Thursday, August 28, 2008

Probably the hardest sales job ever

The VP of Marketing of my old company is an absolute master at analogies. One of my favorites was when he described to me the idea of selling a new product that creates a brand-new niche - often a very difficult task.

He likened it to the first person that had to break ground selling thermometers. Not the "How's the weather" thermometers, I mean the "Do you have a fever thermometers". Surely nowadays these are digital little gizmos, but when they came out they were the old-fashioned mercury based ones.

I can imagine the sales-pitch:

Customer: So, whats it good for?
Salesman: It will tell you your temperature.

Customer: Why do I care about that?
Salesman: Well, then you will know when you have a fever.

Customer: Um. I already know when I have a fever.
Salesman: Yeah, but now you'll be sure.

Customer: Erm.. k.. What's it made of?
Salesman: Glass

Customer: Whats that stuff inside it?
Salesman: Mercury - careful, its toxic.

Customer: How do I use it?
Salesman: You just put it in your butt for 2 minutes.

Customer:
Um. So basically, you want me to take this toxic-substance filled thermo-thing made of breakable glass, stick it and leave it in my butt for 2 minutes so that I'll know something I pretty much already knew.
Salesman: Yepper.

Customer: Awesome - I'll take 2 !

That had to be a hard job. Solve a problem that was perceived as not needing solving and then do it in a new, dangerous, and highly uncomfortable way. And you thought software was hard.