Archive for the ‘Selling’ Category

My Other Blog: Radio Broadcasters   1 comment

small-market-storiesIt was just over a year ago when I started interviewing radio broadcasters, and publishing those interviews for Smarts Broadcast Systems. Each interview publishes on the Smarts website as well as in a weekly radio industry email, the Small Market Radio Newsletter. Since I started, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great broadcasters … some award winners, and some that just quietly serve their communities.

It’s what radio is all about.

Please enjoy these 25 profiles that have published in the last year:

Beth Mann/Cadiz, KY

Brett Paradis, General Manager & owner of      KXRA-AM,    KXRA & KXRZ-FM/Alexandria, MN

Brett Paradis, General Manager & owner of
KXRA-AM, KXRA & KXRZ-FM/Alexandria, MN

Bill Coleman/Ponca City, OK

Bill Willis/French Lick, IN

Brett Paradis/Alexandria, MN

Bruce Goldsen/Jackson, MI

Bud Walters/Nashville, TN

Craig Donnelly/Hampton, IA

Craig Eckert/Kearney, NE

Dawn Konold/Mobridge, SD

Greg Pyron/Branson, MO

Henry Royse/Glasgow, KY

Jimmy Sledge/Monticello, AR

Joe Jindra, General Manager & owner of KNCK AM & FM/Concordia, KS

Joe Jindra, General Manager & owner of KNCK AM & FM/Concordia, KS

Joe Jindra/Concordia, KS

John Kennedy/Greenville, IL

Jon Benfield/Radford, VA

Kathy Lepak/Grand Rapids, MN

Ken Sutherland/Elko, NV

Larry Fuss/Las Vegas, NV

Paul Tinkle/Martin, TN

Paul Wilson/Clarksdale, MS

Ricardo Salazar/Greeley, CO

Rick Keefer/Clovis, NM

Roger Gelder/Cody, WY

Roger Utnehmer/Sturgeon Bay, WI

Roger Utnehmer, General Manager & owner of WBDK, WSBW, WRKU &    WRLU-FM/Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Roger Utnehmer, General Manager & owner of WBDK, WSBW, WRKU & WRLU-FM/Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Wayne Johnson/Fort Morgan, CO

Please enjoy … and if you’d like to nominate a broadcaster for a future profile, please advise!

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AdAge.com: What Medium Scores Highest ROI?

Mrs. M’s Handmade   1 comment

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mrs. M’s Handmade. Velda and Alley have been working on what I’ve called their nascent lotion business … and today, they make their retail premiere at the Santa Clarita Street Fair. They have a checking account. They have an official business name, website and tax ID number. It’s as real as it gets!

Logo-300xA future post will be talking about our experience at their first retail event, happening this weekend, 10a-5p, Saturday and Sunday. They’ll be selling their handmade lotions as well as my cheese boards and a few routed bowls that Velda is willing to part with.

So, please, join us today at the Santa Clarita Street Fair, in the parking lot of the College of the Canyons campus. If you can’t make that, then, please, go to MrsMsHandmade.com. With any luck, the website will be live, the E-commerce functions will work and you’ll be able to buy anything you like.

If it’s not working … tell me. Don’t tell Velda; she’ll blame the webmaster and that might get dicey for me. YaknowhatImean?

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Who Doesn’t Like Cheese & Crackers?

Mrs. M’s Handmade

Posted March 22, 2014 by henrymowry in Living Life, Selling

A Rare And Wonderful Day   1 comment

It’s one of the rarest things in sales.

Mowry, Henry Lee, 2005

2005. When renting space in a hotel lobby – and not getting thanked – was something I did.

Today, I received a handwritten thank you note from a client … because I did my job. She wanted ads to run, and I made that happen. And I was paid to do that … it is what an ad salesperson does, after all.

So the ads ran, and the client was happy. She took the time to write a note and mail it to me at my home.

I’ve been selling stuff since I was 22. I’ve done door-to-door, briefly. I’ve done big ticket out-of-the-box promotional sales. I’ve had people give me money to put their logo on a roller coaster.

