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Posts Tagged ‘Selling’

It’s not uncommon to find ‘experts’ go so wrong in their trend predictions, but to freely admit it in ‘print’ and re-calibrate oneself is not.

Ask any retailing expert, guru or know-it-all worth their weight in consulting fees and they will all tell you the same thing: the future of physical stores rests with “experiential” formats that present shoppers with an immersive atmosphere that can’t be replicated online. But what happens when they are wrong? Over the past year or so, two of the most high-profile new retail startups in the country – Pirch in the kitchen and bath business and TreeHouse which was billed as the green home improvement store — have either shut their doors completely or drastically scaled back their operations. Each was considered by all manner of retail observers (including yours truly) as the poster child for the future of retailing, yet each failed to achieve success. And somewhere in the telling of these two tales lie some lessons for other retailers trying to sort out how to keep all those physical doors open.

The retail guru Warren Shoulbergwho ‘loved Pirch and TreeHouse…and said so to anybody who asked‘ is reassessing the retail scene of the ‘experiential’ kind in his recent blog post. What is best about his blog: his posts are short, readable in minutes affording an easy peek into an expert’s mind. And, I thought, they have applicability far beyond retail.

Read his crisp insight here.

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This is about the sage Viswamitra (V) requesting King Dasharatha (D) for his young son’s (aged 12 years or less), help to conduct a sacrifice successfully – he expects two demons to disrupt the ritual with their usual fiendish antics. The sage gives the reason for his request: on the eve of performing the sacrifice, he does not want to lose control of his mind and curse the demons all the way to their hell (through such outbursts, sages often lose their power gained after enduring practice of austere tapas).

It is described essentially in Sarga 19 of Bala Kanda in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

The source used for this analysis is here.

In the 21 verses contained in this Sarga, the sage makes 13 statements (five of them are compound with two parts) as under exactly in the same sequence, reproduced verbatim from the source:

  1. Born in an illustrious lineage and initiated by sage Vasishta, this way (of speaking) befits you.
  2. Take a decision and be truthful to your promise.
  3. Rama is valiant, young and true to his prowess.
  4. (a) Protected by me and (b) by his own divine power, Rama is capable of destroying even those demons causing impediments to the sacrifice.
  5. (a) I will confer upon him, without doubt, a lot of blessings for his well-being (b) by which he will attain fame in all the three worlds.
  6. Both of them (Maricha and Subahu) will not be able to withstand Rama in any way. Rama, and Rama alone, is capable of destroying them.
  7. Proud of their strength, the two wicked demons have been noosed by Yama, the god of death. O tiger among kings they are no match for the mahathmana Rama.
  8. (a) O king, it is not proper for you to hesitate because of your paternal affection. (b) You need to know that both the rakshasas will perish. This, I assure you.
  9. (a) I know Rama who is a great soul, true to his prowess and (b) also Vasishta of great luster and these other sages who have been steadfast in asceticism also know.
  10. O king of kings, if you are seeking the benefits of righteousness, great everlasting fame in this world, it is fit and proper to give Rama to me.
  11. Kakustha, if your counselors and all other sages headed by Vasishta give their consent, then only you may relieve Rama.
  12. (a) You should spare your dear son, the lotus-eyed Rama, (b) impartial and detached, (a) for ten nights.
  13. Dasharatha, descendant of Raghu, act in such a manner that the time for my sacrifice is not delayed. Do not indulge in grief. Prosperity to you”

After speaking these words charged with dharma and artha the great sage resplendent Viswamitra fell silent. 

It’s easy to see these 13 statements fitting into a well-structured script planned by the sage V as under, set roughly in the same sequence:

  • Starts with two praises of D, (1 and 2) for him to live up?
  • Next, first mention (3) is made, rather simply, of Rama’s prowess and, not so startlingly in passing, about his divine power in 4(b) (also the word ‘mahathmana’ in 7?).
  • Follows up talking about his personal support to stand by Rama in 4(a) and 5(a).
  • Names and belittles the enemies for reassurance vis-a-vis Rama’s ability in 6, 7, 8(b) and 9(a).
  • Time to bring more pressure and ‘carrots’ for D to oblige in 5(b), 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13.
  • Rounds up defining the duration of his demand for Rama’s assistance in 12(a) and also
  • Drawing support from other unassailable sources including his ‘arch rival’ sage Vasishta to buttress his assessment of Rama in 9(b) and 11.

