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A Science & Engineering OnLine Laboratory Notebook   
This is the laboratory notebook of Damon Bruccoleri. Here you will find engrossing, thoughtful and fun commentary/opinion. Leave a comment and let others know what you think about any post here, view my photo gallery, or sign my guestbook.


"...one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought." - Albert Einstein

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 Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sales, Give People What they Want [continued]   
[...start of this lab note]
Tie_Mid_Blue_SM.jpgOne quick story. When I was first trying my hand at sales I approached one of my competitors and we had a nice discussion about the educational market. I recognized him for how successful he was and asked him for his advice. He said something that I will remember till this day, more than 20 years later. He said "Damon", then he gave this long dramatic pause. I knew he was going to say something profound. He then waited a few seconds; it seemed like an eternity. He looked me straight in the eyes (salespeople do that to unsettle engineers I think, they know people well). He continued on, "When someone asks you for a blue tie, you give them a blue tie. Not a red tie or multi-colored tie. A blue tie."

It's taken me time to understand that simple advice.

The first lesson is the obvious. When a customer asks you for a particular solution/product, give it to him. It is a mistake to be looking to generalize a product into some larger abstract market solution.  My most common desire back then was wanting to design a product that solves everyones problems all at once.  I now believe that most people, before they go shopping, have some vision of what they want to get (not counting impulse purchases). They are going to purchase the product that best fits that vision at the best price and probably not some high priced monstrosity that claims to do everything.  This is particularly true in business.

A second lesson is also obvious.  Give people what they want, not what you want them to have. Don't try to second guess the customer.  Assume the customer is intelligent and knows what they want.  Don't assume once they see some alternate solution they will realize they were wrong and buy into your solution.

Another lesson: Giving people a blue tie is not that simple. There is no need to create a larger problem to solve. The simpler product is a difficult enough problem as it is! What you need to get into your head is that the best thing you can do is to give the customer the best blue tie at the cheapest price you can. There will be enough work in figuring out what blue, and what makes a tie a tie, etc.. After you figure those things out you have to integrate the two together, blue and tie. Then, possibly, you need to create a system to mass produce it. It is easy to underestimate the enormity of the problem.

Sometime the customer is savvy enough to give you a spec. Listen to it! Read it! You are lucky to have that spec. It makes listening so much easier. Realize that any deviation from the spec will cause an issue that needs to be addressed, and questions are not a good thing.

Finally, recognize the customer has told you want they want. 'All' you have to do is to give them what they want and collect their money. Realize that from this point forward you can muck up a sale. Be careful.

Really listening is not easy.

admin4 at 1:10 PM |
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