in the Past: Are You Hindered by Formerly Effective
Sales & Marketing Policies?
I call it FIP. Fine in the Past. It refers to all
the sales and marketing efforts, ideas, policies,
principles, techniques, and strategies that worked well
in the past, but are no longer effective. The past is
everything that's pre-2005.
I still recall a poignant moment with an attendee at one
of my seminars. During the break he came up to me and
"I've been in business for seventeen years. And
we've done well. But now, it seems like everything is
changing, and I don't know what to do."
He went on to explain that he had built his formerly
thriving tool and die business on certain core
principles: Quality workmanship, competitive prices, and
Those principles, adhered to with discipline and
conviction, had brought him word-of- mouth business
consistently over the years. But they were no longer
working, and his business was floundering. The pain and
confusion were written all over his face as he
contemplated the prospect of seeing his business wither
Those principles are some of the most common examples of
FIP: Business principles and policies that were
sufficient on which to build a business, but today are
not. At one time, you could distinguish your business
from others on the basis of these and other FIP
principles. Now, however, the bar has risen. Because
there is so much churn in our marketplace and the
competition is so fierce, the kinds of service and
quality that were sufficient to distinguish yourself
from your competition are no longer sufficient. Your
customers expect previously outstanding levels of
service and quality from every supplier. What was
sufficient a few years ago is still necessary today, but
no longer sufficient.
That reliance on quality service and word-of-mouth
marketing is a FIP principle. When viewed from the
perspective of effective sales and marketing approaches,
these principles are passive. They rely on your
customer's coming to you, recognizing the superiority of
your product or service, and then talking about you to
others. Your job is to create an attractive operation
that will pull customers to you and then keep them
When everyone else operated in similar fashion, that was
FIP. But when more and more competitors appear, and they
make the same claims as you do, your reliance on passive
marketing methods relegates you to second choice.
Probably one of the greatest marketing myths of all time
is encapsulated in the expression, "Build a better
mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Once you build a better mousetrap, you then have to
publicize it, price it correctly, and develop a sales
system to take it to market in an effective and
efficient way. And if you don't do that, your mousetrap
will linger in the limbo of obscurity.
I've seen literally hundreds of businesses of all sizes
who never reached their potential because of an
inability to do sales well. They were perfectly capable
of rendering outstanding service at competitive prices
but struggled to survive. These FIP principles were so
deeply ingrained in their mindsets that they never
learned to do sales as well as they could, and their
businesses never reached the level of prosperity and
success that they could. The economic landscape is
littered with the remains of businesses who were
excellent in providing their product or service, but
mediocre in selling it.
Here are some other FIP principles, followed by the more
effective modern approach.
FIP # 1: Creating sales by relying totally on
It was OK to hire a number of salespeople, give them
some basic training, and then charge them with "Go
forth and sell a lot." Sales territories were
geographically based and each salesperson was a clone of
the other. Accountability was a nasty word that no one
MEMA: (More Effective Modern Approach)
Customers are first profiled to collect relevant
marketing information. Then, they are analyzed and
segmented, not only by their potential, but by the
dynamics of the most effective sales approaches. The
arsenal of sales methodologies now includes a variety of
weapons: Web site marketing, e-commerce, trade show
marketing, out-bound telemarketing, and data-base
marketing to name a few. The appropriate sales
methodology is selected based on the potential and
dynamics of the customer. Customer contacts are tracked
on a CRM system. The salesperson becomes one of many
methods of acquiring and nurturing customers.
FIP # 2: Sales management by pay plan.
In other words, pay them straight commission and
everything will take care of itself.
The sales commission plan, while incredibly important,
is not the only, nor the primary method of sales
management. Those who supervise sales people, whether
they be branch managers, principles or sales managers,
understand that the processes and methods they use to
focus, motivate and hold salespeople accountable are a
necessary and strategically important part of how
effectively sales is done. MEMA companies have a formal
process of hiring a sales person, training and
developing that salesperson, helping that person focus
his/her energies effectively, and holding them
accountable for the wise investment of their selling
FIP # 3: Reliance on "on-the-job"
Everyone can learn how to be an effective salesperson.
Just put them out there in a sales territory, and sooner
or later they will figure out how to do the job well.
Sales is a profession and, like every profession,
requires both a minimum standard of knowledge and
behavior in order to be allowed to practice, as well as
commitment to continuous improvement in order to
Would you send your children to a teacher who had never
passed the minimum standards? Would you fly on an
airplane with a pilot who had never been certified?
Would you go to a counselor who had never been trained
in the basics of the job? Would you use an accountant
who had never studied?
Sales is an equally demanding profession. MEMA companies
understand this, and develop a curriculum and a set of
minimum standards for every salesperson. Once the
salesperson has met the minimum expectations for
knowledge and behavior, he/she is expected to
continually develop and improve for the rest of their
FIP # 4: Hiring by "feel."
When it comes time to hire a new salesperson, find
someone who has some experience in the industry and
about whom you "feel" good.
Create a specific hiring process with a profile of the
most effective salesperson as a model to which to
compare all sales candidates. Use several interviews,
formal assessment documents, reference checks and a
well-designed pre-hire aptitude assessment to come to a
well-informed decision about who to hire. MEMA companies
understand that hiring by "feel" is often a
rationalization for a lack of effort, and that the
decision about who to hire can be the single most
important decision most sales managers will make.
The list of FIP positions can go on for quite a while.
These are the most common. If they apply to you, it is
time to rethink your position and move your sales and
marketing efforts into the 21st
About Dave Kahle, The Growth Coach®:
Dave Kahle is a consultant and trainer who helps his
clients increase their sales and improve their sales
productivity. He speaks from real world experience,
having been the number one salesperson in the country
for two companies in two distinct industries. Dave has
trained thousands of salespeople to be more successful
in the Information Age economy. He's the author of over
1,000 articles, a monthly ezine, and six books
Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople and Transforming
Your Sales Force for the 21st Century. He has a
gift for creating powerful training events that get
audiences thinking differently about sales.
His "Thinking About Sales" Ezine features
content-filled motivating articles, practical tips for
immediate improvements, useful resources and helpful
tips to help increase sales. Join for NOTHING on-line at
You can reach Dave at:
The DaCo Corporation
3736 West River Drive
Comstock Park, MI 49321
Phone: 800-331-1287 / 616-451-9377