Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something!
Mary Kay Ash (I wrote about this here).
The key to business success? A really good product, with a really great sales person/sales force.
I have known this for a long time. There is an interesting article about Steve Jobs up at Slate.com. It is sort of (ok, quite a bit) critical of Steve Jobs and his “closed approach.” But buried in it, without the use of the word “sales,” it reveals Jobs’ great strength – as sales person par excellence.
If you have been reading Bob Morris’ posts here on our blog about Carmine Gallo’s book about Steve Jobs (and my posts about Gallo’s videos about Jobs); if you have paid attention at all to Steve Jobs; then you know that though he has great, even world-changing products, there is no one – and I mean no one — who is better at sales than Steve Jobs.
The article, Steve Jobs, A New Mogul With Old Methods by Tim Wu, tells much about the Jobs approach, his products, his view that that he wants total control of his “system.” Though the article does not use the word “sales” at all, it is Jobs as salesman that makes the needed, additional, whopping difference in Apple’s success. Here’s a quote:
In the computer world, and particularly for those in the cult of the Mac, a Jobs keynote speech is part rock concert, part sacrament. As he speaks, he is repeatedly interrupted by cheers, an unusual thing in corporate speechmaking.
It reminded me of an article I read years ago. It was about the amazing success of Paul Harvey on the radio. What was his secret? It was simple, really (simple – not easy to replicate!) He was world-calls great at sales. The article was: Paul Harvey: He’s been a radio icon since Limbaugh and Stern were in grade school. More than that, he is the finest huckster ever to roam the airwaves by Mike Thomas at Salon.com (September, 2001). Here’s the key excerpt:
It may be cynical to say so, but therein lies the key to Harvey’s longevity and success. Sure, he’s an astute dissector of current events, cultural phenomena and middle-American minutiae. But more than that, he is perhaps the finest huckster ever to roam the airwaves. He is so good that sponsors are said to be stacked high and deep, waiting to wow him with their products. Because if he is wowed, and only if he decides something is worthy of his own personal use, he will sell the hell out of it. And even while it is sometimes hard to believe that the multimillionaire workaholic finds time to strap on leaf blowers and operate load handlers, one willingly suspends disbelief if only out of respect and admiration for the magical way he woos us to spend money.
So, we’re back to the simple wisdom of Mary Kay Ash: Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something!
Here’s the latest in my occasional lament: so many books, so little time. I simply blog about books that sound important, that I wish I had time to read… Will this move up in my “must read” list? Time will tell.
First, here’s what Chris Anderson (The Long Tail, Wired) says about this one: “An explosive history that makes it clear how the information business became what it is today. Important reading.”
The book is The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu (Knopf — November 2, 2010). I read about it in the article The Master Switch by Tim Wu — a Masterful Guide to Our Internet World by Art Brodsky, Communications Director, Public Knowledge on The Huffington Post. Here’s an excerpt:
Wu’s eminently readable book is a history of the telephone network, the movie industry and broadcasting, all of them leading up to the history of today’s combination of all of them — the Internet. Those industries had innovative, entrepreneurial beginnings, promising great things for society. There is a rocky growth and development period as the technology becomes better, may encroach on other businesses and finally reaches critical mass. Into the chaos comes a “great mogul” to impose order — to control the Master Switch to information and technology: “Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains.” As Wu notes, the federal government is usually recruited to help out the mogul and his plans to gain control over the technology and product.
Wu’s cycle has a backside also, in which another disruptive technology, or a public-spirited government, breaks up the mogul-driven business model, and the Cycle starts anew.
Wu has done his homework. The stories of the industries Wu tracks are fascinating. In today’s corporate-driven movie business, we forget that there was a generation of outcasts who started movie studios, invented new technologies, took over theaters and made the industry their own, at least until other forces broke it up and new models took over. One industry leader could dictate that the time was not right for full-length movies, until a rebel arose to show longer films, and that rebel became part of the industry firmament. One of the early movie moguls was one Wilhelm Fuchs, a Jewish immigrant who later changed his name to Fox. Yes, that Fox.
The article ends with this closing quote from the book:
Let us, then, not fail to protect ourselves from the will of those who might seek domination of those resources we cannot do without. If we do not take this moment to secure our sovereignty over the choices that our information age has allowed us to enjoy, we cannot reasonably blame its loss on those who are free to enrich themselves by taking it from us in a manner history has foretold.