Tag Archives: sales

Sales Secrets from Baja, California

By Jeff BealsJeff Beals

To unearth the age-old secrets of sales and marketing, I journeyed 2,600 miles to Cabo San Lucas on the extreme southern tip of Baja California Sur. Actually, it was just a vacation. But during what was a carefree trip spent mostly on the beach and in margarita bars, I inadvertently received a Mexican marketing lesson and crystal-clear insight into what it really takes to be successful in selling services and promoting products.

The unexpected lesson came at me from two different angles – from above and below. One angle was luxurious, affluent and exclusive; the other was “street selling,” marketing in a very traditional and primitive form.

Let’s start with the luxurious angle. We had the good fortune of staying in our friends’ opulent condo, a lavishly appointed place with an interior design worthy of an architectural magazine. As the guest of a resident, I was offered the “opportunity” to sit in an information session organized by the management company. Of course, the session was actually intended to sell me my own piece of real estate paradise (or at least a one-week share of it).

Normal vacationers run like hell when offered such an “opportunity.” Not me. I love real estate and am fascinated with marketing, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn. The free breakfast buffet and piña coladas were just icing on the cake.

Wow, the real estate agent was so effective – she was charismatic, well informed, a great conversationalist with such strong interpersonal skills. The meeting was private, not some presentation in an auditorium. The pitch was soft-sell, much more focused on relationship-building than high-pressure closings. We talked for two hours. Most of the time was spent discussing the local area. We talked about politics, culture and a great deal of Mexican history. She asked questions – lots of them. A good salesperson gets to know her prospects inside and out. She knew what information she wanted from me, and she got it.

In a clear attempt to play to my ego, she said, “The advantage of a time share is that you pre-pay your vacation. That means a man of your stature is essentially forced to set aside time in your busy schedule to relax and be with your family. That will make your wife happy and give your kids memories for a lifetime.”

Now, she obviously acted as if I was a much bigger deal than I really am, but what a great angle! She found what I valued and focused on how her product could satisfy that value.

Then there’s the other side of sales and marketing in Cabo. As is common in Mexican tourist towns, street hawkers are omnipresent. They sell everything from traditional souvenir items to whale-watching excursions to staged photos of you downing a shot of tequila on the beach while sporting an oversized sombrero.

There’s so much selling, you get kind of sick of it, which can lead to flippant brush-offs and irritated responses of “No gracias!” While walking to lunch one day with my wife and our friend, a street vendor approached me and displayed a handful of silver bracelets.

“Hey man, you need one of these for your pretty lady,” he said.

“Her? She doesn’t even like me anymore,” I responded playfully.

“Maybe this bracelet would help,” he said.

“It’s hopeless; nothing will help. She doesn’t want anything to do with me,” I insisted.

A pause and a smile… “Get one for your next wife!”

His humor and creativity stood out among the sea of street vendors all saying the same thing. What’s more impressive, however, is that he was trying to find something I valued. Had I been telling the truth, it may have been a successful pitch!

How interesting – the methods of selling I experienced on my Mexican vacation were very different, yet the lessons were the same: it all comes down to value! Whether you are selling exclusive real estate or future garage-sale items from a pushcart, you are successful when you find the buyer’s value points.

The successful marketer and the savvy salesperson know that people buy what they value and only what they value. It is the salesperson’s job to find out just what that value is. Value is determined by the prospective client, never by the seller or marketer.

How do you find what your prospective clients value? It’s simple. Start by building rapport and then ask the right questions.

The street hawker with the bracelets built rapport through humor and creativity. Because it was such a brief encounter, he didn’t have the luxury of asking me a lot of questions, but give him credit for trying to find my value point as quickly as possible.

The condo salesperson gave a textbook performance. She built rapport with me and asked the right questions. She now knows what I value. She didn’t make the sale, but I suspect I will hear from her periodically. When the day comes that I can justify such a frivolous expense, I do have her contact information.

You never know…. I just might call her someday.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.

Anything for a Sale

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Last year, my family’s two favorite TV shows were on the WB and UPN television networks. These two networks merged this fall to become the CW Television Network. Since our provider offered both networks, I was confident that would be no problem receiving the new network. I was wrong.

Repeated contacts to our provider via email resulted in no response whatsoever. My wife was aghast; I was not. My expectations were nil and they were squarely met, but that is a different story for a different time. Subsequent calls to our provider resulted in no satisfying results or tangible communication.