I know sales.

To be thanked by a client, just for doing your job? That’s a rare and wonderful thing.

Posted March 4, 2014 by henrymowry in Selling

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The Billion Dollar Marketing Bet   Leave a comment

March MadnessPerhaps you heard … Warren Buffet’s Quicken Loans is willing to pay someone $1,000,000,000 dollars if they can perfectly predict the March Madness NCAA college basketball bracket.

That’s one billion dollars.

March Madness, of course, is the big tournament that ends the top division of the men’s college basketball season. It’s one of the biggest betting occasions of the sports year. Office pools abound … every sports publisher creates a bracket so you can predict who will win the tournament from among the 68 teams that enter the tournament.

Here’s my take: when the 4th richest guy in the world says he’s going to give you that much money … it probably isn’t going to happen. And that’s exactly what the odds tell us.

Nothing wrong with playing the game, of course!  After all, you just might win. On the other hand, in 30 years of March Madness on ESPN’s website, not one person has ever gotten every game right.

Seems like Mr. Buffet is betting a winning hand. But doesn’t he always?

More

FoxSports.com: March Madness…

Quicken Loans: Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge

Wall Street Journal: A $1 Billion Dollar Offer…

Washington Post: Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans…

Posted January 24, 2014 by henrymowry in Selling

Buying A Car The Right Way   1 comment

As Shakespeare said, “All’s well that ends well!”

So, while we were having an unusually bad car buying experience (see link below), we were also having a very good experience in parallel.

Our bank referred us to Auto Nation Direct. That’s how I met Robbie.

Robbie carefully explained that he would help us find our car. Any make, new or used. We just needed to tell him what we wanted.

OK.

Oh, and it was one-quote pricing. He would do the paperwork before we got to the dealership; it would be complete when we walked in. Take a test drive, sign the papers, out the door.

OK.

I described the car that Velda wanted … he was back within hours with a used car option. Too quick, really … we weren’t ready to buy, which I told him. But his earnest recommendation propelled us forward.

We clarified what we wanted … he had some other options for us, and we eventually zeroed in on the Honda Accord. He listened and responded like a champ. Robbie made this happen through his excellent communication skills.

His partner at the dealership was Kelley. When we arrived for our test drive, Kelley was prompt. He listened to what Velda wanted, and talked about how the different cars would work for her … or not. He stayed focused on Velda … not me.

Which was a very good thing. After all, we were buying her car. What she needed and wanted from the car should be the primary focus. Kelley understood that.

Is there any surprise we bought a Honda?

Together, they delivered one of the best car buying experiences we’ve had. Why? Because they listened to the customer. They knew who the customer was, and talked to her.

Quality sales skills are not a mystery, really. The mystery is why so few people practice them!

And, yes, I’m happy to get you Robbie’s phone number if you would like to buy a car the right way.

Car

The color is Obsidian Blue. It’s sparkly.

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AutoNation Direct

That Horrible Need To Talk To Salespeople

That Horrible Need To Talk to Salespeople   6 comments

Car LotMaking Velda angry? A very bad idea.

But then, who likes buying a car? After all, you have to deal with that universally despised type of person: car salesmen.

We need a new car. The Toyota is 11 years old, has 155,000 miles on it and hasn’t worked right for quite a while … it has served us well. It’s falling apart, though, so it is time to move on.

And that means we have to deal with car salesmen. Or saleswomen … but in the dealership, only two women were in sight. One was Velda, and the other was the receptionist/cashier. Perhaps we should have taken a clue from that.

I’m the best prospect in the world for a salesman. I’ve sold my whole professional life, and I’ve managed a sales team for a very long time. I will be very helpful to a salesperson, as I respect what they do. I know what salespeople need. I want to help them get their job done. I’m polite. I’m earnest. I want to be quick … and I give them the proper priorities quickly. The problem comes when the sales rep makes mistakes. I’m a professional; I expect to be treated like one.

