Ok, so perhaps not the person you'd most expect to be dishing out vital sales tips – but as it turns out, this year's Spongebob Annual (UK edition) has avery useful piece in it.
Here's the plot: Plankton's wife/computer has run away. Plankton, by the way, is the rather tiny, evil nemesis of Spongebob & Mr Krabs (Spongebob's boss). In order to win her back he writes her a love letter as follows:
Oh Karen, you are my computer
Crawl back to me, the world's best suitor!
I went to college, don't you forget
The smartest guy you ever met!
I am so great, I am so fine
And I own you, so you are mine
Remember though it may annoy you
Do as I say, or I'll destroy you!
Spongebob, of course, is horrified by this self-centred poem and so re-writes it. As it turns out, Karen much prefers Plankton's original. But in the real world, very, very few customers have Karen's tastes.
Unfortunately, a great many sellers do seem to have Plankton's writing style though. Perhaps not the “do as I say, or I'll destroy you” elements – but certainly the self aggrandizing, self-centred approach to writing.
Sales – particularly sales of large, complex or intangible products – is very similar to the process of courting: of attracting, maintaining and growing the attentions of another.
You can't demand that someone falls in love with your product, just like you can't demand someone falls in love with you. It has to be earned. And although courting often begins with a certain amount of attention-grabbing behaviour, if it is to succeed over time it must switch to attention-giving. A successful relationship is characterised by growing mutual giving and growing mutual trust. The self aggrandizing attention-grabbing must give way to thoughts and acts focused on the needs of the other.
And it's the same with sales. Once you have the attention of a prospect you must focus on their needs – and your communications must reflect this. As the old saying goes: Before They Care What You Know, They Need to Know You Care.