Category Archives: Marketing

How not to sell to me

If you want to sell me something do not do any of the following:


Try to link up on LinkedIn when you are clearly a supplier who is trying to drum up business. I can see that you have already been looking at my profile and I can see from yours that you work in marketing/sales.

Do not, as someone did a while ago, show me some interesting software and then say ‘you must be able to find a use for it’. I explained that I could not think of a relevant user case at the moment but that I would obviously bear their software in mind if such a need arose. That did not stop them from haranguing me for a hour about how great their software was and that I should use it. Doh.

It does not impress me by saying as someone really did – ‘use us because we are big’. The logic being that they would not be big if they were not good. Not sure what Plato would make of that logic. No surprise then that did not work with me. The other variant is to quote a sector – we supply all of x sector – usually not the one I am in. So how is that relevant then?

Don’t send my jokey emails about your service which might or might not be relevant when you have clearly got me off a bought in mailing list. Well just don’t send me an email at all. Why is there an unsubscribe option ‘I never signed up for this list’? It’s a give away really. And I definitely do not want emails about Accounting systems, SharePoint or EPOS.

Generally pester me on the phone does not help either. Or use the phrase ‘its just a courtesy call’. Hum, no such thing. Or how about ‘we spoke a while ago’ – when I can definitely remember that we did not.

The other variant is – ‘which software do you use on your website’ – er WordPress – you could probably find that out quite easily if you looked yourself. The next question – ‘what are your plans’. Answer ‘why should I tell you?’ ‘Because I need to know what is happening in the public sector – everyone else tells me’. Well I am not going to. There was a bit of surprise expressed at that. So I was supposed to tell anyone who rang up what I was thinking of doing next. Interesting.


Provide a good service.

Have a service relevant to my needs.

Make sure your existing customers are similar to mine and are willing to have a chat with me.

Handy if you are on G-cloud.

Be willing to invest a bit of time getting to know my organisation and how you might be able to help us.

Be friendly and provide advice with no expectation of an immediate return.

I just had to share. My list of Don’ts could be a lot longer – a part two might follow.


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What if we were selling knowledge?

Pretty well my favourite blog post is where I asked what would you do differently if you got a ÂŁ1 every time someone downloaded the pdf of your report. Quite a lot I expect.

As they say in behaviour change circles, the ‘nudge’ would be a strong elbow in the ribs.

But what are we actually selling? My glib response is NAO knowledge and insights which I think is true unless I am missing something?

So what if we got hold of a salesman on commission and asked for his advice on selling NAO reports what do you think they would say?

‘Well sir, not too keen on your current packaging, that PDF format is a bit old hat. You could think about and ‘easy open’ format (full text) or a bit more eye catching (snazzy graphics) to draw in the punters.’

‘I do not mean to be rude but I really am not clear what you are doing with press notices. We use them to announce a new product, then the product landing page describes what the product is about and encourages users by a call to action – you know ‘buy now or add to shopping cart’. Whereas you have the press notice on the landing page but do not say anything about the product and how it will benefit the user – odd’.

‘I think you are missing another trick as Amazon have a ‘I just bought the latest Dan Brown’ why not have a ‘I just downloaded the NAO HS2 report?’

‘Do you get the idea sir?’ Possibly some nodding of heads takes place…

I suspect he (or her) would then say ‘of course these are just the obvious points, for a percentage of future sales I could give you my really good ideas, my retainer is quite modest’.

Anyone want to club together for that retainer?

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