I. Have. No. Patience. With. Idiot. Salespeople.

We made an appointment through Velda’s work website, which has a program that offers one price shopping for employees. That’s a wonderful thing: no haggling. You pay X-price (it’s even called X-price), and you’re done. All you have to do is pick out the car and the options you want … and you can sign the paperwork. When Velda went through the website, she had to register, and the salesperson at the local dealership emailed to help us. No problem; we wanted help.

Strike 1: We arrived at the dealership exactly on time. He kept us waiting for more than 10 minutes. We had to page him twice before he deigned to appear. That’s a cardinal sin in any sales situation.

Strike 2: After spending about 2 minutes describing what Velda wanted (as this was to be her car), we walked out to the first car we were going to test drive … he found the right car, and then left us standing in the hot parking lot while he went to go get the keys … back inside the dealership. It was a hot afternoon, and we were annoyed.

Velda got in the driver’s seat. Her car, her test drive.

Car - CathyThis guy – this guy! – was a real Chatty Cathy. Talk, talk, talk. We heard about his previous business (he lost it in the divorce). He’s got a 6 year old girl. He got a great deal on the house he bought. He likes tech. He buys a lot of cellphones. Talk, talk, talk. Oh, and he made bad jokes. Not a marriage made in heaven with us. That’s OK … you can’t like everybody, and you certainly don’t have to like every sales rep you deal with. But, this guy! He couldn’t get out of his own way. Talk, talk, talk. Not much listening here. He never learned about our kids. He never learned one of our kids owned one of the models we were looking at. He never learned what we didn’t like about his ownership experience.

I’m in the back seat … it’s Velda’s test drive. But this guy still asked me what I did for a living before he asked Velda what she did. He never got that she’s a Nurse Practitioner. He didn’t ask why she wanted the features she wanted for her car. He never sold the car based on her priorities. He never learned that when he said something she disagreed with, she would be annoyed and tell him so. One exchange:

It’s got great trunk access.

No it doesn’t. It’s hard to get to.

Well, why do you need good trunk access?

It’s where I keep the bodies.

We test drove two models, so we were with our sales rep for quite some time. We were very interested in the car … and Velda agreed to go back inside the dealership so he could consult inventory and color selection (and I’m going MISTAKE! MISTAKE! Don’t go back inside!!!).

He looked for the model with the color & the features that we were interested in, and printed out a price for us to take home. And then it happened.

Strike 3: Sales rep said he wanted us to meet the boss, so he went to get him. He had time to brief the boss on what we were doing. We were introduced to the sales manager. And, my goodness, this so-called “manager” actually looked Velda in the eye, and said, “Are you a stay-at-home Mom?”

I was proud of Velda.

She didn’t hit him.

And, guess what? We’re not buying a Ford.

More

History of the Chatty Cathy Doll

Steering Clear of Bad Customer Service

Car Buying Horror Stories For Women

Ten Tips: Hiring Salespeople   Leave a comment

Sales Rep 031. You can’t train enthusiasm. I’ve always liked hiring cheerleaders … but I’m not sure I’ve ever hired an actual cheerleader. What I have hired are self-avowed “people persons” that have a smile in their heart and a kind word on their lips. “Up” people make better sellers. Hire them.

2. Experience doesn’t mean better. Give me less experience with fewer expectations and fewer bad habits … your life will be simpler. Make no mistake, top sellers are almost always experienced reps with direct experience. However, you can’t hire “only” super star sellers. You need to develop reps, and helping them learn selling skills is often easier than breaking bad habits in reps that believe they know everything they need to know.

3. Education is good. I believe in hiring people with education. Reps should be able to write a proper proposal, and figure out how much they will be paid on each sale. They don’t necessarily need a college education (I had one fabulous rep that didn’t have a high school diploma, but she could sell!).

4. Be realistic with expectations. A new rep probably won’t be your top seller in 3 months. A rep with a developmental account list may not fully realize their potential for 2 years. Tell them the truth … or they’ll quit when they figure out they’ve been lied to.

