The correct answer is C because for the Model 3, for instance, Tesla has spent about $6 on advertising for every model it’s sold. How is that possible? The answer is that Tesla leads the way in changing the business model from build / market / sell to market / sell / build and market some more. Tesla does so by having a values-based purpose out ahead of the traditional value proposition, i.e., Tesla aims to rid the world of fossil fuels. That positioning earns Tesla free media and buyer loyalty. And Tesla goes further by inviting consumers to provide input on where its showrooms are located, how they want to configure their own cars based on guidance from an owner advisor, and a referral program with a $1,000 cash incentive to both the owner and the friend who purchases based on a referral. The result is that Tesla has 22% of the electric car market, Mercedes-Benz 5%.
Mathew Sweezey is the Director of Market Strategy for Salesforce. Mathew is the host of the award-winning podcast The Electronic Propaganda Society and an accomplished author, having written for The Economist, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, and AdAge.
Two plays have most defined how we see salespeople. One is shown here, from the original staging on Broadway of Henry Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. There’s rage, but most of all there’s sadness in a drama in which Lee J. Cobb (playing the broken-down salesman Willy Lowman) moans: “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” In vain his wife, played by Mildred Dunnock, tries to comfort him.
What’s the other play? It’s David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Again, rage plays a role but really the key emotion is the fear that gets instilled in a crew of salesmen. From the film adaptation that added the character of Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, here is the movie’s most famous moment: “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see the second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”
Let’s broaden and update the picture. As Daniel H. Pink pointed out in To Sell is Human, we’re all salespeople. Something like 40% of our time on the job is devoted to cajoling—persuading—selling others on what we would like to see happen.
What’s the real key emotion of effective sales nowadays? It’s surprise: eyes-wide-open curiosity. As Colleen Stanley points out in this week’s podcast, a salesperson who’s constantly learning about prospects, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how to better connect with them, including online during Covid-19, is who you actually want to hire. Yes, steak knives are for losers but not in the way Blake meant. Serving up spoonfuls of comfort and hope would be more like it.