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Selling to Women

Yesterday I received a courtesy visit from my local business banker. He also brought a representative from the consumer banking side. As smart salespeople their goal was to meet with me (they were new with the bank and had never met me before) and find out what I do; fill me in on what they were doing; keep me abreast of any new services they now offer and see if there’s anything I might need that they could help me with.

As it turned out there was something I needed that I didn’t know they had, so I signed up for it. Amazing what can happen when you show up and actually tell people what you’re doing.

But the point of this article is that we were talking about my house and mortgages, when the question came up about who my builder was, which of course led to a very interesting and illuminating story.

When we first decided to build, back around 1997, we were recommended to a local builder who had done quite a bit of work in Chapel Hill. We gave him a small deposit (which was refundable should we decide to back out) and got ready to work with him on building our new home.

Then the cracks started to show. First, many of his references were not coming back with glowing reports. You have to wonder; how does someone give you references if he’s not sure they’re going to give him top grades? But the biggest problem was with my wife.

She noticed that each time we met with the builder he would address all his comments, questions and answers toward me and totally ignore my wife. Not only was my wife not too crazy about this, but, as a logical person, I thought this was kind of stupid.

Think about it. If you’re a builder speaking to a married couple about the house you’re going to build for them, why would you ignore the wife? First off, you shouldn’t ignore anyone, but if you have to ignore someone, you’re far better off ignoring the husband.

Let’s face it; if the husband wants something in the house and the wife doesn’t; chances are they’re not getting it. But if the wife wants it and the husband doesn’t, THEY’RE GETTING IT!

Needless to say, this builder got dumped and we found another one who not only did a better job, but found us a better property and brought the project in for $20,000 less than the first guy.

I thought of this story again today as I was watching the Today Show. (No I don’t make a habit of watching this show, but my daughter was appearing on it as part of a promo for a movie about Jump Rope she and her teammates are going to be in; but that’s another story). They did a piece on Alpha Moms; high powered women who own businesses and raise families. They made the point that women control 80% of the purchases in the home, and since they spend at least 90 minutes a day online, they are very savvy consumers.

You’d think with all the purse strings today’s women control, companies and salespeople would be a heck of a lot more savvy in how they market and sell to this exploding segment of the economy. Yet, there are still salespeople who will approach a married couple by addressing all comments to the husband or walk into an office and assume the man is the boss.

It was pointed out that 70% of all car purchases are made by women, but there are still many women who tell me they hate walking into dealerships because they’re either ignored, talked down to, or told to come back with their husbands.

Women are the primary bread-winners in 45% of all two paycheck households and the primary bread-winners in 55% of all American households (lots of single parent households). Women start up businesses at a far faster rate than men. In addition, there are more women in law school and med school than men and on the undergraduate level the ratio of women to men is fast approaching 3 to 2.

While many companies have made a concerted effort to capitalize on this exploding gold mine over the last ten years, it amazes me how many are still living in the dark ages. But I guess that’s why it’s so easy to be successful: there’s so little competition.

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Response to The Simplest Way to Save Money

Back in January, I posted an entry, The Simplest Way to Save Money: Ask. In it, I told the story of how my wife and I saved $350 on a new water heater we had installed simply by questioning the quoted price. I also gave other examples of how to save money just by questioning every company you do business with and asking for price breaks and special deals.

Recently, I received the following comment regarding this article:

“Although I appreciate and agree with the point of your post I would add that you should comparison shop also. What appears in the accompanying picture is your garden variety water heater. Walk into any Sears and you will find the top rated (both efficiency and heating) 55gal water heater for around $350 with an install cost of $450 for a total of $800. Somehow I think your plumber saw an opportunity and took it.”

RJT

It just so happens that a Consumer Report site for blogs had linked to this entry and posted an excerpt as well as a picture of a typical water heater in an unfinished basement. Unfortunately, this picture is not mine and does not do justice to my situation.

So I can see why the commenter made that suggestion.