5. In the interview, ask the applicant to talk about money. Have them tell you what they expect to make. Talk about asking for the order. If they can’t talk about money, straight up, in the interview, then they are not a sales person. You can’t teach this, in my experience, any more than you can teach enthusiasm.

6. Read the resume. If there is a grammatical or spelling error on the resume, you can’t trust what the applicant writes. How accurate do you think their proposals and contracts will be?

7. Experienced reps need to fit into your system. If you are fortunate enough to get an experienced applicant, then spend less time looking for sales skill and more time making sure they’ll fit into your system. Do you require reports? Do you have regular sales meetings? What record keeping system will they have to use? If it’s important, then make sure they are on board. If they insist they sell their way … then make sure you are OK with that. It’s not necessarily wrong … but if they are not flexible, then they must expect you to be flexible. At that point, it’s your call.

8. Check social media skills. They’ll interact with your clients via email, social media, face-to-face … written word? Over meals? Whatever your expectation, make sure they are good ambassadors for your brand in all situations. If they refuse to get on an airplane, for example, then you may not be able to send them to national conventions.

9. Industry experience is a huge plus. Hiring a person that has worked in the industry, or in a related industry, is a huge plus. It is not required, in my experience, but it does shorten the learning curves. Note that I’m not talking about direct selling experience … a motivated person with marketing experience in your industry can be an excellent seller, once they decide that’s what they want to do.

10. You need a variety of reps. If you only hire people just like yourself, then you’ll only have one kind of client. You need people with diverse interests, diverse backgrounds, and diverse styles. People sell differently, and clients need different kinds of information from their sellers. Make sure your sellers present a wide spectrum of possibilities to your marketplace, and you’ll maximize your brand’s potential.Sales Rep 04

Posted August 6, 2013 by henrymowry in Selling

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The Power of Engaging   4 comments

A great story.  A social media lesson.  And a wonderful novel.

It’s tempting to say this is a triumph of new media.  And it is … but it’s really a triumph of a very good book.  That’s not a new media story — that’s a classic story.  Good products win; good marketing only helps them win faster.  And such is the case here.

Hugh Howey has successfully created a community that loves his writing.  That is not done easily, and he has done it independently.

He was a part-time writer and book store employee struggling to find his way.  He wrote a novella called Wool, which began to find an audience.  He marketed it as a e-book on Amazon.com.  As people began to find it, they became invested in his success.

They encouraged him to keep writing.  He published more parts of the Wool story.  Remember, this sort of episodic publishing is not new — authors have serialized their stories since soon after the printing press was published.

His readers volunteered to help with proof reading, and they helped correct Wool’s errors.

They submitted cover artwork.

Hugh Howey lives in Florida,.  He is still a fiercely independent author in the US, though Wool will be coming out in hardback in 2013, from Random House UK.

And he kept writing.  Howey recently gathered the first 5 Wool “books” into a single omnibus edition which is what I read.  It’s a fabulous book, and worth your time.  The movie rights to Wool were just sold to Sir Ridley Scott.  You’ve seen his stuff:  Thelma & Louise.  Alien.  Blade Runner.  Gladiator.  And he’s the executive producer of the best show on CBS:  “The Good Wife.”  Here’s hoping he can do something wonderful with Wool!

Today, some established authors have decried the lack of quality found among the independent authors that are self-publishing.  Sue Grafton famously talked about the “wannabes” of independent publishing in this article published in August.  It’s illuminating to note a few facts comparing Grafton’s latest novel, V is for Vengeance, with Howey’s Wool Omnibus.

V:  343 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.1 rating.  $14.99 for the kindle edition.

Wool:  1,908 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.8 rating.  $1.99 for the kindle edition TODAY … it’s Today’s Daily Deal!

I’ve read much of Grafton’s alphabet series; I have enjoyed following Kinsey Millhone, her private investigator that lives in the fictional southern California city of Santa Teresa.  I certainly appreciate the professional presentation of her traditionally published novels.  Who doesn’t appreciate good proof reading?  On the other hand, even her deep catalog on the kindle is still $5.99 each.  It seems traditional publishers expect readers to pay for that proof reading.  Handsomely.

