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How to sell chocolate and not to sell cars

May 29, 2008 Leave a comment

I experienced an impressive approach to selling chocolate last weekend while visiting San Francisco. A small mall in Berkeley is home to several stores offering food. One of the stores sold chocolate, but the approach was unlike anything I had ever seen the before. The store was very small with a counter, some shelf space displaying expensive chocolates, a plasma screen on the wall showing some foreign movie and a friendly and energetic vendor behind the stand.

What made the whole thing unique is that the vendor turned chocolate shopping into an interactive and fun experience. He would invite people to try various chocolates and guess their contents as he cut up little sample pieces in  front of his audience. The vendor cracked jokes and told stories about the chocolate, where it came from, etc. When Rebecca and I arrived, there were 2 couples sitting in front of the counter and actively participating in the tasting. As far as I could tell in the brief period of time that we were there – everyone, including us, who sat down in front of the counter walked away buying something.

For some reason this experience stands out in contrast to the last time I was at the car dealership to have some maintenance work performed on my car. As I waited in the show room, one of the sales guys approached me and asked me if he could help me. To be polite and to be left alone, I promptly and politely informed him that I was waiting for my car to be finished up by the service. The sales guy inquired what type of car I had. I answered “2004 WRX”. He informed me that he had a 2006 WRX and asked me about the mileage on my car. I could see where he was going with this and informed him that I was happy with my car and had no plans to buy another until Subaru offers a Hybrid model. At that point he left me alone.

Where did the sales guy go wrong? I think the primary problem is that he approached the situation from the perspective of what he wanted (instead of what I wanted). What he wanted was to sell me another car; and that was clear as day. He didn’t even take the time to figure out whether I liked my car or what types of cars I liked. Instead he jumped right into “sales” mode. This pushy approach is a sure way to turn off a potential customer.

Takeaway:

1. Engaging customers in a non-threatening way can drive new sales.

2. Placing your needs above the needs of your customers is a sure way to turn away customers and prospects.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

5Cs of Paper

May 29, 2008 Leave a comment

5Cs of Paper

Many financial institutions today continue to rely on paper for conducting business: communications, contracts, disclosures, underwriting documentation are printed, mailed, copied, and moved around manually. This introduces a number of problems. Recently I began using a framework to explain the problem with paper. As you know marketers love frameworks using Cs and Ps. While these frameworks have limitations, they serve a purpose – providing a shortcut to remembering important components to keep in mind.

Introducing the 5Cs of paper based business processes.

  1. Cost. Without a doubt processes conducted on paper cost more at most/all points in the lifecycle.
  2. Cycle time. Shipping paper takes longer than using secure electronic delivery or eSignatures to get that contract signed online. Errors that are more common on paper due to lack of automatic validation (paper can’t tell you that you missed a required signature or a form field) further compound the cycle time problem as paper documents may go back and forth several times.
  3. Control (and visibility). When a paper package leaves your organization, you no longer have control over it (i.e. you can’t pull it back, easily replace it or know when the recipient opened and viewed its contents). This lack of control also applies to multi-step workslows such as underwriting. Workload balancing across geographically distributed teams is simply not effective when paper has to be shipped around.
  4. Compliance. We see a lot of confidential documents sitting in piles on desks or faxes left on a fax machine because the intended recipient doesn’t know that the fax has arrived. These documents may contain confidential and private information (i.e. social security number and medical records). There is always a risk than an unintended individual may gain access to information contain within.
  5. Customer experience. Let’s face it, we have all been “spoiled” by the convenience of services like Amazon and other leaders in web-based business. We expect immediate gratification (I want to download my iTunes, now.) and more options (overnight or 2 day delivery). The problem with paper is that it just can’t keep up with Internet speed and convenience. As a result some sad mortgage broker somewhere exclaims “Lost another one to Ditech!”. 
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

1st Post

May 19, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve considered starting a blog for a while now. It’s time to give it a shot.

I have to warn any potential readers out there (I don’t expect many) that I have a lot of interests and this blog will likely include posts on various topics. In business ability to focus and dominate a particular segment makes a lot of sense, but I’m not starting this blog to make money.

Instead I’m simply intending to capture and hopefully share some perspectives and patterns which I find interesting. 

Categories: Uncategorized

Hello world!

May 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Categories: Uncategorized