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Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Pardon the frivolty.

The challenge was no less in this sales scenario:

The class-room lectures were over and now it was time for a project assignment.

The professor called for a bundle of combs to be brought in.

He called his students and gave them each a bunch of combs. They had to sell these combs to the monks belonging to a near-by monastery. They would take turns one after another, each given an hour to do selling.

 The first went in only to return crest-fallen after an hour.

‘What happened?’

‘Sir, the monks out there – every one of them – have their heads shaven to a shine. No surprise they had no use for a comb. Could not interest even one.’

The fellow going in second had different ideas.

He went up to the Administration and talked them into buying combs for the visitor’s rest-rooms. After all a visitor would almost always need to freshen up himself after the long travel from the city.

So he returned before his time managing to sell three combs, one each for a rest-room.

This fired up the third chap’s imagination.

Going in next, he too went up to the Administration. Made inquiries and found the monastery took in students for its residential training programs, providing them dormitory accommodation. From there it was a short piece of work to get them to provide each student a comb as part of minimal amenities.

He too returned before time grinning ear to ear – he had sold fifty combs, the intake capacity for next six months. After all a comb used by a student would not be used by another. Thus he had identified and addressed a recurring need.

What more could be done?

Looked a little hard on the last fellow going in.

Like his colleagues, he too made a bee-line to Administration block.

No clue what was going on…until it was close to the hour. He came out looking very exhausted. And then it was noticed he was walking out unencumbered by the bag of combs! What had happened? He gave or threw away his goods in disgust? The Prof was not going to like it…

After the first few steps, he broke into a sprint…all the way to the base, hands pumping the air overhead.

‘The entire lot of two hundred combs sold and they want more!!!’ he cried excitedly.

Steadying his breath, finally he broke the story: ‘It was not easy…had to meet monks at three levels. Finally they agreed to giving away combs to all visitors who came to the monastery. That would be about a hundred every month!’

But why should they be giving combs to the visitors?

‘You see, I believe, there is a good reason to: Coming here and observing the monks with shaven heads live a life of austerity, dedication, reclusion and rectitude, one would love to carry a ‘piece’ of this monastery with them back to their world for continued inspiration. A comb with select sayings of Buddha etched on it could be just that ‘piece’ – small, inexpensive for a give-away, in frequent use and enduring. A constant reminder to its user of his continued attachment to and his responsibilities in the material world. Also, imagine this: when he sets the comb on his head, it would be like receiving blessings from a Hand, also etched on the comb.’

‘Of course it took some talking to make them see the point.’

So it was spiritual appeal riding on utility fitted the given scenario too well, winning the day for him.

End

Source: Based on a story from moralstories, image from indiamart.com and sierrapinesumc.org

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Went to a well-known shop in Chennai this morning to buy sweets for Mumbai friends.

On the glass-door at the entrance was this message greeting customers:

Am given to twisting and turning in my mind messages leaping at me. Nice amusing game while it lasts. So it was this time too. Went up to the manager and suggested a word, just a word, may be added to the message to make it…

He thought for a moment and broke into a smile when it hit him. He said he’ll get it done which I doubt very much.

Anyway, here’s the suggestion made:

While welcoming all customers, new and old, light is now specially shone on the repeat customer – the most sought-after in any commerce. Hinting at habit forming?

Adds an engaging dash of intrigue: Why do they come again? Unique fare, good prices, courteous staff, nice ambiance…some tribal knowledge to flaunt when in company?

To think a mere adverb, usually trite and superfluous, could work a magic on the message!

The nice little game left me feeling good for a short while.

End

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calyps.ch sales-cartoon-customer-fault (1).jpg

 

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The simple answer is you don’t.

Imagine the following retail scenario. You discover beautiful piece of furniture only to find that it is a “one of a kind”. You discover where you can order one only to find out that it could take 4 to 6 months to receive your order. So, how does this retailer manage to survive in the age of free two day shipping? Salt Creek Farmhouse is an example of a vertical furniture retail shop that has found ways to develop customer relationships to thrive in an omnichannel world. Retail survival requires transformation to new paradigms. Lesson 1 starts with focusing on doing what the giants are not doing.

” 

And what are they doing right?

An extract (lightly edited for brevity) from Chris Peterson’s take on SCF’s success story interspersed with an occasional comment from me within <..>:

 Five lessons from Salt Creek Farmhouse

  1. Telling your story is as important as the products you sell

In the age of mass merchants, much of retail lost its “soul”. Stores merely became places to sell products. SCF is a small business and retail shop with a great story that creates a unique brand identity and differentiation for their products <though “Our Story” could do with more romance in there, I thought>

  1. Engage your customers to help tell your story

Far too many retailers use social media as another way to advertise products and promote sales. One of the most powerful aspects of visual social media like Instagram the new word-of-mouth   is having customers posting photos of how they are using products in their homes…To quote SCF’s Instagram page: “Lovely pieces should come with a lovely story.

  1. When you can’t compete on price, compete on value and personalization

…SCF competes on quality art and workmanship that people still value. They also create personal relevance by designing things for customers, and pieces that you cannot purchase everywhere…<Just imagine what a draw these pieces would be in your rooms>

  1. Know your customers and go where they are shopping

For SCF’s products that would get lost and never be found in the millions of SKUs of an retail giant, Etsy was a perfect digital place in the company of other similar artisan style stores therein…core customers could organically search for products like theirs on Etsy. It is more important to be where your customers are, than to be on sites or in stores with the most traffic.