However, this got me thinking, and I’d like to point out some very important things that far too many salespeople seem to forget on a regular basis:

  • Not every customer wants the exact same thing. Remember, customers buy for their reasons, not the salesperson’s. Find out what those reasons are first, DON’T ASSUME.
  • Before you make assumptions about what a customer has, get all the facts first. It’s very possible a customer might be paying more because they’re getting a lot more.

Let me explain.

I love getting a deal as much as the next person, but I also love speed, ease and convenience as much, if not more. The last thing I feel like doing when it comes to saving just a few hundred dollars is comparison shopping. My time is extremely valuable.

Just one trip to Sears would kill at least two hours, not to mention the fact that Sears is not exactly at the top of my list when it comes to service and quality salespeople. To go to two or three other places would kill an entire day, minimum. If I kill a day shopping for a water heater, I’ve lost money, no matter how much I’ve saved.

Now once I’ve found the water heater, I need to depend on an independent plumber who does installations for Sears! Not something I feel like doing. Most plumbers are independent business people working on their own. While they might be very good at what they do, many are lousy business people who don’t understand good business practices, such as, showing up on time; quality customer service; and backing up your promises.

In fact, I don’t use a plumber per se; I use a plumbing, heating and cooling service. They are a business, a real business that is run like a business. They are full service. They will dispatch workmen to your home very quickly. I have never had a problem getting someone to come over when I want them there. They also have product catalogues with them so you never have to leave the house.

Once we narrowed down our choice of water heaters we looked at their quality ratings on the internet and chose the best one.

Now because the company pays the plumbers and technicians and keeps a cut for themselves, it costs me a little extra, but I don’t mind, because the convenience and peace of mind is worth it to me.

In other words, who is the customer and what do they really want?

Now for point two. This job was done quickly with absolutely the least amount of hassle. I also spent extra on a ten year warranty covering all parts and labor (ease and peace of mind), and this particular water heater (we have 2 in our house) is located in the attic. This means whoever installs it has to first bring it up a long staircase in the entry way, then has to bring it up the pull down staircase that leads to the attic. It is a job for two men, meaning additional costs. I guarantee you Sears wouldn’t have done it for $450.

As a salesperson, before you make claims about your product and service find out exactly what the prospect or client has. Far too often I find when someone tells you. “I can do the same thing cheaper,” what they usually mean is, “I can do the same thing cheaper by taking out a few things that are probably not that important anyhow.” Maybe to them they’re not, but to the customer they’re priceless.

Every customer is different. Find out what they want, and then most importantly give them what they need.

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TGIM: Thank God It’s Monday!

My friend, Hasse Olsson, a very successful sales trainer and owner of The Revenue Factory in Sweden has a great saying: “Thank God it’s Monday.”

Hasse hates it when he hears people say, “Thank God it’s Friday,” since he believes that it reflects the kind of attitude that unsuccessful people are constantly weighing themselves down with. I agree. It’s amazing how common phrases can sum up our attitudes so well.

Think about the message you’re sending to yourself and the perception you’re creating for others when you say, “Thank God it’s Friday.”

First off, you’re telling yourself and others that you really hate what you do. But if that’s not bad enough, what it conveys to me is that someone is willing to be miserable for five days just to be somewhat happy for two, and only to start the torture over again on Monday (Actually, I think most people start torturing themselves on Sunday night). Rather than be miserable over 70% of the time, why not do something about it?

The thing about people who say “Thank God it’s Monday,” is that they attract others with their positive, uplifting attitude. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but when you really enjoy what you do, it’s never a job.

This has nothing to do with not enjoying your weekends! Instead of them being your temporary salvation, they should just be another way to have FUN during the week.

If people buy from people and not from companies, which we know to be true; do you think they want to buy from someone who wants the week to be over with or from someone who’s happy to be there and can’t wait to be back tomorrow?

So save the TGIF’s for the restaurant chain (do they serve anything that doesn’t have cheese or cream sauce all over it?) and make your life something to enjoy ALL week long.

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Response from a Salesperson: Great Comments!

