CARPETS AND SILKS, INDIA (2)

The second stage of the sales cycle was to show us how they made a carpet.

2013 12 28 India carpets_-14

Hand woven and then burned with a torch to remove the extra silk.

2013 12 28 Jaipur_-69

An intricate process of burning (to tighten and seal the knots) and shaving. With the wool carpets he took a blade to the fibers to finish the process.

2013 12 28 Jaipur_-70

2013 12 28 Jaipur_-17

While it is all staged to facilitate the sales process just like in other places such as Murano, Italy, it was interesting to watch. The problem I have as a “tourist” is what is the right price? This vendor was pitching us rugs that ran from $5K-$12K USD. While I know silk rugs in downtown Toronto often go for that price (or more), I was instantly on the defensive. Certainly they send those to foreign markets at a fraction of the cost – so what is the right price?

In the end, that is why we did not buy. Perhaps we would have if we felt there was a compelling reason and a deal to be had due to the “buy from the source” scenario.

IT DIDN’T START AS A CHRISTMAS LIST

 

I walked into Henry’s last weekend with a simple goal, explore the options for a low light lens for my Canon 40D (which I brought along). I have been frustrated with shots where I do not have a flash, but still want a crisp shot (Like Ethan’s school play, where he had a major role and I found it tough to get that great, low light clear shot).

The staff in the shop are very knowledgeable and after a relatively short discussion, I landed on the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (Although Aden Camera has it at a lower cost .. so will need a price match).

I now have something to request for under the tree. A single item does not a list make. But he was not done with me …..

The clerk then asked me about the lens on my 40D for walking around. ‘You see’ he pointed out ‘You really need to think about upgrading that glass (The term that we non-expert photographers are not allowed to use), because that really isn’t a great lens’.

I took it hook line and sinker. ‘Really?’ I responded.

By the time I was finished understanding just how deficient my kit is (Other than my 70-200mm zoom lens), I was left wondering how it was possible that I had gotten a single good shot in the last couple years?

It was pretty clear, thanks to his fantastic ‘purchasing roadmap guidance’ that a list was needed. He laid it out so neatly:

1. The 50mm, already decided. That is first.

2. Upgrading the walk around lens to either a Canon 17-55mm F2.8. UNLESS …. I decide to act on purchase roadmap point Number 3 (which he insisted really isn’t an option if I want great shots), in which case I need a Canon 24-70mm F2.8 USM due to his educating me on the difference between a cropped and un-cropped camera. (I have read a ton since, seems that the 24-70mm might be a good choice regardless of cropped/full frame .. although there is no definitive answer!)

3. An upgrade to a full frame DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark II.

LOL. He did a great job because I didn’t leave feeling that he had pressured me in anyway. He painted a picture for me. At one point he even said ‘Make sure you shop around’.

I do love a great salesperson and watching an upsell.

THE ART OF (KILLING) THE DEAL

A must read for every salesperson, Ben Stein on The Art of (Killing) the Deal. I personally found the following deal killers top of mind with me:

·         You are doing all the talking. I have done hundreds, if not thousands of presentations and to me, nothing is worse than a lack of interactivity. I will often stop and request comments, draw out discussion, get the customer speaking. Nothing is a bigger business killer than a one way conversation.

·         You think you are more important than the customer. This one kills me and I will admit, there are times when I have groaned about the inconvenience of a meeting, but in the end, the customer always comes first. Just the other day, I was unhappy because I need to travel 45 minutes to the same spot, two days in a row and tried to force it into one day. But, in the end, I could not get frustrated with my assistant because I always say ‘Everything else can move, customer first’.

·         Don’t sweat the details. This one kills me and I think that 90% of reps don’t take this seriously. The details are the thank you note, remember names, remembering details about people, birthdays, going that extra mile on holidays, etc. I will blog more on this one soon, but it is one that drives me crazy and I see very few sales reps do it well. Those who do, always have a higher chance of success. Every sales rep should adhere to the MacKay 66, or something like it.

LAND A BETTER JOB

 Another great side bar article in Men’s Health (Sept 2006) was called ‘Land a better job’. The lines of questioning are often predictable in job interviews, but these a couple good ones. I blog them for future reference.

Q: Why should we hire you?   I produce results, and I have strong analytical skills and good initiative. Wouldn’t you like to work with a manager with 3 years experience in this position who’s a breeze to get along with?

Like that answer, and like how you can build on it (adding, ‘who gets things done’, add in a few examples). I remember in my last job interview (current role), the hiring manager was tough on me, and he was my last interview when I first came to the company. In my interview with him the first time around, he said to me ‘Are you the kind of guy who get’s stuff done? I need those kind of people.’

This time around, when he hit me with this one I looked him square and said ‘Because I am the guy who got it done for you for the last 4 years, and I will do the exact same thing here. I will run with this, I will ensure you are never surprised and I will nail this job. We both know it’

Q: What is one of your weaknesses?  I’d like to understand the nitty gritty of technology better so I can use it to implement my best ideas. The advise to forget the ploy of strength as a weakness (‘I’m a workaholic’), it is too transparent (I agree). Be real .. as long as it is not something like ‘I have a temper’.