       5. Lack of inventory can be managed as an asset

…SCF literally carries almost no inventory. In order to sell pieces as they build them, they focus on other value propositions of customization and exclusivity as opposed to the old paradigm of “mass merchandising”. It also requires developing an intimate relationship with customers who appreciate quality and service beyond the expected and are quite willing to wait for months to get what they want!…

End

 

 

Source: Chris’s article appears here.

 

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small-term-investment-plans

 

My passion of collecting anecdotes and experiences was unexpectedly rewarded today with a very unusual story. Here it goes:

Amit works for an old, respectable and conservative financial-services organization, helping people with investment counselling and management in certain parts of Mumbai city as well as rural Maharashtra.

On one of his cold-calling visits, he meets up with a prospect in one of the smaller towns.

Whatever else, rural folks, you’d know if you’ve dealt with them, are quite sharp in their assessment of whom they’re interacting with.  So, when Amit introduces himself and his org and explains the purpose of his visit, this man hears him out patiently, asks a few questions and finally says:

‘Look young man, all this is fine. I have heard about your org. No issues there. But I don’t know you at all. You pop up suddenly before me from nowhere and expect me to discuss my finances with you? You’ve no references that I know of, to recommend you.’

Amit digs into his bag.

‘Don’t bother showing me your customer letters. Unless it’s from some one I know, I trust…’

Amit pitches all that he has learnt in his training and all that he had collected from the field over the years.

From the look on the man’s face and the body language, he knows he isn’t making any headway.

And finally:

He pulls out his cell-phone, not one of those fancy ones, and says: ‘Sir, take this. Pls call these people and check,’ reeling out a few names. ‘And ask them how long I’ve been calling them…from this phone.’

The man shakes his head, almost sympathizing with the youngster: ‘How does it help?’

‘Sir, they’ll confirm it to you – for the last 7-8 years, I’ve been calling them from this phone, from the very same number.’

The man says: ‘I’m not sure where you’re going with this, my friend.’

‘Could I be holding onto the same number for so long, Sir, without doing right by my customers? Doesn’t happen with most guys in our profession; they change their numbers often and perhaps jobs too – like they’re erasing and escaping from their past…’

Amit waits for his words to sink in.

They find their mark at last.

The man’s gaze is fixed on Amit as he rests his case. Well, maybe the lad has a point…

With some more effort, he becomes Amit’s customer and remains one till this date.

 

I’ve no problem confessing it would have never occurred to me…

I hope this is now added to the org’s lore to be shared with its employees.

 

End

 

PS: So, what’s it with your investment advisor?

As a man out on the field meeting people and people, I’m sure he has many more stories under his belt. Let me see…if I can tease a few more out of him.

  

Source: besttermplan.in/short-term-investment-plans/

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From Steven S Reeves in here:

Magic Pen

(lightly edited for readability and conciseness)

Stories from the frontline selling are often are counter intuitive and funny, or at least ironic. They entertain, and educate, but aren’t always true. This one is true, and it goes like this. This story about the salesman’s magic pen illustrates how the smallest detail, or idea, can make a big difference in any sale.

John was intrigued. At this first meeting with Steve, he noticed the pen in his shirt pocket. A pen wasn’t unusual, of course, but this one was. John recognised the logo on the pen clip. He had one just like it himself. Those pens were gifted to prospects and customers by Steve’s fiercest competitor.

Steve represented one of the two hardware companies dominating the Unix server market. John was in the process of choosing a hardware supplier for the new database project. He’d already met with, and been impressed by, the other company. That was how he’d been given his pen. He didn’t understand how Steve would get hold of one, and especially couldn’t figure why he’d be advertising his competition.

The question had to be asked.  Why was Steve showing that pen?

Steve smiled, shyly.  He’d need to tell the story of how he came by it.

John already knew the competitor was eating Steve’s company’s lunch, winning just about every deal in the market. The business had professional sales people, a strong product line, and management refusing to lose new opportunities under any circumstances.

But that wasn’t the story of how Steve got the pen.

He’d been one side of the usual punch up over a new server sale, and in trouble. Despite proving his hardware was superior, and persuading management to let him offer an eye watering price, he still wasn’t winning. The other side was determined not to lose, and offered to supply it’s server for free, just to stop Steve’s company winning a deal, any deal.

Instead of giving up, He decided to stay in the game and fight. Cutting a long story short, Steve won the deal based on functionality, service, and a reasonable price, against the opposition’s free of charge.

At the meeting scheduled to finalise the contract, Steve’s new customer used the pen, given to him by the competitor, to sign the paper.  This was too big an opportunity to miss.  Steve wanted that pen as a trophy.  He offered to exchange his own gold-plated pen for the cheap plastic logo pen which had been used to sign the contract.  His customer readily agreed, happily joining in the joke.

Steve left the meeting with a signed contract, and what was to become his magic pen.

John chuckled at the story. Later he’d find out why that buyer had chosen to pay for a server when the alternative was available for free. Right now he still didn’t know why Steve was displaying the pen in his pocket. So he asked again.

This time the response was a broad smile. Steve carried the logo pen in his shirt pocket because, at every first meeting, his new prospects would ask why he was displaying the pen. Then he’d get to tell the story, of how his customer preferred to pay for Steve’s server, rather than have the competitors product for free.

Showing the pen in his shirt pocket caught the attention of potential customers.  They asked the question, and, as a result of hearing the story, realised they needed to seriously consider what Steve was saying about the strengths of his company and product.

The small detail of a plastic pen made a very big difference, bringing Steve more business his way and job promotions.

Do we need to add the competitor tried to recruit Steve several times?  Maybe it wanted it’s pen back?

End

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