Keeping it in the Family

The family business.
The family business.

An under-rated quality of my company’s business model is the way that it allows families to create a lasting legacy. Singles and couples both do what I am doing, with equal success. However, it seems clear that a husband and wife working together bring an energy that’s more than the sum of the parts.

I’ll give you an example.

Amongst the range of household staples that my company sells, there are many what I call “small indulgence” products. I, for instance, consider the foot scrub and lotion (peppermint scented is my fave) a total treat. My hooves feel immeasurably better when I spend time soaking, scrubbing and moisturizing them.

Now, I’m a 51-year-old dude, and that doesn’t fit the stereotype. Staying home on a Saturday night to tend to my feet? Who would believe that? Nonetheless, looking after my body is important to me. But selling that to others might be a stretch.

If I had a wife, though, the idea would sound better coming from her. Not only because men and women (I think) are more likely to trust a woman when it comes to such matters, but because I don’t necessarily have the language. When I talk about spending time and money looking after my feet, it sounds a little staged. It’s not, of course, but there you have it.

A woman’s touch would be a clear advantage when it comes to talking about my company’s range of cosmetics, too. I can tell a prospective customer that our full range of skin-care, make-up and color products is great value and of first-rate quality, but would it have the same impact as if it came from someone who actually used these goodies?

I suppose I could take to wearing make-up in the interests of furthering my business….nah, that’s probably gonna turn more people off that I’d attract.

All of which is slightly off my point. Imagine being in charge of a business that you can build over a lifetime, that you can work together or separately, in which you can work many hours if you choose, or a few hours if you choose. You can turn it up, or turn it down, but all the while the customers you have previously created are remaining customers year in and year out.

And your children, too can be a part of your enterprise. A business that’s in your name can teach them much about life –  about human nature, about money, and above all about keeping it in the family. Just a thought.

Less Is More

Climb every mountain.
Climb every mountain.

Attempting to make sales without using the telephone would be like trying to climb a mountain without rope. Sure, you might make it to the top, but it will take a lot longer, and your productivity will be enormously reduced.

I don’t have the right phone manner yet, but I think I’m thinking my way around it. There are key words and phrases to avoid:

 

~ wonderful opportunity

~ you’ll love it!

~ incredible products

~ life-changing

…and so on.

 

In the age of almost infinite choice, hyperbole works against you. What I believe about my company and its products won’t ever align completely with your beliefs and understanding. There are as many ways of looking at something as simple as an Omega-3 supplement as there are people. We’re all motivated differently.

Giving people room to fall in love with their idea is the way. (I think.) I can give my sales presentation, answer questions, be upbeat and responsive, but in the end what matters will be the internal processing of everything from whether prospective customers like my haircut to whether they’re interested in a better life…over which I have no control. I can screen the movie, but if they’re uncomfortable in their seats, they won’t give it a good review.

Saying less; remaining positive but restrained; being prepared; keeping on keeping on. These are the qualities that mountain-climbers and salesfolk both need. These and making good knots.

In Sickness and in Conversation

Just what is the key to health and happiness?
Just what is the key to health and happiness?

Little is more tedious than the person who talks of their dreams and their health – or more specifically, their ill-health.

So at risk of boring you senseless I’ll tell you that I’ve been sick for eight days beginning on Saturday the 9th, when some kind of viral flu hit me. You know the drill. I’ve been unable to get cool enough, unable to get warm enough, unable to breath properly, unable to sleep, unable to stay awake and generally unable to live any kind of a normal life. Frustrating.

What is kind of interesting is that of the ten guys who work with me, fully five of us contracted this thing, with one guy yet to return. Talk about communicable diseases.

I make no claims to superior health, but of note is that I was able to work a full week, beginning Monday night. No, I was not 100%, but figured that another night spent thrashing around in bed was a greater risk of driving me nuts than a night’s work. And so it turned out. When you think about something else, we de-power the ailment.

Did my vitamin and supplement regimen help my body recover from the onslaught? Perhaps. I doubt there is any way that I can link directly my company’s products with my ability to fight back. But even a 1% leg-up on these inevitable set-backs makes a difference. There’s no way to completely avoid something as virulent as this kind of flu, but keeping your body chemistry in good shape can’t be bad.

There. Now I’ve proved my initial point about the dullest topics of conversation. Well done, me.

On Two Feet

Five-dollar coffee - illogical, but worth it.
Five-dollar coffee – illogical, but worth it.

 

Selling has an undertone of trickery. Salesmen and saleswomen live close to the line between ethical behavior and pure rapaciousness, balancing doing the right thing with hunger for money. You need to watch yourself around them, lest they pick your pocket while charming your pants off.

 

There’s an element of cliche to this sentiment. Today, if you’re in the market to buy something, finding peer reviews, a cheaper alternative, a closer alternative, a higher quality alternative, or simply another choice is always only a click away. That’s the power and the challenge of the internet. No longer are folks sold stuff, they discover stuff. Salesfolk are rarely part of the process.

But buying can still be an emotional process. Logic says that paying fifty times more for a Luis Vuitton handbag than one from Target makes little sense. But the French leatherman thrives just as Target does. Money divided by emotion equals a sale for someone, but only the purchaser knows who.

I don’t want you to think I’m underestimating the power of emotion. Because we have so many choices, because we can know the quality and likely customer experience before we buy (think: Consumer Reports etc) and because hot competition in so many categories raises general standards everywhere, connecting with our purchases is more important than ever. How does it make us feel? What does it give us beyond just what’s in the box? What does it say about us?

Car manufacturers have forever pitched their products on this level, as have cosmetic companies and liquor sellers. Thesedays we have the ability to make a point with everything we buy, from our detergent to our prostate supplement.

That’s exactly where I find myself, starting out with first-rate products that connect with more than just your shopping list. That puts me as far from the salesman cliche as possible; a very good thing for both of us.