Last week I posted a blog entry, Response From a Salesperson. It contained an email that was sent to me by a particularly disgruntled, and obviously unsuccessful salesman who sells power sports vehicles at a Yamaha dealership. If you read his email, you’ll be amazed at his contempt for the customer, as well as anyone doing a better job (which seems to be everyone).

The good news is that last week I mentioned he represents a small minority of Yamaha dealer salespeople, and now I’m pleased to say I have some proof in the many comments I’ve received on this article. Instead of replying to each one individually in the comment section, I’d like all of you to see them along with my responses.

Warren –

Thanks for your comments. As a Gen Y-er myself, I am disappointed when folks like "Rodm850g" exhibit such hatred toward us young people. It makes me think we’ve got an entire generation that somehow skipped being twenty-somethings. Thanks for sticking up for us.

Jeb Brooks

No problem Jeb. I happen to know a lot of terrific, sharp Gen Yer’s like yourself, including my son Michael, and my web guru Dean, who is responsible for all 4 of my websites, including this one. It’s obvious Resentful Rod (from now on his new name) has a real problem with people who can afford things that he can’t. Maybe he should work a little harder and a lot smarter.

Warren…

It seems pretty obvious that Rodm850g will not be in the power sport business for long. If he doesn’t like his client base that "walks" in then perhaps he needs to take action and "invite" the client type he wants in to the showroom. Doesn’t the client that purchases a performance machine usually brag and show it off to friends? Isn’t that one of the purposes of ownership? He needs to work the referral base of the "qualified" client–bring in the "friends." As a generality that client hangs with like, kind and quality.

So, he is missing more opportunity than just the "prejudged" client.

Rhonda Knudson- Kansas

Rhonda,

You are obviously one of the many successful power sports salespeople I alluded to. As my mother used to say, “From your mouth to God’s ear!"

Rhonda makes some outstanding points, the best of which is, “If he doesn’t like his client base that walks in then perhaps he needs to take action and invite the client type he wants into the showroom.”

Great idea! Why do so many people assume that retail salespeople have to sit around and wait for the door to open? What happens on bad weather days? Obviously people like Resentful Rod starve. Maybe he should go call everyone he’s ever sold (hopefully there are some of these people), ask them for referrals and follow up with a phone call inviting them into the dealership.

Warren,

WOW, it’s hard to believe that salespeople like that can make a living in this competitive power sports business.

This guy needs to go back to school to learn our English language…or at least use spell check for Pete’s sake!

My recommendation for RodM850g is to take the civil service test and go work for the government.

Sean

Great to hear from another excellent power sports salesperson. Don’t worry, I’m sure Resentful Rod is not making much of a living; otherwise he wouldn’t be so resentful of those who are doing better than him.

Did you ever notice how everyone always recommends a government job to those who can’t make it in the private sector? No wonder one of the worst things you can ever hear is, “Hi, we’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.”

Warren & your blog readers,

This Rod person needs to sit down with his manager and/or less frustrated peers and learn how to qualify the showroom visitors better.

A few simple questions upfront might give him clues that certain prospects shouldn’t be led down the path where he is forced to "dazzle with actual product knowledge" or go through the application process.

Also, he should understand that there might be value in talking to disqualified prospects if he can generate the patience to deal with such people.

I try to keep an open mind and not pre-judge accounts that may not seem that qualified upfront, because I will either learn something from those accounts or be pleasantly surprised when they turn into decent prospects.

If Rod cannot learn some new approachs and gain a better attitude, then it’s time to move on to a job that doesn’t involve unfamiliar people.

Mike W

Wow! I’d say Yamaha is in good hands, judging from people like Mike W, Sean and Rhonda and let’s not forget Resentful Rod’s co-worker who saves all my newsletters and uses the ideas.

I’m with Mike. If I was in the same situation, I’d talk to everyone. So what if they don’t qualify! Chances are they just might know someone who does. Just remember one of my favorite expressions: “You never know.” Some of my best and most profitable clients have come from some of the most unlikely places.

Warren,

In agreement with the comments here, especially Mike W. and Rhonda, who are obviously on top of their game.