Howey has succeeded in tapping into his audience in a way that old-school authors like the 72-year old Grafton just can’t emulate.  Check out my favorite part of Howey’s website, his chart of how many words he’s written for each of his ongoing projects.  His readers know exactly where he is and what he’s working on.

But back to Wool.

Great opening line:  “The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do.”

Life has gotten very small in this post-apocalyptic story.  The exterior world is deadly; the living world is limited to the inside of a giant buried silo that holds everyone and everything.  The only view of the exterior world is limited by the cleanliness of the sensors mounted above ground at the top of the structure.  When a silo resident goes outside to clean those sensors, they die.

How did people get into this situation?  Why can’t they get out of it?  What IS out there?

Read the book.  You need to read this book.  Buy it today for your kindle; only $1.99 on Amazon.com!

Me, I just bought Wool 6, which is a prequel.  And since Wool 7 is already 60% done … can’t wait!

Management and Parenting: Making It Work   5 comments

Our electronic tether has become shorter and shorter.  I used to train my sales reps that they had 24 hours to return a phone call.  Today, that would seem hopelessly unresponsive.

The average 18-24 year old exchanges about 16 text messages every waking hour according to Pew Research.

A client contacted you?  You had better respond within the hour.  And if you don’t respond within 5 minutes, you may well frustrate your client just as assuredly as you would frustrate a comically insecure girl.  Watch “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” if you need a refresher on what happens when you are unresponsive to a person of the opposite sex (and it’s a good romantic comedy as well).

HOWEVER, what’s good for your professional life is anathema to your personal life.  I believe you should have 1 appointment and 1 rule for your family every day.  Every day.

Every single day.

1. Your family should eat together every evening.  That’s difficult with a baby, of course, and it’s difficult with a teenager.  But you need to make it happen every possible day.  It doesn’t matter if you are doing home cooking (though that is great — even if you are a lousy cook like me).  It does matter that you sit down as a family and break bread as a family.  Work schedules will interfere; high school activities will as well.  Do your best:  eat together absolutely as often as possible.

2. Electronic devices are not allowed.  No television, no cellphones.  No one answers their phone while at the dinner table.  A musical background is recommended:  music is good for the soul.  But no cellphones.  No text messages. No handheld gaming systems. No iPads.  None.

Our family dinners were so good — and yes, Velda’s cooking was so good — that Alley’s # 1 choice for a wedding gift was a cookbook of family recipes. That became a part of her wedding celebration, with recipes contributed by family and friends.  It’s important to build memories with your family.

Normal Rockwell was right: family dinners are important, and not just when turkey is being served.

What’s the purpose of dinner?  Sharing thoughts about your day, your week, your life — with everyone and for everyone.  Young children learn how adults think.  Adults learn how teenagers think.  And that’s good for every member of your family.  The benefits accrue gradually, over years.  Share a laugh, share an idea, share your life.

I was struck last weekend by a young boy exiting a very nice restaurant with his family.  He was so engrossed in his video game that he couldn’t see to walk out of the restaurant.  He bumped into strangers.  He bumped into hard objects like chairs and walls.  What did Mom do?  She caught up to him, grabbed his head, and steered him between the obstacles so he wouldn’t lose his place in his game.

What did he learn?  Mom would be in charge and it didn’t matter what he did: he could be remote, unengaged and rude.  Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful future employee?  Husband?  Father?

What did Mom learn?  That her son needs her to be in charge, as he’s unable to cope in polite society.  She’s a future helicopter parent, the scourge of teachers and colleges everywhere.

If you have young children, start this today.  If you have older children, start this today.  If your kids are grown up and out of the nest, then begin having an appointment meal at least once a week.

If you’re already doing it, you have my thanks.  If you don’t do this … you’re missing it.

