The Relentless Marketer: Give The People What They Want




By Bill Robinson

The idea that a salesperson would actually give customers what they wanted -- and only what they wanted -- is becoming increasingly far fetched. Fortunately, there are a few management visionaries out there who are working hard to reverse this trend.

Richard Austin, managing director and founder of the British firm Evesham Micros ( , is one of them, and it's helped him build his firm, founded in 1983, to the point that it has more than 500 employees in 12 offices across the U.K. and $200 million in annual sales. Austin actively discourages his sales team from conniving to "upsell" or "cross-sell" customers products or service they don't need. Instead, he encourages them to do something revolutionary: listen carefully to customers' needs and sell them what they want -- "not what we think they want" -- at the most economical price. It's an approach built out of respect for the customer, who, of course, always has the chance to shop elsewhere. Despite its simplicity and proven effectiveness, far too few entrepreneurs make it a cornerstone of their businesses.

I always cringe when I hear some corporate sales manager say that his sales ace "could sell ice cubes to Eskimos." What kind of trust does that slick, dishonest approach build among customers in the long run? Then again, maybe it is all part of some Darwinian sales and marketing dynamic. Perhaps dishonest, insensitive salespeople exist to make the honest, ethical and integrity driven salespeople look all that much better. I like the thought of that. And, I bet Richard Austin does too.