Sales Begat Advertising

In the beginning businesses sold things face to face and they learnt a lot about it. My first job was in sales so I witnessed it myself. Sales people were trained in; open questioning, focussing on benefits, handling objections and then most importantly closing the deal. And closing the deal was all important. Many were successful simply by shear force of personality, refusing to leave a meeting until the deal was done.

When advertising was born it was often the sales people that took charge of it and they couldn’t help but apply their knowledge from face to face selling to advertising. But this is a mistake.

Advertising can’t handle objections, it can’t argue and it can’t close the deal. It has to persuade in a different way. It has to appeal, to the emotions not just logic: not just benefits and price.

Yet many companies still treat advertising as just another way of selling, like a deaf salesman shouting his sales message to whoever might listen.

Advertising works much harder on the subconscious than the conscious and is at its best when it inspires and entertains. Of course it needs to be relevant but if it can achieve the double whammy of showing off products that make people’s lives ‘better’ in an inspiring way then it is much more likely to succeed.

To go back to my early experience in sales, while there were many who succeeded by closing the deal the top salesman did it by inspiring his customers. They loved him so they bought from him.

Perhaps it’s time that sales learnt from advertising and not the other way around.