Friday, May 08, 2009

The Art of Selling

Some kid just stopped by my house trying to raise money for college by selling magazines. Or at least that’s what I think he was doing. I didn’t end up buying anything, and not solely because I’m cheap (you all know that I am), but more so because I was just confused. As I shut the door it dawned on me how crucial the ability to sell something is as a skill. And of course as part of that effective communication.

As I came back to my desk I was picturing the scene from Boiler Room where the main character gives the telephone sales person a lesson on selling. I felt like I should’ve done the same for this poor guy. What he gave me was some strange round-about speech about “have you been to college” and “do you have any advice for me for college” and then started handing me these laminated cards and he’s talking about magazines and earning points... and at that point I was just like “dude, can’t handle it right now.”

A more effective approach would be to get back to the basics and hit up the good ol’ Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Ok, in this case he could probably could have struck the Where, but the others would have been infinitely useful. Allow me to illustrate:

Who: Hello, I am [name]

What: I have a dream of opening up a restaurant in Las Vegas and the first step for that dream is going to culinary school. Today I am out trying to raise money to help me achieve the first step of that dream. I am working with this project [hand first laminated sheet], which is a legitmate national organization.

How: Here [hand second laminated sheet] is a list of highly entertaining and insightful magazines that you can order through me. Each order that's placed helps me earn points that can lead to scholarship money for school.

Why: There are a lot of reasons to particiapte in this. First of all you will be helping someone achieve a life long dream. You will also recieve a magazine in exchange, which can bring you pleasure, education, or a little of both. You can also choose to purchase one of these magazines as a gift for somebody else. What are your interests? Maybe I can recommend a magazine from the list [which was quite long].

When: I have one shot at this program so I have to collect orders on the spot. I'd love to be able to give you more time to think about it, but that's not possible in this case.

Had I been approached like that, I would have been armed with all of the information necessary to make a decision, and might have felt more compelled to pick out one of the mags.

In fact, now that I think about it, there was a high school kid that came around last week raising money for his summer league. This kid was obviously younger than the fellow that stopped by today, but he had an intuitive grasp of the sales process. He started off by telling me his name and where he lived (Who and Where, if you like); that he was raising money for his high school's summer league team (What); he handed me a piece of paper and said that to contribute you could buy a car wash or pancake breakfast, or that you could simply donate money (How). The Why might have been the icing on the cake there, but I felt very informed very quickly and dug out $5 as a donation (I'm too lazy to take my car for a wash at the school's campus or go anywhere for a pancake breakfast).

There was also a difference in nerves between the two. The culinary school kid vibed that he was inconveniencing me while the baseball kid acted as if he was just doing his job. Going door to door isn't easy by any stretch, but I think you've got to approach it as if you've got something viable to sell (whether it's a charitable cause or some actual product) and that some people are going to want it and others aren't.

I think the baseball kid shows that some people have a natural ability for selling and just know how to phrase things to make them more palatable to customers. All's not lost for the rest though, because I think selling is very teachable and when you realize how much of life is selling -- whether you're selling a product or selling yourself -- there's a very strong case for nearly everyone learning how to sell.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm sorry to do this...

I've decided that since these two commercials have earwigged their way deep into the hippocampus of my brain and don't appear ready to leave anytime soon, I would do the disservice to all of you to spread the affliction, which, like many other affronts to the human race, began with the unholy union of chain restaurants and advertising agencies. Once again, Sorry.

Take one of these...

...and one of these...

...And count backwards from 100. Hopefully you'll pass out before the blood starts to run from your ears but in any case, don't be scared. When you wake up, you'll feel completely normal aside from an intermittant urge to eat bananafish pancakes in your garage. (if you've read the post before clicking on the links, that last phrase might not have made much sense. It will.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Resetting My Sleep Schedule

For pretty much all of my life I've had a pretty odd sleep schedule. I've tended to always prefer the night time and have been known to stay up until all hours of the night for pretty much no reason, and then sleep through much of the day. I've tried setting myself on a "normal" sleep schedule -- particularly since I married a woman with a very normal sleep schedule -- and the only way I've been able to achieve it is:

1) Using a high powered alarm clock set far away from the bed to get me out of bed in the morning
2) Ingesting large amounts of caffeine to jump start the system at the beginning of the day
3) Staying on the brink of exhaustion most of the time to allow me to fall asleep at a normal hour

But It's time to put those days behind me and the inspiration is this great illustration of circadian rhythms that I found in Wikipedia, complete with the good ol' Da Vinci man in the middle (click here for the larger version). So the new schedule is starting now, and that means going to bed between 11PM and 12AM -- after melatonin secretion has started and after bowel movements have been supressed -- and getting up in the morning at 7AM -- just after the sharpest rise in blood pressure and slightly before melatonin secretion stops.

But that's not all. This handy chart has encouraged me to do a whole lot more with my life. Here are a few of the other things that I am now setting out to do to make the most of my circadian rhythm:

  • Highest testosterone excretion is at 9AM, so this is when I will train everyday for my debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon. Of course, I will refuse to take any match that isn't scheduled at 9AM.
  • High alertness is at 10AM. This is when I will do all of my driving. If there are errands to run 10AM is when that happens, otherwise I stay inside.
  • Best coordination is at 2:30PM. Washing dishes and other house chores will take place at this time -- dropped, broken, and chipped dishes will be a thing of the past. I will also hone my shuriken throwing skills during this time slot.
  • At 3:30PM is the peak of reaction time so obviously this is the time I will set aside to play Wii baseball. Think you can get a 90mph fastball by me Mr. Wii? Think again.
  • Greatest cardiovascular efficiency and muscular strength comes at 5PM. I'll never succeed in my 9AM UFC debut without being in shape, so this is when my training will take place. Of course this will have to be done at home (no driving after peak alertness) and without any weights (why risk injuring myself with weights after peak coordination time?).
  • Highest blood pressure and body temperature occur at 6:30PM and 7PM, respectively. I will use this time to harvest my body's naturally elevated temperature and turn it into electricty to help power my house. Since no such device for doing that currently exists, I will use the peak alertness time on days that I don't drive anywhere to work on inventing such a device.
This schedule will obviously leave me little time for much else, however, there are still a couple decent times to contact me if you need to get in touch. Right around noon will be one such time since I have nothing scheduled for that slot. It is, however, about two hours past high alertness and two two and a half hours before maximum coordination, so be prepared for me to not pay particularly good attention to anything you have to say and don't be surprised if I drop the phone a few times.

Alternatively, between 7PM and 9PM would work. When I have my body heat harnessing device invented I will be spending this time slot extracting my body's heat, but I'm sure I'll be able to talk on the phone at the same time. I can't promise that the body heat extracting device won't be noisy, but I'm sure we can talk loudly.

This schedule also leaves me little time to blog, but I'll be sure to check back in in a couple of weeks to let readers know how my life has been elevated to supreme levels by following this schedule.