Tag Archives: Sales

So You Think It’s a New Year

January 1st

The World’s Most Life Changing Day

What is time? Here we have a question that has baffled philosophers and scientists since, well . . . since time immemorial. We measure it in numerous ways and, frankly, we’re not terribly interested in any of them other than the calendar at this point. For our intents and purposes, then, time is measured in days; by the rotation of the Earth 360° on its axis and by years; the compilation of 365.25 days as the Earth completes one orbit around our home star, Sol.

To be even less precise, we’re actually only interested in a simple calendar, whether it’s an application running on a computer or a slick-paper collection of rare and beautiful pictures of well-tended gardens and ornate architecture situated in the world’s most exotic locations. The Gregorian calendar, actually, will suit us.

Furthermore, let’s confine our study of time to – essentially – one day; New Year’s day. The first of January, regardless of the year. This is, perhaps, the only day we celebrate that is entirely arbitrary; marking a line in the continuum we call time that isn’t tied to any particular event we’ve experienced or chosen to memorialize for the purpose of not working and having a bar-b-que, stuffing our faces with rich, fattening food, or conducting a car, bed, or linen sale.

Take for instance President’s Day. On second thought, and upon a little research, let’s not take President’s Day as it is a convoluted mess made somewhat abstruse by it’s being a combination of Federal and State observances of the birthdays of George Washington and, sometimes, Abraham Lincoln, and the occasional desire to commemorate the existence of all Presidents (past, present and, presumably, future) of the United States of America.

How about a holiday that marks a specific date on the calendar and hasn’t been moved around yet for the purposes of creating a three-day weekend and making working stiffs and the travel industry happy? How about the most venerable of them all, the Fourth of July – Independence Day? We celebrate this holiday on the same date of the year, regardless of the day on which it falls. Something happened on that day and, each year – relative to the rest of the days on our calendar – we celebrate that thing; that one thing common to us all.

The new year, however, is merely the day on which we’ve – somewhat arbitrarily – determined everything rewinds and starts over. Never mind that every four years we need to tack another day onto it, which we’ve chosen to do in February, the only month short enough to make room for another day without making the other months jealous. It is, for many, the beginning of a new life; a chance to start over and jettison old habits like a layer of useless, molted skin.

There is one thing – one time independent thing – the new year and its joyously celebrated recurrence is inextricably associated with; the New Year’s resolution. That “time-honored” tradition indulged in by an incredibly large portion of the world’s population. The moment when old habits die with a glass of champagne, the singing of Auld Lang Syne, raucous noisemaking, and the occasional over amorous kiss.

What, we may ask, is a New Year’s resolution and why is it so bound up in this arbitrary date that marks the completion of a year’s journey around the Sun? Why do people not make these changes and affirmations when the need for them becomes apparent? Why wait for one, somewhat otherwise inauspicious date to sever ties to the past and, Phoenix-like, rise to embrace a bright, new future? Especially when, usually no later than mid-February, the Phoenix perversely transforms into Icarus and plummets to the Earth, there to lie – seemingly lifeless – until another December 31st rolls around.

Perhaps most people find it necessary to draw a figurative line in the sand of their personal hourglass at the moment we mark the numerical change from one year to the next. Perhaps it eases our ability to put bad habits and worthless pursuits behind us; to bury them in the mists of time and move toward a brighter, more promising future. Perhaps we just like to kid ourselves – like setting our alarm clocks to read 10 minutes fast in order to ensure we arise in time to begin a new day. Who knows?

So here’s my resolution, but it isn’t a New Year’s resolution as I reaffirm it many times a year. When it becomes obvious something I’m doing isn’t working all that well, I’m going to endeavor to change direction as quickly as possible. I’m going to allow my creativity the freedom to find better ways to proceed and I’m going to look for innovative paths to make those better ways pay off in a richer, fuller life for me and my family.

