We Do Not Sell Envelopes: 3 Reasons Why We Avoid Selling Product and Your Sales Team Should Too

By Toby Reed

Our sales team does not sell envelopes. I don’t want you to get me wrong, you can still find salespeople who do. You know them, the old product pushers. The salespeople whose sales process is 100% about telling you how their knife set slices and dices better than the competition. These are the “A” personalities. The salespeople who take center stage, standing squarely in the spotlight. The entertaining ones captivating an audience with their wit, charisma, and great sense of humor; while the less than talented ones pester, annoy, and forget that we were born with two ears and one mouth. They energetically tell you how their brand is better, cheaper, or more prestigious than the other guy’s knife set. That salesperson; the product pusher, is old news. Today, the really effective sales professionals are not pushing product and they are not seeking the spotlight. Instead, they are shining it on their customers. Here are 3 reasons why I do exactly that.

Reason #1: The customer is seeking a solution, not a product.

Let me explain. Sales executives at Tension, contrary to popular belief, do NOT sell envelopes. Sure, customers physically use the envelopes that we manufacture, but we are providing a unique solution to a specific customer need. Often supplying product and services that go well beyond simply the envelope itself. After all, no one is in the business of simply buying envelopes for the sake of having envelopes. Customers are seeking a solution that helps them FIX, ACCOMPLISH, OR AVOID something in order to more effectively achieve their true business goals.  How your product helps your customer achieve that goal is what is important to your customer. Not the product itself.

Reason #2: If you are selling product, you are a commodity.

So to understand what the customer is looking to achieve, our sales team needs to put the focus on the customer and not on our products. Instead of telling the customer about the superior features and benefits of our envelopes and other printed solutions, we have to focus on understanding our customer’s intrinsic needs to determine whether or not we can craft a solution that brings our customer value. If we do not address customer needs, we do not establish customer value, and our product is viewed as one of many on the market. Not as a unique solution.

Reason #3: The internet can provide product features and benefits.

The traditional “knife salesman” that feature dumps and sells the “sizzle not the steak” is simply a character from another time like Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross".  If the sales professional’s job was to simply provide information about how great their product is, the internet would have already made the sales profession obsolete long ago. Our role as sales professionals is to help our customers achieve their business goals and/or solve business problems that are unique to them. 

The experience our sales team has in operational mail and direct marketing services meshed with the customer’s vision of what success looks like for their business are the drivers of what the ultimate solution will be. Understanding their true operational environment, inventory strategy, and product logistics all matter when crafting their unique solution. Insight on branding considerations, internal package components, and campaign goals are critical to incorporate when creating a marketing solution for our customers if we want to bring them true value. That value comes from the discovery and collective consultation with our customer. That is where the solution is ultimately born, not from a product specification on the internet.

Summary:

Simply put, sales professionals are not created equal. The good ones will shine the spotlight squarely on their customer, ask them questions to better understand their goals, and work together with the customer to create a customized solution that satisfies their unique needs. The bad ones? Well; they sell envelopes.

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