About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to have my Dad finance an ATV from a local power sports dealer when I was in high school. The first time I went into the store, the salesperson paid very close attention to me and asked me more questions than I really cared to answer! I just wanted to go in and gawk, but his questions really got me excited about what I wanted, and that week I begged my dad to help me out. My Dad agreed as long as I made good on about 4,500 stipulations! I made good.

It’s true most young people just go in and climb all over everything without a clue of what they’ll need to buy one. But if you engage them and probe you might find you have more of potential client than you thought. And yes the parents help.

Dustin

I hope every salesperson out there read Dustin’s comment, because HE’S THE CUSTOMER!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Resentful Rod’s “customers” are climbing all over the motorcycles because Rod isn’t saying anything worth listening to. Why the heck should they pay attention to him anyhow?

Warren,

This poor guy (I’m being sarcastic here) should never have gone into sales. Besides the fact that he can’t write – and probably can’t speak proper English, he hates his customers. If he thinks they don’t know that, he’s crazy.

It sounds to me like he’s angry at his customers because they can afford something that he can’t. And, if he can’t make enough money selling it to own one, well, I’m repeating myself when I say he’s chosen the wrong profession.

Apparently he was absent the day they taught the notion that it’s the customer who pays you – not your boss.

Guys like him give salespeople a bad name!

Diane Helbig

Yes, but salespeople like you Diane, plus Rhonda, Sean and Mike continually give me hope for the future.

I guess in Resentful Rod’s case it’s easier to tear something down than build it up. Of course it doesn’t pay as well but losers never seem to worry about that until it’s too late.

The feedback was fantastic and came from every side of the table, thanks once again for contributing!

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Response from a Salesperson

Back in January, I posted a blog entry titled "Prospecting is not Prejudging." In it I told a story about my son Michael and his experience of delivering pizzas to a local BMW dealer, where he was ignored and essentially treated like gum on the bottom of the sales force’s shoes.

I made the point that Michael is a young man of 19 who will probably buy at least 10 cars in his lifetime; he will someday have a family who owns cars and will recommend cars to co-workers and friends.

A longer version of this article also appeared in a recent issue of Yamaha’s monthly magazine. This magazine goes out to all their dealers and dealer salespeople. I thought you might be interested in reading an email I received recently from one of those salespeople. Luckily, he represents a small minority of Yamaha’s dealer sales force. I did not edit it or change a word. I’d like you to get the full effect.

Mr Gresh,

Good day to you, I have read your op-eds in the Yamaha Pro Sales flyer we receive for several months now and I must admit a lot of what you are saying is true even if it is common knowledge. One of my other co-workers told me he saves and refers to your notes. I noticed you used your son as an example in the latest edition of the “YPS” flyer…it is commendable for a young man to take it upon himself to try his hand at the “real world” before leaving academia….I am sure this young man wont be delivering pizza for the rest of his life as well as I wont be in the power sports business the rest of mine. How ever this generation-Y as you put it may be spending more money than other generations before but I am sure most of it are theirs mommies and daddies money they are spending. There are far too many Z71s and Mustang GTs an bmw for a bunch of kids in high school….While it is inexcusable that we dare to prejudge any customer…I find that there are more of the ones that can’t rub the two nickels together than you may know. I sit across from these poor unfortunate ones that have either taken the easy way out and filed a bankruptcy and they can’t understand why they just bought a new car and cant get financed on a motorcycle.

While it is easy to expound on what we should do, while we try to do and meet the same end …after spending sometimes up to an hour of time that could have been spent with someone who might possibly could have qualified for financing the miscreant {remember the one who filed bankruptcy} instead of paying his bills didn’t and now can’t get financed? This may be where some of the pre-judging comes from…or is it the kid who drags in his skateboard and in pants with multiple zippers and chains hanging up and down on them and climbs on a 10-12k motorcycle….or the fellow with three or four necklaces nd a mouth full of platinum and cant pay attention. These are the real customers that come in and we shouldn’t pre-judge them…I agree we shouldn’t… but time lost with these folks is time lost and time is money isnt it?

