Sell to the People Who are Buying

You’ve heard me say this often.  If your sales are down, it doesn’t mean everybody has stopped buying what you sell.  Find a different channel, or different geography, and start selling there.

Enter Cecilia Panichelli, an American-educated MBA who returned to her native Argentina to hang out her shingle as a marketing consultant.  Two things you should know about her.  First, she punctuates this point with a perspective in this post few of us have (hint: Argentina’s economy is cruising along just fine).  Second, she can help you launch your marketing effort down there.  I asked her to share some thoughts with us. . .

Reporting from Buenos Aires – The Marketing Facilitator

Let’s face it, the American economy is still going to take some time to recover so we better have a Plan B. Some companies are lucky because they are in a category that grows at 30% per year. Take the case of sweet tea companies 5 years ago, all they needed to do was to get new products into the shelf and people were buying it.  Plus, as sodas saw their shelf space threatened, they bought the ice tea category- smart guys. My point is, if you happen to be in that category, enjoy it; for everyone else “there is MasterCard.”  Or, take this opportunity to expand your business strategy.  Look for new markets to find new ways to utilize your infrastructure and leverage your image in different channels. If you are a bar-b-q sauce company that sells retail, try food service (Hamilton’s note: Cecilia did just that for an American company). If you sell nutritional bars, expand your channels of distribution.  If you sell real estate try expanding to new countries.

Or try them all.

While the US market has been hit hard, some emerging economies are showing big opportunities for American businesses. Take the case of Starbucks, the coffee shop giant that faced slumping sales in the United States is expanding to Latin America. Ricardo Rico, Starbucks’ Latin American marketing director, said in an e-mail to Reuters: “Argentina, our latest market to enter in the region has one of the highest transaction levels anywhere in the Starbucks system.”

Argentina is the Southern country in Latin America and very well known for its meat, wine and women. Now, you probably didn’t know that they also produce all Spanish content for MTV Latin America and has a software and game industry that is booming. If you closely study the market, you quickly realize that from wellness programs to emerging powerhouse brands in the wine industry, you’ll find affluent customers and limited product offerings. Internet access in Argentina is the highest in all Latin America, and the country has a culture of early adapters with technology, which is making the interactive media marketing explode.

Most companies still don’t utilize their website to its full potential and there is a hype about social media but very few experts in the subject. Bottom line, try new emerging markets, it will challenge you today, but it will also give you a first entrant advantage in the future. Look at the big picture, where will economic growth come from next? Start small, one country at a time, so you can diversify your customer base, reduce risks and benefit from emerging markets growth in the future. Get someone that can help you go thru the ropes of marketing products in Argentina, today, technology allows us to be connected and make global transactions easier than ever. It is a new kind of world, start thinking about it and move fast or someone else will.

Thank you Cecilia, well said.  You can contact Cecilia Panichelli at ceciliapanichelli at gmail dot com.  

4 thoughts on “Sell to the People Who are Buying

  1. Chris

    I totally agree. Too many companies identify a list of, say 25 companies, that they want to target. Then they spend all of their efforts on those 25 prospects – or should I say suspects.

    If they’re lucky, they’ll get one new client out of the bunch. What forward thinking, salesmanship oriented marketers realize is that only when a prospect has pain that matches you product or service offering. If you focus on a limited set of prospects, it could be quite a long time until your message resonates.

    A much better strategy is to cast the net wide and keep in touch at least monthly. That way in any given month, some number of prospects will be experiencing a pain you can solve. We’ve found that one of the worst client relationships you can build starts when you have to convince someone to do business with you.

  2. hamilton Post author

    So, so true, Chris, about the bad things that seem to follow when you have to convince someone to do business with you. And that’s typically preceded by a prospecting effort (or lack thereof) that doesn’t get the word out to enough people. That’s when you find yourself spending too much time with too few people.

  3. Cecilia

    Thank you Chris for adding to my post. It is key to target qualified leads, but the key issue now is to increase your customer base and expand your horizons. I was this morning talking to one of the directors of Direct TV in Argentina, the growth they are experiencing down here is huge, The company is doing much better than in the US; even if you sell Direct TV, there is a limited amount of people you can sell your products in the US, they are now enjoying the benefits of expanding to Latin America which has allow them to keep their growth projections and a lot of stakeholders very happy.

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