In the midst of this, a direct mail piece arrived from a competing provider. It offered a seemingly attractive price, free installation, and new equipment, including a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). This was an attractive enticement since our receiver and remote (free promotional incentives from our existing provider) were wearing out; the DVR would be a great bonus.

Upon calling the prospective provider, I talked to a helpful and confident agent, Karl. My first query was if they carried the CW network. Karl knew all about the merger (whereas most prior contacts did not) and assured us that they did in fact carry the new network. Additional probing revealed that my hope of slashing our bill was not to be realized, but still it was a worthy change as we would get the new network and new equipment, including a DVR.

My first clue that Karl’s veracity was questionable should have occurred when he insisted that no additional wiring would be needed to connect the second TV to the single receiver. I knew that this was technologically feasible via an RF signal as Karl explained, but I was dubious that such technology would be included in our free equipment. At this point, however, we had established a rapport and I trusted him to be both honest and ethical.

I confirmed my understanding of what Karl said and placed my order. A few days, the installer arrived and set up the system. He quickly gave an overview of its operation while the programming was downloading. I asked what number the CW network was. “That’s the new one, right?” he said. “I don’t know offhand, but it’s there someplace. If you can’t find, it call this number” and he handed me an information sheet.

Thirty minutes later and frustrated, I dialed that number. “I’m sorry,” the agent said. “I can only help you with installation issues and this isn’t an installation question. You’ll need to call the provider.” (We had apparently bought from an authorized agent.) The provider’s call center told me it would be an extra $5 a month to get the CW network. Mad at this unexpected news, I called my buddy Karl. Unfortunately, he was no longer my buddy. “I only deal with sales questions,” he stated curtly. “I can’t help you,” and he hung up.

My wife, who is tenacious in righting wrongs and fixing the unresolvable, took over our quest for the CW network. Over the next few days she called Karl, the service department, the installation line, and the billing department, as well as all the other numbers she was given. Several days and countless hours later, she resigned herself to accept that we had been had. During the course of our dealings, we have been told:

  • The CW Network is included in your service package.
  • The CW Network is available for only a dollar more a month.
  • The CW Network is available for five dollars a month.
  • The CW Network is not part of your local channels (even though it is a local channel, albeit an HDTV subcarrier).
  • The CW Network is available everywhere, but in your area.

There is much to be learned from this saga. One seemingly small miscommunication had widespread and far-reaching ramifications. One person’s words, either out of intentionality or ignorance, resulted in more that a dozen follow-up phone calls and a new customer who is angry and feels maligned. It will take great effort to overcome such a bad start. As such, several recommendations are in order:

  • Training: If the miscommunication was out of ignorance, then better training could have averted the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, the payback from training is not directly quantifiable, whereas sales numbers are. This is a dichotomous situation that managers must acknowledge and grapple with.
  • Call Monitoring: If the miscommunication was intentional, then some policing is in order. Active monitoring might have caught the error, could have eliminated the rouge employee, and certainly would have minimized all employees’ propensity towards untrue statements.
  • Incentives and Measurements: What gets measured gets done and what gets paid for gets done better. Again, if the miscommunication was intentional, then it was likely a calculated lie aimed at making a sale. Unfortunately, sales deaprtments measurement and reward systems often unwittingly serve for promote and foster activity and performance that is detrimental to an organization’s overall best interests. The big picture must be continually considered.
  • Third Parties Accountability: Whenever customer contact is relegated to a third party, control over transactions need to be retained and carefully tracked by the issuing party. Their organization is at risk and they need to be able to verify that they are being properly and ideally represented at all times. This involves more that just tracking monthly sales totals or costs per call.
  • Consistency: All staff need to have the same information, supported by the same technology, and reinforced by the same training so that they will tell customers the same thing. Furthermore, this needs to be synchronized with their websites and coordinated with marketing pieces: one message, many employees, multiple channels.
  • Quickly Salvage Mistakes: There is a ripple effect when a mistake is made. This occurs both within the organization has more and more people are pulled into the problem, as well as outside the organization as more and more people are told about the problem. Both take their toll. Front-line employees need to be empowered to act and to solve pressing issues, not encouraged to end the call just so they can take the next one.
  • Problem Resolution: After many calls, finally an agent apologized. But no one ever said, “What would you like done to resolve this?” No one ever suggested a course of action and recommended a solution.

At this time, we still do not have the CW Network, but Karl, who apparently will say anything to close the deal, did chalk up a sale.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is a published author and commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services.