Ultimate Family Event   2 comments

When you set a goal, it should be challenging.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  If the goal is easily, quickly obtained, then it’s not a good goal.  Don’t waste your time “working” to meet a goal that you can do with your eyes closed.  When you’re going to go to all of the trouble of saying you have a goal, working towards it … make sure that it’s worth the effort so that when you get there, it’s going to be worth the effort to celebrate!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

In business, it has been called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  If you can get every member of your organization to buy in to a seemingly impossible goal … then you can achieve amazing things.

will.i.am

Setting big goals isn’t a new idea, of course.  It’s a pop culture phenomenon, too:  will.i.am got NASA to help him premiere his new song, “Reach for the Stars,” which became the first song broadcast from another planet when it was beamed back from Mars this year.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit

When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon

And I know the sky might be high

But baby it ain’t really that high

And I know that mars might be far

But baby it ain’t really that far

Let’s reach for the stars

What’s this got to do with the Ultimate Family Event, you ask?  EVERYTHING!

Our family tradition was to go camping every Memorial Day in the sequoias.  There’s a pair of adjacent National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, that are about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.  Our family built big memories there.  When we went camping one year, we had to set Lauren’s playpen up in a snowdrift (it is not warm in May at 7,000 feet!).  Another year, the kids got their first (unsuccessful) fishing experience.  We explored caves.  We saw really, really big trees.  Every year we did it, and every year it was great.

The Mowry family, ready to GO! Kings Canyon National Park, 1995.

In 1995, I wanted the family to go hiking.  By this time, Christopher was well into Boy Scouts, Michael was a Bear in Cub Scouts … and our Cub Scout Pack regularly went hiking locally.  But it was our big annual vacation in the Sequoias, and I wanted to push the envelope.

Two things happened during this vacation that became legendary in the family.  The first was Velda’s immortal announcement during our first dinner, “Look at that big dog!”  The “dog,” of course, was not a “dog,” it was a “deer.”  And so began Velda’s reputation for, uh, having trouble identifying wildlife.

The important thing that happened, though, was that we had a wonderful hiking experience.

It was in Kings Canyon National Park, and it started, appropriately enough, at “Road’s End.”  From there, we did a 9 mile loop hike to Mist Falls, which is the entrance to Paradise Valley.  Sounds gorgeous, right?  Yup.

John Muir is famous for his love of and passion for the California wilderness. His packing advice couldn’t have been simpler: “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” I don’t think he was traveling with a 5 year old, however.

Here’s the hitch:  Lauren was 5 years old.

5 years old.  9 mile hike.  At altitude.  Really?  Yup.  Let’s reach for the stars.

That was our family’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  We began talking about this hike weeks in advance.  The kids were always excited to go to the Sequoias, and were absolutely excited about the big hike we had planned.  They wanted to go.  They wanted to see Mist Falls.  We were going to conquer a 9 mile hike, and we were going to do it together with a kindergartner.

The morning went great.  The forest was lovely, the trail very well maintained, the King’s River was splashing merrily along with snow melt.  It was really a gorgeous hike.  We had lunch on the granite rocks overlooking Mist Falls.

And then it began to rain.   We were about 4 miles from the car.  This was a great mountain rain, with a quick temperature drop of 30* and grand claps of thunder in the thin mountain air that sounded like the world was ending.  There were guys on the trail in shorts & a t-shirt that were fighting hypothermia as they ran for their cars … which were 4 miles away.  “Road’s End,” remember?

The Scouting motto was and is key to our preparation for family outings.  Be prepared, indeed.  We had layers of warm clothing, and we had ponchos for everyone.  The temperature was not an issue, and the rain was not an issue.

Except for our kindergartner.  The poncho was actually too long for her short legs.  She had to be very careful; it was often a trip hazard when walking uphill.  She had to hold the poncho up, or it would drag on the ground.  No problem.  She looked like a yellow ghost as she chewed up miles of trail in the rain.

Did she hike 9 miles — 4 in the rain?  Absolutely.  There was never really a question in anyone’s mind, and the family achieved that big, impossible goal.

With poncho held high, the Mist Falls trek proved to be one of the best parts of this great family vacation in Kings Canyon National Park.

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