Re-inventing Sales?

I am a sales person. In my world that means I do not have a salary and I work for commission. I can relate to David Ogilvy’s quote, “no sale, no commission, no eat.”

I have to admit I appreciate Jim Edwards comments concerning the humbling experience of sales. I believe everyone should try selling at least one time in their life where their income is based on their ability to locate and sell clients on your products and/or services. You will be humbled. It is not an easy job.

Jim Edwards’ article addresses the OgilvyOne’s competition to find the “world’s greatest sales person” and claims that they won’t. Based on the requirements he states they will only locate the “most entertaining sales video maker.” Thank you. Thank you…for pointing out that sales expertise does not boil down to some two-minute YouTube video.

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Chick-fil-A and Branding…

John and I were in Austin over the weekend for the Jerry Jeff Walker birthday bash. Before returning to Dallas we drove around Austin and stopped at a Chick-fil-A for a quick lunch. It happened to be Jeff Glover’s Chick-fil-A. Now, I don’t know Jeff at all, but I would think his restaurant is well-known to his franchise peers. It was an experience unlike any I’ve ever had, in ANY fast food restaurant.

From the moment we walked in, I noticed the elegant music, clean windows and floors. Neatness and order were evident everywhere. The employees were well-groomed with all shirt tails tucked in. They were ready for the lunch crowd. There were black tablecloths on the tables and a black vase with fresh colorful flowers sat upon each table. We were greeted warmly when we ordered. Although we weren’t familiar with the service, we noticed after we had waited for our food tray that most guests seated themselves and the servers brought their trays to them at their tables. At the end of my meal a server asked me if I would like any more of my soft drink. After refilling she asked if she could take my tray, I said yes and thanked her and she responded with one of my favorite responses. “I’m happy to.”

I’m happy to. I’m happy to…I’m HAPPY to? What a simple under-utilized phrase. What a well-trained staff…many kudos to the owner, Jeff Glover. What a pleasant place to eat that never once felt contrived or uncomfortable. What an experience it was for a quick simple lunch.

Would you consider what Jeff has done as branding? Branding is a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service, or business. The Chick-fil-A brand is already backed up by the franchise with logos, signage and advertising. But what Jeff has accomplished is to distinguish his brand above the rest. Identity is one thing; but to be distinguished is an entire different level of recognition. Jeff’s restaurant is distinguished. If there is a goal for any business owner it would be to develop a higher level of service marked by excellence and leadership. At the end of the day is your goal to be identified or distinguished? I know which one I’d rather be.

Marketing with Variable Data~

When I sift through my daily mail, four things happen in this order.

1) Any personal letters and cards are opened and read first.
2) I might open a bill if I’m in the mood; otherwise, bills are put aside to be opened when I’m in the mood.
3) Magazines and newsletters have their own “to be read at leisure” basket.
4) Direct mail is what remains; and takes the most time to sift through because it arrives in the form of letters, big letters, bigger boxed letters and post cards. The letter versions are the most annoying and cumbersome because they might contain information I need to know. I have to be careful because in the past I’ve almost thrown out concert tickets and my tax refund! It’s the post cards that are fairly easy to deal with.

Each post card receives a cursory look, but it’s either immediately tossed into the recycle bin or kept in a pile for a second review. What is it that would keep me from recycling it at first glance? It might be that I’m in the market for a product or service the offer displays. Something was relevant to me…something caught my eye. This is the goal of marketing with direct mail. The advertiser wants us to stop for a moment and pay attention.

Most marketers have heard about variable data. But, did you know that “data” includes pictures? Wouldn’t you stop and pay attention to an ad if it were relevant to you? If I noticed a Brittany Spaniel on a post card from Petco I’d stop to look because I like Spaniels. If you’re weirs furniture store and have a data base, do you know the style each of your clients like? If so, are you using variable “data” to replace the picture with the style they prefer? If you did, you would get a higher response rate from your direct mail.

Variable printing is more expensive per piece than traditional static mailers and it does require a data base with intelligent information beyond only a name and address. But, if you print less and increase your ROI, what’s stopping you? How can we help you?

The Power

People have power, whether they are empowered by their title of owner, manager or simply by group strength.

