Aug 7, 2012

The Hard Sell

Hmm, that subject line sounds like a great title for an erotica novel. (note to self: remember that if I decide to switch genres :). Anyway, I realize it’s been a while since I posted an actual written-by-me update. Apologies for anyone who might have missed me (don’t all wave your hands now). Between launching The Mourning Woods, and jumping right into my next project, Devil Hunters, my brain has been fizzling a bit.

If it were only that, all might be fine, but my family and I have also been busy trying to pretty up the dingy hovel we live in. Considering my overall handiness, this has obviously proven to be an uphill battle. Thus, we’ve decided to hire out with regards to some of the larger projects. That way we ensure things get done correctly and that any fears I might have about getting myself out of debt are put firmly to rest.

In working through our latest improvement project, new windows and siding, I’m beginning to see parallels with conduct in the writing world. Well OK, that’s a stretch. Truth be told, the same parallels exist in any business, but since I’m not in ANY business, we’ll let that silliness slide for now.

Anyway, projects such as these typically start with checking out a company. There are testimonials to read, BBB ratings to check out, customer reviews (on sites like Service Magic and Angie’s List) to plow through, references to check etc etc. Anyone who can’t pass those basic checks doesn’t make it through my front door. Sure some of that can be faked, but it just means a little more due diligence on my part to try to spot anything dodgy. Looking for a good book is probably not quite as consuming (but then, I haven’t spent $20K+ on a book in quite some time), but similar in concept. One wants to take steps to hopefully ensure they’re not going to regret their decision.

Then there are the products. Windows and siding aren’t all created equally. One doesn’t want to cheap out, but then again one doesn’t want to get taken to the cleaners either. I want to see, to touch, to smack a hammer against the glass and try to shatter it into a million pieces (oddly enough, most companies don’t seem to appreciate this latter method). Similarly, samples and Look Insides are a good tool in the book business to do the same thing...minus maybe the part about smashing it.

Finally, there’s the sale itself. Pop culture has many references to the door-to-door vacuum salesman who’ll do anything to get his foot in the door, often to great comedy relief. They’re those go getters who absolutely will not take no for an answer. Some people respond well to this type of hard sell.

I’m not one of them.

I don’t know about you, but I like a sales pitch that proves to me that I’m speaking to a human. Talk to me like a person, not a wallet. Show me a little honesty in your product (i.e. “Our products are absolutely childproof” vs. “Our child locks are better than most, but let’s face facts...there’s very little a smart kid isn’t going to figure out”). And most of all, when I tell you I need time to think it over - respect that! I understand it if you need to give me your one-time-only price - good if I sign up today - but when I say no to that, do not question my decision by commenting “I guess you don’t want to save the money.” And NEVER ever try to argue me into a sale.

This thinking also reflects on how I buy books and how I want to sell them. While I don’t pretend to make a secret of what I do (you'll notice that link up above :), I prefer to not knock on your door in the middle of dinner either. If you tell me you’re going to buy my Bigfoot book for your ten year old because he loves monsters, I’m going to jump in front of you with my hands up and scream, “Whoa there, Hoss!” Put me on your TBR list and I’ll be grateful, not bugging you for how long it is. Ask me about my kids and I won’t try to steer the conversation toward my books. And finally, if you tell me you absolutely have no interest in my stuff, that’s OK. It doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends.

Perhaps all of that makes me a lousy sales person, but so be it. I just wish more businesses would take that approach. I understand times are tough and the economy (still) stinks, but remember...more flies with honey than vinegar. Give me the facts, let me do my part for as long as I need to, and talk to me like a fellow human being and you’re that much more likely to have me as your customer. Annoy me, and I’ll take my business elsewhere. That’s not a threat, that’s reality.


Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

I think I'm a terrible sales person, but at least I'm real LOL!

This is such a great comparison. And it reminds me that we really need to finish our basement. Six people in a 3 bedroom house is awfully scrunchy. :)

Devil Hunters--I LOVE that title. Can't wait for that one to come out :)

Tammy Bleck said...

Hi Rick, my father would tell me that every day I walked out of the house I'm selling myself in one way or another. He was right. We live what we do and our personalities shine through. That could be good or bad. Personally for me, it's sometimes both. I agree with you wholeheartedly about being real, not pushy or rude. It will generally get you nowhere fast, which is exactly where you should be going if that’s your style. Kudos to you, my friend. Take the stand and stand firm. Respect!

Janie Junebug said...

For God's sake, don't get out of debt because then I'd be jealous and you don't want to know what a bitch jealousy makes me. Other than that, I'm quite lovely, as everyone knows.