How about you? Do you wait until the new year to change your evil ways, :) or do you move on down the road as soon as practicable once you realize a change is in order? Either way, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013 et seq., ad infinitum.


I’m Selling Cars

Signing up Test Drivers

Here’s Where The Paperwork Gets Done

Now, everyone knows that Ford Motor Company is doing one hell of a job embracing technology and, especially, digital and social media. Scott Monty has been leading the way and doing a pretty good job of it. Now I’m selling cars; Fords to be exact.

I’m not actually a car salesman, but I have a Ford dealership as a client. This is the biggest weekend of the year and it’s being kicked off with a yearly event meant to raise money for two local high schools. It’s called Drive One 4UR School and, for every qualified driver who comes in a test drives a new Ford, $20 (up to a maximum of $6,000) is donated to either Royal or Simi Valley High School. There is no sales pressure and the only requirement is to fill out a very short form before taking out the car, and answering a few questions on a survey after returning. That’s it.

So, as part of my efforts on behalf of Simi Valley Ford I have been spending more and more time on the premises. I told the President I didn’t believe I could do a credible job of representing his organization if I wasn’t somewhat a part of it, so he agreed to give me access to an office and a computer so I can be here, even if I’m actually working on other stuff.

I’ve been working on the test drive program a bit, and even took out a 2013 Mustang for a long and varied test drive. I’ve done a little bit of video that I’ll soon edit and put up on our Facebook fan page. I’m hoping to get a YouTube channel for us. Unfortunately, for now it would be blocked here on the premises, which I’ve been trying to get changed . . . so far unsuccessfully.

Right now I’m just enjoying being around a retail marketing event; something I’ve not experienced in this capacity for decades.  There’s Motown playing on a large sound system, American flags on all the vehicles, the weather is spectacular, and I’m sitting in my office waiting for a networking event (co-sponsored with the local Chamber of Commerce) to begin.

I’m going to have to leave early to attend open house for my 8 year old and then I’ll be back again tomorrow. I plan on spending time here over the weekend as well. That will also be something I haven’t done in years, although I work at home constantly . . . so it shouldn’t be all that weird. Ah – The Shirelles singing Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”. Guess I’ll find out!


For Restaurants Engagement Has Always Been on the Menu

Engage!

Make it so!

Everyone and her aunt – at least those in the social media world – is talking about engagement nowadays. For instance, just a few weeks ago Brian Solis posted “The Rules of Social Media Engagement” on his blog. Ten days ago, Laurel Papworth wrote “7 Levels of Social Media Engagement” at socialmediatoday. Way back in January of 2010 Jason Falls wrote a rather scathing review of the concept in social media explorer entitled “What is Engagement And How Do We Measure it?”

Now, I’m far from an expert in this field. I have no training in marketing, PR, or advertising, though I have pretty extensive experience in sales, having spent many years in the wholesale food business doing just that (lots of cold calling on people who were already buying from someone else, actually). However, since embarking on my new career as a social media marketing strategist and bottle-washer, I do have some thoughts about what “engagement” means to me.

I’m of the opinion the use of “engagement”, in today’s rapidly changing social media fueled world, means a shift away from broadcasting one’s message out through print media, email blasts, websites, etc. toward a model that invites dialogue and conversation. I believe the difference is fairly well expressed in the concepts of “outbound” and “inbound” marketing. As I said, though, I’m a bit of a novice at this, so maybe I’m just full of hot air myself.

Nevertheless, I do have a fair amount of experience with the restaurant business, having eaten at lots of them, as well as managed a couple, and sold lots of product to many. I learned all about service from the restaurant business. I learned how to make people not only comfortable, but happy they did business with me.