I just reread Jack London’s South of the Slot. It’s a terrific short story about a man who for a time lives on both sides of the slot, which is just a metaphor for class division. He is Freddie, a sociology professor on one side who wants to gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the working class people to write his papers. To gather the material he needs, he spends months living south of the slot as a working man. During this time he becomes successful living the life of Big Bill Tot. London compares the progressive life of Freddie to the discontent of Bill Tot’s life. You’ll need to read the story yourself to discover which life Freddie chooses and his reasons why may surprise you.

In all companies, there are various groups of people who work together to create a product or provide a service. Our combined focus and cooperation will ultimately determine the profitability of our collective work. Every one of us has the power to choose and the power to make a difference.

Rock Stars of the Internet

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately about inbound marketing. The fact that I’m a sales person and I sell printing is quite a challenging proposition in today’s environment. I’m not sure what to do anymore. I’ve been reading that I’m not supposed to reach out and contact people via the internet, that would be spamming. I’m encouraged to develop an on-line persona that, if I’m really good, will make people want to do business with me. How can I, among all the other deserving sales professionals be discovered from the enormous amounts of competition on the internet? I have enough problems getting an audience in my own backyard of Dallas. If I completely relied on that ideology I think I’d starve before anybody would notice.

I’ve attended round tables and watched as business owners and sales professionals fret over the new revolution in sales and marketing. One business owner bemoaned that he is doing everything inbound marketers say will work. Create a presence, be memorable, blog, have a great product and sit back and the people will find you. I’m thinking that might work for the rock stars of the internet but will it work for the masses? It’s akin to having your SAG card. There are only enough roles for a select few actors and the majority will get small parts while the elite cream of the crop rises for the millions of dollars they get for starring roles. What about the majority of businesses, will inbound marketing work for them?

I’m still learning so I’m going to try something viral within the next two weeks. The word viral sounds infectious to me. Oh, I guess that’s the point, but infectious, is that good? If it’s on the internet, I’m told it is good. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What is your Plan B?

I like to count my life in summers so this will be my 51st one. When you think about it, we don’t get that many summers. Our daily routines help us to count away the hours before the next day, then the next month, a season, and then another year has passed. We pay our bills, schedule our appointments and celebrate the same holidays over and over. Although there is nothing wrong with routine what would happen if you mixed it up a little?

Early on in our printing careers John and I realized that our family life was not going to be easily maintained by a set routine. The hours we have to keep if we’re running press okays deep into the night are not scheduled. Plan B became our reliable, acceptable back up plan for what little routine we could establish. Over the years we’ve had to reschedule vacations and tag team picking up the kids. It’s easier now that the kids are self-reliant but we still resist a set schedule.

What is my Plan B for my blog? Maybe I’ll drive to work by a different route. Maybe I’ll ask a different coworker to lunch. Maybe I’ll introduce myself to somebody new everyday for the next year. Maybe I’ll just mix it up a little and see what happens.

XYZ – I love the internet!

Imagine my surprise when I Googled XYZ and came up with a reference to printing. I’m impressed by how easily the internet search engines can locate relevant information from a seemingly random entry.

The XYZ references a series of experiments used to define color spaces in the 1920’s, 30’s and redefined again in 1964. The CIE 1931 XYZ color space, mathematically valued three parameters to describe color sensations or wavelengths seen by the human eye. Those three parameters were the basis for establishing values we currently use to define color or RGB.

RGB is the color gamut used in computers and TV monitors. Printers use the CMYK ink combination to replicate RGB color in the printing process. It’s a lot more complicated than my simple explanation, but just knowing there is a connection to my XYZ post to printing is impressive.

And, to think that I was going to make my husband’s day by telling him I was going to write about the XYZ Band. OK, I’ll tell you anyway. The XYZ Band was a proposed super group made up of ex Yes and Zeppelin members: (hence the XYZ) Jimmy Page, Chris Squire, Alan White and Robert Plant. After their first rehearsal Plant decided not to continue and the idea for the proposed group never formed. There, I still got in the other reference to XYZ that probably has a larger audience than my print reference.

Who could have imagined years ago that such random information would be so easily accessed? The power of the internet is both amazing and frightening.