Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:November 3rd, 2008 13:42 EST

Where do You Find the Thirsty Horses

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

One of the main problems that I notice in business owners is that they generally don`t understand the difference between sales and marketing. In fact, I recently had a client who hired a successful VP of Marketing away from a competitor to be his National VP of Sales. But in this new role, the poor guy failed miserably. My client could not understand why a success story in one firm could fail so prolifically in his. I saw the issue in 20 seconds:

Sellers are not necessarily marketers and marketers are not necessarily sellers. Take this maxim to the bank. Learn it or perish!

Now onto a marketing message

Most marketing is considered successful when you bring the "horse to water" because generally, marketing is not about making the horse drink. It is not part of the responsibility of the marketing function in most businesses and it is simply, in most cases, not even possible for marketing to cause people to purchase whatever you are selling (or take whatever action you are seeking). And borrowing from the brilliant analogy of my close friend, Patrick Henry (who is one of the exceptional marketers who I have run into in my career), the trick is to do one of two different things:

1. When the horse comes to the trough, which is the goal of the marketing people, the salespeople have to somehow make that horse thirsty. And that is going to happen in one of two ways: The first way is they are going to put salt in its food and the second way is they are going to run that horse around until it needs to drink the water that they sell. Both of these plans are laborious and potentially a waste of time.

2. The alternative strategy, and a better option than making the horse thirsty, is to learn how to find thirsty horses. Thirsty horses are ready to go and it just takes a different kind of marketing and a different kind of selling in order to find them. It is a much more direct approach than the blanket approach handled by most marketing folks.

Particularly, for people in small businesses, their marketing messages are not clear enough to be able to accurately identify thirsty horses. Small business owners frequently come from the place where it is better to find any horse and bring it to the trough and take a chance on making it thirsty than spending their time looking for thirsty horses, which are almost always a sure thing once they find them.

But years of experience and research proves that targeting the right prospects yields the highest results. Don`t try to market or sell your products to people who are not interested or not likely to become your customer. Recognize that not every person can be a customer " so let go of the ones who will not and concentrate on the ones who can be, who need to be, and who want to be your customer.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, keep in mind that if you are marketing or selling, you have to carefully seek out your prospects. Not everyone will become your customer, so be sure to exercise good judgment in who is most likely to benefit from what you sell, whether you`re selling a product or a service. In the end, you`ll save lots of energy because salting the oats to create thirsty horses won`t work for very long.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, advisor and faculty member of the iLearningGlobal community. To bring Joel into your company, please visit
http://www.joelblock.com  or http://www.growth-logic.com. Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - http://www.entrepreneur-hub.com. And finally, for film makers: http://www.filmfundingblog.com  - our newest project.