So . . . what do I mean by the title of this piece? I am doing some low-level reputation management and I have some Google alerts set up to let me know when some of the businesses I’m working with, or am interested in, are being discussed. Today I got one that led me to read a couple of reviews of a particular sports bar I would like to have as a client. One of the reviews mentioned how the owner walked around and talked to each of the tables where people were eating, drinking, and watching a game. The author of the review also suggested this was no longer the norm, which was why it stood out. Also mentioned was the author’s belief this wasn’t just a cursory walk-around, but a genuine conversation; an “engagement” with the people that pay his rent and his employee’s salaries.

It made me realize the best, most successful restaurants have always done something like this. They make their customers feel as though they are eating with friends, that they matter, and their comfort and satisfaction matter. It’s not something that goes on a checklist of things to do. It’s natural (at least with the best of owners and managers) and – which it always was for me – fun and fulfilling. It’s also a way to get immediate feedback and to address problems before they get out-of-hand.

Engagement is important, and social media provides ways for most anyone in business to participate as never before possible. However, as many also point out, it’s important to be genuine and it helps if you really care. Successful restauranteurs understand this in their bones. Their success proves its value as well. Have you figured out how to genuinely engage with your customers?


Channeling the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles

The Grand Central Market

Stalls at the Grand Central Market in L.A.

Perhaps this may seem strange, especially to those who’ve not experienced it, but I just love being out in places where there’s a lot of foot traffic and commerce is humming along. Although I fairly recently left a large corporation, where I worked in a windowless environment for a mostly faceless organization, I spent my formative years in very small businesses. My father was – after he took the money I got for my Bar Mitzvah to  purchase a truck – a food peddler, selling mostly meat and cheese to places like the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

I used to love going to that market and walking through it to get to a hand truck or a small four-wheeled cart I could bring back to our truck to schlep boxes of product to some of the stalls we sold to or, better yet, to one of the walk-ins where the vendors kept their produce, etc. they would then put in their cases to sell to the public. There was one place that sold a lot of chiles and spices. I think the dominant smell in that cooler was Cumin, or Cominos. I loved going into their walk-in and would usually loiter there after I had unloaded the cart with the boxes of product they had purchased from us. I was also introduced to things like lamb French Dip sandwiches and Orange Julius at the Grand Central. I can still hear my father pushing a cart loaded with meat and cheese, yelling “Wash (sic) your feet!” to warn shoppers of our presence.

Angel's Flight Funicular

The Angel's Flight Funicular

Across the street was one of the iconic places in the City of the Angels, a funicular called Angel’s Flight. It was an amazing ride to nowhere for me. Up the hill (Bunker Hill) and back down. No place to go, but I was in heaven on that little trolley.

I’ve been back a few times since my father’s death just over twenty-five years ago and it never fails to give me the chills and warm my heart at the same time. Now when I go out to talk with prospects for my business, I find I’m getting the same old feeling. There’s a connection I can’t fully explain, though I’m trying to here. I hope it never goes away. It’s part of what makes everything I do worthwhile.

Angel’s Flight Pic Courtesy of NIEHS


Saying “I Don’t Know” Will Set You Free

If you’ve ever been in sales, I’m willing to bet you know it’s never a good thing to pretend you know something you don’t. Unless you’re making an opportunistic, one-off sale and you don’t really care about any relationship with your customer, it’s far better to admit ignorance and pledge to get an answer ASAP. Frankly, I think it’s always the best tactic regardless of your relationship; it’s just plain ethical and, a bit ironically, smart.

Most people know when they’re being fed a load of crap and pretending to know something of which you are ignorant can open up so many cans of worms it’s hard to define all the consequences. One of the major ones, however, is never being believed no matter what you say. Not a good thing, whether in sales or elsewhere.

Anyway, this came up again for me today because of a tweet by @wallybock, who pointed me to an article in the New York Times’ Corner Office section. The post is entitled “What’s Wrong With Saying ‘I Don’t Know‘?” It’s a good interview of Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic and, besides her admonition to not be afraid of admitting ignorance, there’s a wealth of good business (and life) advice in her words.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,871 other followers

%d bloggers like this: