Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sales Poetry - Poetry as an analogy for Sales

I originally wrote this as the basis for a speech and found it again when I was recently trawling through my documents folder. I hope you enjoy it.


Poetry needs passion, so does sales.

You can write a limerick and get a laugh, you can run through a process and get a sale. But if you want to leave them wanting more, you need to approach Sales with passion. After all, it is sales that gives your company its life blood, revenue. You may as well get passionate about it. 

Consistent format 

Poetry has consistent formats eg: Haiku, Rhyme, Quatrain, Iambic pentameter and limerick. Similarly, Sales generally follow a Prospect, Qualify, Position, Align, Proof of concept, determine scope of work, Quote, Negotiate, Close. 

Explores Facts and Emotions 

Poetry explores and questions facts, assumptions and emotions:
Eg: There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses — he was worth a thousand pound
(with apologies to AB "Banjo" Paterson)

A sales person might question the truth of this and seek to understand if the owner was happy with a replacement. If not, what would the owner do in the mean time to satisfy the need for a colt. Possibly strike an agreement to outsource a colt of similar stature at 100 pounds per month for the next 6 months and if the colt from old Regret could not be found, the owner could purchase the replacement. 

Sometimes unexpected ending 

Poetry can lead you down the garden path, certain that a pot of gold awaits at the end. Then, just as you feel it in your grasp, it is snatched away. Sales are the same, but if you write the script, you can be more certain of the end. 

Sometimes inspired

Famous American poet Ruth Stone described how a poem would fly to her when she was harvesting in the fields. See I had my own experience when I was able to out manoeuvre IBM. This is also a story about flexibility in smaller companies. 

Sometimes just hard work and persistence

Sometimes a poem just flows; sometimes it’s just hard work. When it is hard work you can still get there but you need to follow a process and make sure that the deal is still worth the work. 
·         2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
·         3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
·         5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
·         10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
·         80% of sales are made on or after the 5th contact <<== WOW

There are highs and lows 

Just as poetry can take you on an emotional rollercoaster, so can sales.
Month on month you can be elated at the end of the month then realise then you need to do it all over again.
The best way to avoid this is to have visibility of a pipeline.... 

Not everyone is a poet 

Just as everyone is not a poet, not everyone can sell.
The features and the benefits from which you can tell
That you understand all the tricks and avenues
It might be obvious to all, that you are clever with words
Adds up to nought when you are dealing with revenues


  1. You missed one of the most important aspects of poetry: the ability to look at something mundane in a completely new way. Surely there's a correlation with the sales process there somewhere?

  2. Thanks Helen. I think you are right.
    I guess thats why I gave it the label "Art of Sales".
    I find it more often in complex sales, though the solution is often simple.
    Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Good one !! A Sales person is a poet at heart .. the very definition of a poet is " A writer of poems- One who is especially gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful or lyrical" Sales people are gifted in the perception and expression of the vague -the service which they sell , I hope you agree !

  4. Thanks Bhakti.
    It is great to see that this blog post has struck a note that resonates well.