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Selling training begins with respecting the customer.

Thus, David Ogilvy, tycoon, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, known as the “Father of Advertising” threw shade on the marketing and ad practices of the 1950’s. He argued that the customer should be seen as intelligent, and capable of dismissing hype – that current practices were bullying, loud, full of wildly exaggerated claims, and wildly underperforming.

I know this was over 70 years ago, but I fervently believe it has credence and relevance today. Do I have a leg to stand on? To take the esteemed Mr. Ogilvy’s acid test, I asked my wife. Not as a quip for the copy, but because I think that in business she’s smart and tough. And, I think, so are your prospects and customers.

What my wife says

I asked my wife what she thought of the Ogilvy’s quote in light of her business role and responsibilities. She offered the following (edited for brevity).

Number one – don’t waste my time

I get a lot of marketing messages. Before you decide to send me a message or an ad, please take the time to know, basically, what my responsibility is to the company, and what information might help me do a better job.

I find that as I scroll through my email, for instance, that I begin to associate company names with trash, meaning they are going to waste my time unless I throw them in the trash. You don’t want that kind of recognition.

Number two – earn the right to be in the conversation

Listening is more important than talking. If you’re serious, learn what I need, and what my company needs, to be more successful. Learn how we speak, how we describe issues, the terms we use.

Then, it’s up to you to move things along, from general to specific, and along with it, from skepticism to trust (and I don’t trust easily). The burden is on you. Before every interaction I have to make a decision based on my answer to the question “why should I do this?”.

Your customer is you

Here’s a simple equation that we’ve learned from decades of B2B marketing and sales: Empathy + Value = Trust. Without that trust, no sale is possible.

Put yourself through this same Ogilvy acid test. Are your opinions any different? Would you like it if business marketers treated you this way? I’m going to bet that your prospects will be holding hands with my wife.

About the author:

International author, lecturer and consultant, Scott Hornstein has worked with clients in all phases of marketing strategy, research, and implementation. He has worked with companies large and small to build profitability, by improving marketing performance, and reengineering the customer experience to boost satisfaction, referrals, and customer lifetime value.