Q: Why are you leaving your current job?  I feel like I’ve come a long way in the 3 years I’ve worked at initech (LOL, they reference Office Space), but I think now is the time to branch out into new areas.

Trash talking the old boss is a fools game. Everyone interviewer looks at you as their potential direct report or as a potential ex-employer. They do not want their weaknesses broadcast to the world. Focus instead on how the new job will allow for new challenges. Come across as a motivated self starter.

Q: What do you do with your off time?  I have a 3 year old daughter who keeps me on my toes. But I still shoot hoops on the weekends with college friends, and I’ve been reading about the revolutionary war’

They reference that the interviewer thinks that they will be seeing this person allot and it is almost like you are hiring a potential friend. I disagree with this, but think it is healthy to show well roundedness. After all, the workaholic will burn out and if I were hiring, I would want well rounded to bring new ideas, thoughts, approaches.

Interesting article.

NAVIGATE AN EVENT

Men’s Health magazine (September 2006) has a great article on the office. A sidebar article talks about navigating the office party (Titled ‘She’s hot. The boss is drunk. Make the office party work for you anyway’).

In my role, I am often put into situations where I need to ‘work a room’. A few of their office party tips are very relevant to sales people and/or sales managers, in no particular order:

1.       Hold your drink in your left hand: your right should be busy glad handing.

2.       Make sure your drink is empty before you join a new group. Use the empty vessel as an excuse to change groups. (I would also add that you should always take half drinks at the bar to ensure maximum flexibility of movement without drinking too much – see bottom)

3.       Always stay on your feet to increase social mobility, and introduce people. Be the one who is making connections. People will look at you and say “Here is someone you need to know, people will look at you as a connecting point and will return the favour”

4.       Hopping from conversation to conversation can make you look like a climber. Always looking over shoulders and you will be resented. Want to maximize face time, stand where there is lots of traffic.

Some other points from my own handbook:

  • Evaluate the crowd. If this is your event (You are the host), look for gaps. Important client alone or with the wrong people? Interject, be the connector, ensure they are comfortable. I remember a bad scenario where we had a big dinner and the rep did not control seating. The most important exec was last to sit (through the mingling) and was left sitting with a low level table. I looked on in horror as it happened (And ‘educated’ the rep afterward). As soon as I could break out, I hit his table and spent the rest of the evening at his table.
  •  Take control. When seating, take the time to think it out. Put the right people beside the right people. This applies to meetings and dinner events. For example, if in a meeting, think about breaking up tribes, of ensuring there isn’t an ‘us and them’ scenario (i.e. Where your team is on one side, they are on the other or your team is at the back, they are at the front. Intermingle).
  • Remember, always on. Want to enjoy yourself? Take your spouse out for dinner, go drinking with buddies. You are on the job. You are not allowed to sit in the corner, or stick with the ‘comfy guy/gal’ you like. You’re on, be on and control your drinking. Let someone else fall over.

SALESMAN’s VERSION OF “A Few Good Men” SPEECH

Sales:  “You want answers?”

Expense Admin: “I think we are entitled to them!”

Sales: “You want answers?”

Expense Admin:  “I want the truth!”

Sales: “You can’t handle the truth!!!”

Sales:  “ Son, we live in a world that requires revenue.  And that revenue must be brought in by people with elite skills.  Who’s going to find it?  You?  Mr. Operations?  We have a greater responsibility than you can’t possibly fathom.

You scoff at the sales division and curse our lucrative incentives.  You have that luxury.  You also have the luxury of no knowing what we know: that while cost of business results are excessive, it drives in revenue.  And my very existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, drives REVENUE!!!

You don’t want to know the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about in board meetings…you want me on that call.  You NEED me on that call!!!  We use words like stop loss, cost management, network discounts and transparency.  We use these words as the backbone of a life spent negotiating opportunities.  You use them as a punch line!!!

I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the very blanket of revenue I provide and then question the very manner in which I provide it.  I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way.  Otherwise I suggest you pick up a phone and make some calls.  Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!”

Expense Admin:  “Did you expense the $4000 dinner for 4 and the $500 bottles of wine?”

Sales:  “I did the job I was hired to do!!!”

Expense Admin:  “Did you expense the $4000 dinner for 4 and the $500 bottles of wine?”

Sales:  “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I DID!!!”

TENACITY AND THE HANDWRITTEN NOTE

For at least 5 years, I have been getting these once quarterly snail mails. The mail includes a clipping from a magazine called ‘executive focus’ (Which, from my online searches, appears to be a fake magazine).
The article is on public speaking and attached to the ‘torn out’ article (It is not torn out and it looks like and advertisement type article) is a post-it note with the following handwritten note:
Michael, try this. It works!  J
At the end of the article, the address and subscription detail to American Speaker is circled with a check mark.
The first couple times I got this, I actually thought it was someone sending it to me, someone who knew me. Obviously, that is not the case. But, I admire their persistence. They keep at it after all these years. I have never signed up, public speaking is not an area (perceived or real) weakness for me.
It is a strategy I have used before, and one I will use in the future, but in a different way. I fid a quick handwritten note is an effective sales technique and in today’s world of billions of daily email, mail is becoming a way to differentiate.