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David Meerman-Scott, Sales VPs and Antarctica [Video]

Posted by Cliff Pollan on 05, Sep, 2014 Antarctica Blog Snapshot


Last week, my colleague Carrie Kuempel and I took a very short trip (it’s a 7 minute walk) over to David Meerman Scott’s office to interview him about his new book – The New Rules of Sales and Service. In my view this is a seminal work, much like his book – The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

That changed how many people thought about marketing and I think this work will do the same for sales.

We discussed the challenges being felt by Sales VPs who have “grown-up” without the tools of content and social media. In this inspiring excerpt David recounts an interesting experience of booking an expedition to Antarctica:


Cliff:  So, David, give us one of the great new selling examples form the book.

David:   “The book opens with the story of going to Antarctica. I always wanted to go to Antarctica as a kid, since I was 6. I said to my wife “this is the year we’re going to go to Antarctica” and she said “I don’t really want to go to Antarctica, it’s scary. I have to cross the Drake Passage and I might throw-up” and so on. So, we went online and we found a half dozen expedition outfitters and we looked at all their content and the most famous expedition outfitter was National Geographic – a great brand, and they were trying to sell to me on their home page – with a big fat button on their page saying “book a reservation”. I’m looking for information. I’m not ready to buy a ticket, yet. Then there was the one that had the best SEO. Then there was the low-cost operator. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to go two days sail from the most southern city in the world to a continent that has no inhabitants on a low-cost provider – this is not the way I want to do it.

“Then I found Quark Expeditions. They had great content. I was totally engaged. They had YouTube videos; Twitter. I tweeted the company. They tweeted back. The CEO of the company tweeted me. When I was then ready to engage one on one, I reached out to them on their “contact us” form. My “polar advisor” Paul contacted me. He knew very well I’d already gone through the website start to finish and he was there to be helpful not to close me in the traditional sense of wrestling me to the ground, but close me from the perspective of “what more can I do to help”, and I said “well, we’re worried about throwing-up on the trip because of the Drake Passage and he helped by sending us links to blog posts and links to YouTube videos. These tickets are $20,000 a pair to book a cabin on an expedition ship. And, so, they closed the deal because they had the best content and the best sales person. He wasn’t trying to close. He was curating content. He knew that I had near-perfect information. I got to the point where I needed his help and he knew that.

Cliff:  Was it the sales experience that won that deal, then?

David:  It was the content that won the deal. It was the fact that they were the most engaged and they had the best content, but once it went from me as the “vast unwashed” to me as a named person on Twitter communicating with the company, reaching out to an individual sales rep. At that point it was the selling process, but it was still the content. It was still the fact that when I asked a question he didn’t try to sell me “oh you don’t have to worry about throwing up! No-one throws-up”. The answer was “you might throw-up, but here’s what our doctor tells you are the best ways to prevent it.”


While this may feel  like a business to consumer sales story by a very active user of online tools, I think it captures many of the changes that reflect a B2B sale, including complex sales.  Quite simply, a prospect doing research online, then still having some concerns to sort out (getting really sick) and asking for validation and encouragement to make a good decision and proceed.  Connecting with a person who did feel like an expert, had good resources and knowledge at hand to think from a buyer’s perspective  was what David needed to make a go decision.

Does this story resonate with you?

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