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Benjamin Franklin, Sales Manager?

Posted on July 12, 2011

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the October 2-4 AIM Sales Management Boot Camp.

BenFranklinWith The Perfect July 4 weekend tucked away, and while I was lost in the myriad of activities from watching three back-to-back nights of fireworks on the beach, to singing an enthusiastic “God Bless America” at Sunday mass to watching a group of red, white and blue painted teenagers loft a huge flag and lead hundreds of people on the very crowded beach to sing “Happy Birthday,” I got around to thinking about the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Every Fourth, The Boston Globe, publishes the complete Declaration, and there’s no way that anyone can read this without thinking about the actual 56 signers of this truly revolutionary document. Of those 56, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war and five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. All were at one time or another, the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word.
Among the 56, for me, Benjamin Franklin stands out as the classic entrepreneur and earlier-day Blogger Supreme.

Captured in his marketing quote of “Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about,” (credit HubSpot for pointing this out to me in their 4th of July blog ), one can easily envision Ben the Blogger hard at work, quill pen in hand, printing press warmed up, posting one or two blogs a day – in hard copy on the wall of the town hall, of course, rather than on his Facebook wall.

Clearly the master of saying a lot with a little (“a penny saved is a penny earned”) as shown through his numerous quotes in Poor Richard’s Almanac, Ben was an extraordinary marketer and would today rival Seth Godin for his prolific and yet down-to-earth, simplistic comments.

Working recently on a project at Iron Mountain, I’ve been consistently impressed by the director of marketing for the program, for her uncanny ability to take complex sales issues and boil them down to simple templates, graphics and customer interfaces that slap one upside the head, in a Ben Franklin type of marketing way, and that immediately get prospects to the heart of the message.

Ben, I am sure, would have also excelled at delivering Value Propositions and done much better than the majority of the salespeople that we hear. When you think about marketing messaging and sales delivery tactics, unless that entity, that person, can immediately translate features into valuable benefits and what’s in it for the prospect, then in today’s shaky economy, more words are just more blah, blah, blah, and of course, blah.

Ben would have also made a great sales manager. Today as we at Derby Management begin attending a dozen sales meetings over the next few weeks reviewing half-year performance and planning out for the next six months, I know that I’ll be hearing the “hope” word a lot. Maybe rather than using my often stated comment of “hope is not a strategy,” I will use Ben’s much more effective, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting”.

Even though Ben will unfortunately not be an instructor at the Sales Management Boot Camp we will hold with AIM on October 2-4 in Boston, there will be experts from Brainshark, HubSpot and Salesforce joining in. Just shoot me an email at, and I can schedule a 10-minute call to answer questions and walk you through the details. You may also contact Russ Sullivan at AIM,

Keep in mind the following facts about the event:

  • Five years
  • More than 350 graduates
  • CEOs & Sales Managers only
  • High satisfaction
  • Lots of testimonials
  • Pre-August 15th discounts

Good Selling today and as you venture out into a brand new quarter remember Ben’s: “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out!”