I received an email written in Dutch this week, reminding me of my time working with KLM and the Dutch PTT. Some days, I would take the evening flight from New York, attend meetings in Den Haag when I arrived the next morning and then return on the afternoon flight from Schiphol.

Those brand experience memories brought to mind the recent conversations I’ve heard and participated in regarding solution selling for MR organizations.

In my air cargo experience, businesses had a range of choices for shipping to Europe and around the world. The challenge from my perspective was differentiating the KLM/PTT brand from other options. Developing tools and training that enabled my salespeople to succeed, while delivering satisfactory revenue and yield to my stakeholders.

From the perspective of another industry, here are four considerations on solution selling in the MR world:

  1. Training: Substitute sales training with product training. Require sales and service people to periodically follow a project through your system from start to finish. Salespeople on the tarmac aren’t very helpful, yet they can uncover unique selling propositions. Hands-on experience with work in progress enables a salesperson to speak with authority.
  2. Transparency: If you broker or aggregate services from other MR suppliers for resale under your brand, define your unique competitive advantage and sell that differentiation. In the air-cargo business, as some of you have experienced as passengers, we were sometimes overbooked. We’d consign shipments to other carriers on the same schedule, for the same price and promptly notify the client. Assume clients are communicating with each other. We know “how the sausage is made.”
  3. Service: Sometimes an air cargo shipment destined for Delhi winds up in Johannesburg. If an MR project goes astray on your watch, make it right. Stakeholders do not like refunds or unbilled work; however, lost relationships are much more expensive.
  4. Focus: At KLM/PTT, there were routes and commodities that we handled better than any competitor. Staying focused supported our efforts to build and maintain a large, loyal customer base. Recommending opportunities that are not a good fit to other MR firms creates goodwill, good karma with MR clients and potential reciprocity from those MR firms.

I’d welcome your thoughts and comments on sales and marketing in the MR space.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.