Here is a true recent contact I had last weekend{Saturday our busy day where many units are moved} names changed to protect the responsible The Clampetts walk in…., Jed ,Elly Mae,and Granny…I do the meet and greet {whilst trying to hold my nose from body odor!} we waltz around the show room…..EllyMAe finds the one for her…..I dazzle with actual knowledge of the product over and above nearest competition… {we are a four line dealer so I babble on}

Price is discussed along with benefits and we agree to “do an application” Now this doesn’t take a long time and we can usually get a quick response…sure enough the Clampetts get turned down. Then they tell me of their medical bills they haven’t paid or paid on……Well what can I do to get approved…I suggest that she get a co-signer with good credit…. Next week sure enough they come back with cousin “It” and after going back over most of the same with EllyMAe and beginning the application process…..Cousin It doesn’t have a drivers lisecnse…so she isn’t eligible to buy a street going bike…..In the mean time not only has my lunch that had just arrived gotten cold but, I missed out on a customer who pays in cash for a new unit…..so let us all what ever generation they be and lunch not withstanding dare someone who cant buy get in the way of many who can and do trade with us…

Yes Sir a lot of what you have informed us of is common knopwledgge and it is known…here and probably at that dealership up in Chapel Hill….but have you ever tried the other side of the table to which you address? It is interesting here…you have to be part therapist, priest, counciler…then you have to be up on your game…or knowledge base….then after you have done all that and take tests and jump through all the hoops you might get to make a sale if one of the other fellows doesn’t beat you to a potential customer,or beat you out of them.

OK so now we know what not to do …mabey you could try to educate the other side of this equation…customers…. Take the kid that is interested in motorcycling….educate them that when they come in….they might actually LOOK at the bikes before climbing all over them….That they actually have the ability to purchase a motorcycle…having the wants isn’t the same as ability. Everyone can get a car or a home the interest rate you pay may not be what you want but even with bankruptcy ,an automobile can be bought…just a what price…a motorcycle on the other hand is not a necessity, you mentioned the term “discretionary income” and that is what it takes to buy a motorcycle…. Well thanks for your part,I stand ready to do mine….heres hoping the customer can do theirs…and no offense I do not want to receive your news letter…

thanks,

Rodm850g

Wow! Where do I start? I guess the best place to start is the way he butchered my name: Gresh? Where’d he get that? My name appears in Yamaha’s magazine every month and in order to send me an email he needs to type out warren@greshes.com. Who did he think the Greshes was in greshes.com?

Next thing that struck me was how angry he was; not at me, mostly at the people he deals with every day (not much of an attitude for a salesman). It first became evident when he wrote, “However, this generation Y as you put it may be spending more money than other generations before, but I am sure most of it are their mommies and daddies money they are spending. There are far too many Z71s and Mustang GTs an bmw for a bunch of kids in high school.”

Who the hell cares where they get the money from? The point is, either they have it or their parents have it and they’re spending it! Believe me, it’s REALLY bad when a salesperson resents the prospects.

Next, he refers to prospects as miscreants, The Clampetts, Cousin It, and mentions “trying to hold my nose from body odor!” Is it any wonder he gets all the people who can’t pass the credit check? The qualified customers probably don’t want to go near that guy. And while he makes it sound as if a vast majority of prospects who walk in are destitute, somehow I have the feeling he’s taking isolated instances and making them the norm. More, importantly, if he hates it so much, why does he keep doing it?

I had to laugh when he asked if I’d ever been on the other side of the table. Having been a salesman in New York’s infamous Garment Center for 10 years, not only was I on the other side of table, but under it, over it, and hit on the head with it more times than I care to remember.

But I think of all the absurd statements in this email “…mabey you could try to educate the other side of this equation…customers….” was my favorite. I thought educating the customer was the salesperson’s job? Is it any wonder why so many people buy from the internet? It’s too avoid salespeople like this.

One thing I was wondering about was the other salesperson he mentioned at the beginning of his email. The one, who keeps my articles, makes notes and refers to them. I wonder if he’s having the same problem?Psychotic.