Help your customers sell

I’ve long been wanting to see someone in the local news business — newspaper or newcomer — experiment with citizen sales (the revenue equivalent of citizen journalism). This, I believe, is one way to make hyperlocal sales scale, better than a sales staff at reaching more small businesses, more direct, personal, and helpful than telemarketing. The sales people could be bloggers who sell into their own blogs and into a network but they could also be people who just sell. I won’t know whether it will work until some folks try.

Now takes the notion farther, suggesting that especially in this economic meltdown — when more and more people are going to lose jobs and many of them will never go back to a company and will work independently — companies should not just sell to their customers but should help their customers sell to each other. It’s an extension of the idea in What Would Google Do? of following Google example by creating platforms for others to succeed. “Sellsumers,” is their title – they love to give trends cute titles and taglines: “Selling is the new saving.”

Newspapers used to let kids sell papers. Now they should let readers sells ads.

They should enable readers to sell content (rather than assigning a staff photographer to shoot that dull business-story picture, why not put the job out to bid to the community: the best photographer for the best price gets the gig).

They should also create platforms to enable readers to sell services to each other: cleaning, babysitting, tax prep, whatever. We’ve seen lots of no-cigar services that want us to rate local services. How much better it would be to create a platform for advertising, bidding, and payment; she who gets the most business is the best.

Etsy has space and equipment to help craftsmen make their goods and other businesses are popping up to do the same thing.

I think they could follow Michael Rosenblum‘s example and train people, in media or in any skill.

Trendwatching suggests helping people rent out parking spaces or storage in their homes.

Meetup provides a platform for people to organize events and clubs and even make some money at it.

And the list goes on. If a local organization thinks of the ways it can help organize the lives and commerce as well as the information of a community, of ways to act as a platform and enable members of the community to succeed, it can benefit in ways other than just trying to extract value from them. Create value. Enable value and see what happens.