A Spoon Full of Sugar… Why Mary Poppins is My Best Sales & Marketing Coach

For many of us, Mary Poppins was our favorite movie growing up.

I felt like Mary taught me so many lessons; the importance of using my imagination and the pursuit of being “practically perfect in every way.”

However it was the phrase, “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” which left the greatest impression on me, given my current focus on sales and marketing.

You see – most of the time prospects simply don’t know what is good for them.

After spending hours, months and sometimes years uncovering their cores problem; we continually face the difficulty of fighting an uphill battle, ever reluctant to do something despite a continuous drain on their business.

Prospects are like children.

If you lack the skills to get through to them and they fail to see the consequences, the only way you can let them learn is from their own mistakes.

How did we learn not to touch a hot frying pan? Most of us received a little burn when we weren’t cautious.

But what if there was another way?

Mary Poppins uses the sugar.

She masks the solution, which is often extremely hard to digest – with something that 99% of children like.

In the same way as sales professionals or marketers – is it wrong for us to focus on only what the customer wants to hear when all options have been exhausted?

If we have discovered there is real pain and that the prospect can truly benefit from our solution – is there anything wrong with doing whatever it takes if they are going to thank you in the end?

Turning back to the analogy – parents make the decision on behalf of their children based on the belief that they know what is best for them – forcing them to take the medicine. The sugar is just a way for the event to be more amicable, however the intentions are still inherently deceptive.

In business, we will continuously be faced with this choice.

Can we give the client ‘sugar’ and coerce them into using our product (medicine) if it is justified when the results exceed expectations?

On the other hand – when this goes wrong – who should take the blame for these borderline practices?

There have been many times where as an executive – I have pursued a deal by all means necessary when I knew I could add value. I trusted my instinct and was always happy to be accountable if it worked out negatively, which was so infrequent it didn’t matter.

A doctor relies on a combination of instinct and copious amounts of training & experience to come to a conclusion – often on the patient’s behalf.

After 7-8 years in the ring, I feel that in a sales & marketing context, I am paid to be a technology ‘doctor.’

My professions demands me to trust my own ability to take ‘symptoms’ and qualify them into ‘treatable illnesses.

My fear is that not everyone is qualified to be a parent, let alone a doctor.

Often we are overconfident in our abilities which can result in critical errors.

Commonly, the over zealousness of early sales people to sell the product despite limited knowledge can result in false promises which come to haunt an organization.

Although initial revenue may flow into the coffers; small accounts commonly balloon into complex messes – which may have negative externalities like legal costs and increased maintenance time from customer success which are disproportionate to total revenue.

Ultimately – I think if I am having to use ‘sugar’ to get the deal across the line I have failed to communicate the real value of my offering.

Despite this, there are some individuals who I genuinely feel require the Mary Poppins treatment.

The most important thing is that when I am unsure I admit I am underqualified and prefer to stay uninvolved.

I know it is controversial but sometimes I just think “a spoon full of sugar” is required to get the job done; as it is for the prospect’s own good.

I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube