Selling Out on Honesty

I was recently asked (via my publicist) by the editor at SellingPower.com to do a six to eight hundred word blog post that focused on salespeople. Or something of that ilk. After penning the submission below, they passed. Since the bulk of the post is about honesty in selling, and they didn’t care for it, I’ll have to roll with the assumption that it’s a concept too dreadfully boring to engage anyone–and that ultimately they were hoping I’d write some op-ed piece about how abusing alcohol had made me an incredible force to be reckoned with in the world of marketing. Or maybe, just maybe, when it comes to writing something of a semi-serious nature–something that doesn’t revolve around the umpteen ways I might die today–I’m just not a very good writer. Or, and what I’ve chosen to believe, is that they aren’t fans of honesty–maybe there is no place for it in the world of movers and shakers. I doubt that’s why they passed, but believing it to be the reason certainly helped put myself at ease with the rejection. Either way, seems a pity for the message to go nowhere. And so, I present to you my dear readers the blog post SellingPower.com decided wasn’t right for them. Enjoy.

An Honest Pitch by Peter Rosch

Full disclosure: I am writing this blog post in the hopes of selling a few more copies of my debut novel, My Dead Friend Sarah.

Honesty is my policy, and I’m of the opinion that at the end of the day, honesty is paramount to successful selling. Honesty doesn’t mean unsexy, unfunny, un-almost-anything for that matter. It simply is the basis for how I attempt to begin all my communication crafting about the goods, services, and other can’t-live-withouts companies pay me to hock. I am selling for a living, but as a consumer I try to remain suspicious of my motives.

What have I sold? Countless pairs of jeans, numerous brands of beer, electronic gadgets, deodorant, soaps, treats, eats, services and even personalities. Sixteen years as an awarding winning creative cog in the global marketing machine–as a writer, art director, strategist, creative director, and brand visionary–have me feeling just qualified enough to share my beliefs regarding convincing people to part with their hard-earned dollars. My most recent creation? Unilever’s AXE Susan Glenn campaign out of Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York.

I consider myself a living breathing contradiction. A man hell-bent on influencing the masses towards purchases they hadn’t considered, who himself rarely puts his own money on the table for many of those very same items and services. As a marketer I’m ferocious; as a consumer I’m beyond cautious.

“Question everything. Trust no one.” These words are permanently inked just below my left shoulder, and while the tattoo’s origin isn’t specific to transactions involving my money, right or wrong, it does serve as a guiding principal in my purchasing patterns. Agendas are everywhere, and now, more than ever, the infinite number of marketers, big and small, who shout at me daily in their efforts to take my time, money, and perhaps a little bit of my sanity, is mind-boggling. And I believe I’m being honest when I say to you, many of them are out and out lying to me.

Can I also honestly say that in all my time as an advertising creative that I’ve never bent the truth on a single project in order to woo a consumer? No. But, I will tell you that my most successful efforts, across a colorful spectrum of brands, have had one glaring thing in common: the messaging was born from a truth. A truth inherent to the product and its benefit to the consumer, or a truth that is inherent to the way people choose to use and live with a brand, product, or service.

It makes sense doesn’t it? Who among us wants to be lied to? I don’t enjoy it, and, like you, I have a great disdain for anyone who wastes my time. And if you are lying to me in an effort to grab my attention by making too-good-to-be-true claims that prey on my insecurities as a methodology to a quick buck, you are, in fact, wasting my time. And I am fully vested in the belief that even if you do successfully trick me and others from time to time, eventually that ill-conceived kernel in your sales pitch will come back to bite you on the ass.

I don’t buy or use everything I sell, and I don’t believe I have to think something is perfect for me in order to shill it to others. But for this salesman, it is increasingly important that what I’m saying about the items I’m trying to move be deeply rooted in a truth for the customer and target looking to benefit from their various uses. The golden rule is golden for a reason. Sell to others the way you’d have someone sell to you. It might just be that simple.

Advertisements