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February 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 2
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Event Marketing Guru’s Corner: Selling Too Much

“All of the old paradigms that made simple selling easy through low buyer resistance have been turned on their heads.”
  The pure, anecdotal sales pitch is dead, and few observers are mourning its passing. Have you noticed how difficult it is for anyone with the word “sales” in his or her title to get a simple appointment?

We’re no longer living in a low-education, low-technology, low-information world with a limited number of choices. All of the old paradigms that made simple selling easy through low buyer resistance have been turned on their heads. Today, we have the highest education levels in history. Today’s higher-than-high-tech world offers ubiquitous information to all, instantly. And the entrepreneurial boom has offered our society more competition ... and thus, more choices than ever before. Today, the buyer has all of the power, and the seller is at his or her mercy.


While too many event marketers have been trumpeting the virtues of their wares, in the prospect’s minds they’ve skipped a step. He or she is thinking, “Wait a minute. I’m not in your business. You have to be in mine.”

A salesman must always start with the marketplace and work backward. Always guide the booth engagement by asking strategic probing questions to attain increasingly specific information about the prospect’s real objectives and current challenges. Then, and only then, are you truly in a position to make an educated case that “our company and solution is the obvious choice” (if indeed, this is the case).


The job of event marketers is no longer to “yak” incessantly about how wonderful their company and offerings will prove to be for prospective buyers. Rather, it is to facilitate the best possible decision on behalf of the buyer — only in the buyer’s best interest.

Welcome to the new age of educational selling. Today’s jaded marketplace simply wants to know how any particular company and offering stacks up against competitive alternatives. Human nature dictates that people always want to make the best purchasing decisions. Simply put, today’s vastly more sophisticated buyer can afford to take his or here time in maximizing the value of every purchase.


The most successful event marketers treat the marketplace like a jury, understanding that it’s about building the strongest case possible, supported by analysis of objective evidence. Furthermore, they allow the buyer to feel in total control of the buying process while they facilitate today’s longer buying cycles.

One might say that the new role of the seller is actually that of the assistant buyer. It’s no longer about telling people what to buy. It’s about giving them a “why,” and they’ll normally ask you for it.

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Charles W. AllenWriter's Bio: Charles W. Allen is an independent consultant for professional event marketing solutions and specializes in sales training, motivational speaking and maximizing sponsorship sales. He also serves as executive director of the International Economic Alliance, which originated at Harvard University. Read more articles by this author

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