Could it be better, you think?

Now for another interesting perspective: Going by the count (not by relative strengths) of the statements, it adds up to (each statement in full counts for one and part of a compound statement, half):  

  • So for D to be persuaded, there are 2 praises and 3.5 of pressures and
    ‘carrots’ for a total of 5.5 out of 13.
  • V’s personal support (‘his skin in the game’) assured for Rama makes up for 1 out of 13.
  • On Rama’s prowess, said matter-of-factly, it is 4.5 directly coming from him and another 1.5 of vouchsafing support from others for a total of 6 out of 13 on assessment of Rama’s abilities to meet the challenge.
  • Specifying duration of V’s demand is 0.5 out of 13.

Is that a good balance?

Some observations:

The sage’s assessment of Rama’s prowess is based more on his
insight than any precedent display. Nothing is said by the sage about Rama’s
equipment, no mention is made of specific astra-shastra’s
(weapons w/wo mantra’s) in Rama’s quiver – perhaps unnecessary, premature or
even inappropriate?

Rising above the family-pulls, Valmiki ends the Sarga with

‘Having listened to those auspicious words of Viswamitra, the king among kings, (Dasaratha) experienced intense grief out of fear. He became despondent.’

How could the words inducing fear and despondency in the virtuous other be considered as auspicious? Simply because the killing of those two demons – the sage had enough insight Rama would accomplish it despite being too young – was necessary (directly or otherwise) for the good of the kingdom at large, besides V himself gaining from it. Here’s a cardinal principle of well-being of a society, said not in so many words: the call of dharma is more powerful and must be heeded to than the tug of one’s heart-strings should there ever be a conflict. The same is asserted without ambiguity in different ways in statements: 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13. This comes to us in age when the principle is made to stand on its head, when parents amass wealth brazenly thru misdeeds for themselves and, more so, their children. Or, clouded by affection, they’re guilty failing to check adharmic acts of omission and commission of their near and dear.

Interestingly the phrase ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ in statement 12(a) is unimaginably double-edged!! How? The ready explanation is: Poets often compare beautiful eyes like those of Rama to lotus flowers in bloom. No surprises there. Now to the not-so-ready: Just as a lotus folds itself up in the night and come night, the young Rama goes off to sleep peacefully. And that is exactly when the demons become hyperactive. Is it fair to the sleepy young boy to be thrown against demons when they are in their elements?

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PS: The source is responsible for the translation of the
original verses, included here verbatim and not for the rest of the content in
the post. The interpretation of ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ comes from here.
Image from flipkart.

So you know to hurl the brickbats at whom:-}  

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Can teach Marketing/Advertising a trick or two!

From Jineesh Mathew:

jineesh mathew

 

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

 

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This is an edited extract from an interesting post on a topic much written about. from James Altucher, one of the few offering down-to-earth counsel that I like reading.

Cognitive biases are used in almost every sales campaign, business, marketing campaign, movie, news, relationship, negotiations, everything. Almost all of your interactions are dominated by biases and understanding them is helpful in standing up and seeing things for what they really are.

James takes up a rap song of all things and analyzes it for ideas how to be get better at persuasion!!

The song “Lose Yourself” is from the movie 8 Mile. Although I recommend it, you don’t have to see it to understand what I am about to write. I’ll give you everything you need to know.

Eminem is a genius at sales and competition and he shows it in one scene in the movie. A scene I will break down for you line by line so you will know everything there is to know about sales, cognitive bias, and defeating your competition.

First, here’s all you need to know about the movie:

Eminem is a poor, no-collar, white-trash guy living in a trailer park. He’s beaten on, works crappy jobs, gets betrayed, etc. But he lives to rap and break out somehow.

In the first scene he is having a “battle” against another rapper and he chokes. He gives up without saying a word. He’s known throughout the movie as someone who chokes under pressure and he seems doomed for failure.

Until he chooses himself.

The scene I will show you and then break down is the final battle in the movie. He’s the only white guy and the entire audience is black. He’s up against the reigning champion that the audience loves.

He wins the battle and I will show you how. With his techniques you can go up against any competition.

