How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
A lesson in sales from... Henry Ford
Guest articles > A lesson in sales from... Henry Ford
by: Neil Shorney
This article in the “A lesson in sales from...” series comes from a true sales master - Henry Ford, the man famously quoted as offering his Model “T” car as follows:
“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”
No, this isn’t the sales lesson from Mr Ford, as I doubt it applies to many sales roles today, with the possible exception of laptops! It doesn’t, for example, apply to a training course or a conference. However, the man was a genius and a record breaker in automotive sales. Mr Ford is also quoted as saying:
“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one”
Now this is something from which we can learn.
Now some of us have a problem here: what if our product is genuinely bad? Simply answer - find a job with a good product, because you’ll never make a good, ethical salesperson selling a genuinely poor product. And a worse case - what if you have a generally good range of products, with one or two runts in there too? This can be a disaster, because the customers who start off buying the poor product will assume that everything else is of similar quality and you’ve instantly lost a potential long-term customer to the competition. If this is you, do something about that poor product, if you are in a position to do so, and quickly, or you’ll start on the long slippery slope.
However, to those of us with a good product, then this quote rings true - the market is unlikely to become flooded with it, because there’ll always be people who want it. Take, for example, the iPod - the market may be flooded by poor imitations of the iPod, but not by iPods themselves - people will always want these because they are the market leader, and if you work for a market leader then you’re in a very fortunate position and your job is a lot easier!
The problem many salespeople have, though, is that they either don’t work for the market leader, or there is no recognised leader in their field at all, yet they have a good product. It’s here that the salesperson needs to make the difference to build a customer base of loyal, returning customers. The job is a little harder if the market is flooded by poor quality products similar to yours, because as with most things in sales, it’s not about the product itself, but about the perception of the product - it’s about how the salesperson presents the product to the customer, and the service they give. So, if you’re in this position, what can you do?
Neil Shorney manages a sales team at ESI International, the world's largest project management training company, and has over 15 years of international sales, management, and strategic experience in diverse industries including hospitality, energy, IT & telecommunications, project management, and business analysis. He also manages the sales website: www.nsales.co.uk.
Contributor: Neil Shorney
Published here on: 9-May-10