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This is a really good piece!

One suggestion – it is not all about profit. We tend to think of it that way in B to B, and it is not always wrong.

Different clients have different motivations.

It is important to try and understand what is motivating them before we start to sell. Sales is a process of collaboration and problem solving. We need to understand the motivation, in order to understand the (true) nature of the problem we are trying to solve.

Here is an example.

I had a student team (I teach at the university sometimes) examine a small painting & decorating company in rural eastern Oregon. The team came up with all types of different ideas for how the owner could grow her business. They had it scaling up from a venture with just a couple of employees, to a juggernaut with many teams working on many client projects at the same time.

I thought she was going to cry, after their presentation.  “No, that is not what I want.”

It turns out that this started out as a hobby business of sorts. She is very artistic and loved interior design. When she lost her husband, she had to expand the business full-time to pay the family bills. She had done a very good job of growing the company just enough to support her family and put her kids through college. She learned early on that design was fun, but it didn’t pay the bills. She had structured her business to do enough painting during the busy season, to pay the bills, and spend the rest of the time working on the design stuff that was more of her passion. The stuff that gave her joy.

The class was proposing to maximize revenue – their plan did that.

This customer wanted to maximize the time available for her passion – design. Growing the painting side of the business, that was far more plentiful and lucrative, was the last thing she wanted to do. It would make the business bigger, and more profitable, but limit her happiness.

Customers want all kinds of things. Sometimes they are driving by profit or revenue (not the same thing), often they have personal goals too (less hassle, more vacation, next promotion, showing up Bob, …). It is important to understand all of these, often subtle, motivational factors.

Just a thought…

I sat down last night with a founder from the community to give him some feedback on his pitch. He’s built a pretty interesting product for a well defined niche but hasn’t been closing as many deals as he’d like. I took a few notes during our…

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About the Author

Wilson Zehr is a Direct Mail Industry Expert, Direct Marketing Specialist, and CEO of Cendix (, the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that increase sales both online and offline. He is also the founder of Zairmail (, the company responsible for many "industry firsts" in direct mail.


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