After he wins it, he can go on to do anything he wants. To win any battles. To even run the battles each week. But he walks off because he’s going to do his own thing. He chooses himself. The movie is autobiographical. 300 million records later he is the most successful rapper in history.

Here is the scene (8.55 mins) with explanatory subtitles:

 

In case of a problem playing it here, it may also be viewed on YouTube.

James also generously provides for supplementary reading here.

Also helps to know if you wish to do all you can in a competitive situation. For instance, you could show your competition as not in the prestigious ‘313’ group (quite the opposite of its negative connotation in the clip!)…

All in all a great effort, so effective in laying it bare for us in the shortest possible way. Thanks, James.

Of course, there are tomes on the subject to read if you so wish.

 

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words matter more than you would know, says Jack Dean – he should know from his extensive experience over the years, sitting on both sides of the table.

NightingaleCXO

Though he talks about B2B marketers, obviously it applies to other segments too. Excerpts from his article appearing here:

Have you ever noticed that the words and phrases used by CXO Buyers are somehow different? Their language is different. Their conversations are different. More formal, more direct, more reserved.

I don’t have studies or survey data to support what I’m about to say, but I know with certainty, having been a CXO Buyer influenced by them, that WORDS MATTER. When I was sitting on the other side of the desk as a CXO Buyer (and now during role play conversations in sales training workshops), I used the word choices of B2B marketers as a reliable predictor of their character and professionalism.

Of course, there are other aspects of personal character that are continuously being observed by CXO Buyers (e.g. like how you are dressed, how you treat your colleagues, what you say about your competition, how you control your emotions), but your word choices are, in my opinion, the most important predictor of character and professionalism…

If you believe that you have good-to-great “business-appropriate” language skills, recognize that that capability is a potential competitive selling advantage. My best recommendation is to actively seek out opportunities to CONVERSE with customers, especially CXO Buyers. Phone calls are better than emails. Face-to-face conversations are better than PowerPoint PDFs.

You get the idea … “professionally” flaunt your communication capabilities in order to differentiate from your B2B marketing peers.

My advice is simply an extension of the quote, “Deal with the world the way it is, not the way you wish it to be”. Use your business language skills to your advantage.

 

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Source: Image from aircomfortchairs.com

 

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…where to spend the bucks!

A lightly edited excerpt from an article by Josh Elman appearing here. Though dated, the anecdote and the concept are still relevant, I thought. And for companies not merely in the product space. Here we go:

twitter-bird-white-on-blue

Pretty much every new app has the following problem: lots of people sign up but don’t stick around.

I frequently get asked what are benchmarks for retention after one day or one week. My answer tends to be the same for products in the early days:

Ignore the benchmarks. Find the patterns in the stories of people who do get your product. Figure out what converted them and got them so excited to keep using your product every day or every week. In the early days, your main focus should be to attract and create more and more of those “core users” who deeply use your product. Over time you can try to increase averages, but first, you just need a core and strong base.

Most people look too much at the “big data” and try to draw conclusions. In the early days of a product you have to talk to people. You need anecdotes much more than data. You could say The plural of anecdote is data.

To collect anecdotes, you have to talk to actual users. The best users to call are ones who can help you understand why they tried your product and what hooked them. I like to look for bouncebacks. Bouncebacks are users that have tried your product, bailed immediately and didn’t find it useful, came back to try again for some reason (at least 1 week later, or even better, 1 month later), and then got hooked.

The first step is to identify some bounceback users to call…

From these patterns, you can invest in revising your marketing and improving your product and onboarding. Revamp your messaging to focus more on the messages that brought people back and got them engaged. Update your product and onboarding to simplify whatever the users did the second time to get fully engaged…

We learned from early users that many of them signed up for Twitter and thought it was just a megaphone. When they had nothing to say, and didn’t otherwise understand the product they bailed. When they later heard about how valuable Twitter could be if they followed their reverend or the food truck that broadcasts its location every day, they came back and tried again. But this second time they specifically sought out people to follow and had a good experience. We rapidly rebuilt our onboarding to focus much more on following and finding the right people which caused significant increases in how many users were activated after signing up. We revised our messaging to talk much more about finding and following the right people on Twitter instead of talking about tweeting and broadcasting.

I recommend doing this exercise of interviewing new bounceback users every 6 months. You’ll learn a lot about how to keep improving your adoption and activation.

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Source: Image from publiclibrariesonline.org

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