case, we can use the “Power of Positive Thinking” to our advantage.)

Under no circumstances can you allow the patient to begin with a customer-focused approach! If the Patient asks effective questions about the needs and frustrations of the prospect, our Cause may be lost (and you will be held responsible, my dear Wormwood, so let’s just not go there).

Yet, there may be a way to salvage even this disaster by transitioning the Patient from customer focus to persuasion—and this is what I will cover in my next training email. The so-called “power of persuasion” can kill a sale faster than a moth flying into a flame (an apropos metaphor for you, if you should fail us.)

Your affectionate uncle,


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