I love the Asics Mexico 66’s. Besides being hip and awesomely comfortable, these shoes are historic in significance. These shoes were first used by runners in the Mexico Olympic Games in 1962.
I found the perfect pair at Zappos as they carry every possible combination, but after I added them to my cart, I didn’t click checkout!
I didn’t want to pay for shoes that I could find cheaper elsewhere. Sure, I’d heard stories about Zappos’s culture and how they provide the best customer service, but all that never mattered to me. “They’re just shoes!” I would say. “What’s customer service got to do with shoes??” Ultimately it was about the money and I proceeded to find a better deal elsewhere.
Untill… I got an email with a subject line I thought was so curious that I had to click on it.
When I finally read the message corresponding with the picture of Dash the Dog I immediately clicked Buy Now! I didn’t even think twice!
After a while I reflected on why I made that decision. Why had I paid $10 more than I could have paid elsewhere for a pair of shoes? What was so special about this email?
The answer to that, I later realized, was emotion. Emotion is the fundamental motivation that drives every major buying decision people make. People justify emotions with logic, but this only happens later, once the emotion has created a desire to want something.
You buy a sports car because of the way it makes you feel behind the wheel. You tell your wife that it was a good deal, with a good waranty, or that you talked down the price by $5k. But the core of it is the emotion, the desire you felt when you day dreamed about it: windswept hair, roar of the engine, the g-forces pulling your body tense, flying past the world.
Dash the Dog made a simiar emotion connection with me. I actually pictured him standing by my shoes, guarding, and I couldn’t bear to keep him waiting. I felt a personal connection with Dash the Dog in that moment. It created a desire to own those shoes.
Desire is the most powerful and fundamental force that makes people buy, and desire is entirely an emotional response. If you can evoke this emotion within another person, you can sell them anything.
Sometimes products evoke emotions automatically, so they sell themselves. Sometimes companies like Zappos, Apple etc. evoke emotion. And sometimes, it is the people who are pitching the product, who can evoke this emotion.
In my next post I will explore ways in which people create desire within others.
You’ll often see a sales person kiss that lucky charm or wear that out of place tie. Sales people are highly superstitious. Often times they rely on these ‘lucky’ objects to help them feel confident and close deals. The question is, does it work?
Of course the natural tendency is to be skeptical. Objects don’t help close deals. But lets examine for a minute why sales people so adamantly stick to their charms.
Sales is a contact sport. More than any other profession, sales people are in constant contact with a stream of new people. That means multiple new interactions per day. Multiple times a sales person engages with another person in another setting, in another part of the world, with a completely different set of circumstances governing the person’s mood and state of mind.
In other words a sales person is constantly bombarded with diverse emotions and energies. Above all a sales person’s motto is always to be happy and uplifting. But this is very difficult when the person on the other end can be cynical, or angry or sad. He/She could have lost a loved one, or just have been threatened by the mafia (it happens!)
But a sales person must maintain his state. Must keep his cool, must retain his smile and not let other people’s circumstances affect him. Thats the only time he closes deals.
So when the torrent of outside forces are too much to bear, a sales person relies on his lucky charms, his worn-out tie, his ridiculous checkered ‘Steve Urkel’ closing pants. He does it to feel confident that he can close. He uses it as a proverbial armor to protect him from the threat of foreign states and to maintain a positive attitude. And every time he closes a deal, his friends whisper the legend of the ‘closing tie.’
Until he learns to master his state, to smile in the face of angry no’s, let him hold on to his superstitions. It will help him close a deal.
(Disclaimer: Written while wearing my closing pants)
(Disclaimer II: This post first appeared on the Elastic Inc. Blog on Aug 9th where I am one of the founding team)
This is a lesson I learned while I was the co-founder of FitSquid. Since then I’ve moved on to bigger and better things at ElasticInc.com. Nevertheless this lesson is timeless! I use it everyday for my work at Elastic. Here is my rewind back in time:
I’m the biz-dev guy for my Startup (www.FitSquid.com) so I get to do all the sales (oh Joy!).
Growing up I had always been told by my family that I would be a good sales man. That I could convince anyone of anything by relentlessly persuading them to death! So it seemed natural that I would do sales for FitSquid. I am a mechanical engineer by trade, so besides some top level product development and business strategy, I just leave the coding to Katzr or The Machine.
So why is it that after weeks and weeks of calling, and tremendous interest, I was not able to get ANYONE to sign on the dotted line? Why would I always get the run around? The “Sorry, its been insane here! I’ll do it tomorrow, i promise!” or the “Hey I have to take my kids to practice, call me Monday… or the I have blah blah for blah blah, so call me later!”
If you have ever done any sales, you know this happens a lot!
So how did I break out of this? How did I get real results and start closing deals? Well when Steli from Swipegood called me, and said “Close a fucking gym” and would not take any excuses from me, I knew I had to try something different. Steli says a sales person should be “shameless” Its not enough to be persistent. You have to be relentless and ruthless. You cannot feel bad for intruding on their time, and you can’t feel like you are bothering them from their important tasks. You are low on their priority list of shit-to-get-done, so you have to find a way to get up to the top of that list. Never mind if you feel you are annoying them. They will respect you more in the end.
So after being railed by Steli for 20 minutes, I got back on the phone. Later that evening, I closed my first gym.
When I triumphantly announced my close to Steli, he said “Congratulations, now close a fucking second gym.”
I think the number one reason people don’t take risks is because they are too afraid to fail.
Thank you Captain Obvious!
Bear with me here. You’ve heard your friends tell you about this brilliant idea they have? You’ll even see them begin researching it, and planning on how they are going to be rich! For that one moment, they truly feel like they have invented the next ipod!
What invariably happens? They find out that someone else has already done it. That Apple, or Google or <insert random startup name> has beat them to the punch! Whats their next reaction? “Never mind, someone else is already doing that!”
An entreprenuer’s reaction to that is always “well how can we be different?” A normal person’s reaction is to give up. I say ‘normal person’ because an entrepreneur is not normal. The key difference is FAILURE! A ‘normal person’ will try his best to avoid failure, while an entrepreneur will seek it out (Aren’t we nuts??).
What I tell such ‘normals’ when they give up on their ideas because they have just found out that someone else has beat them to it, is “There is more than one company that makes toothpaste!”
That is my favorite example because after years of tweaking you would think that one brand would have the perfect toothpaste formula, so everyone should use that brand (personally I think thats Colgate, but i digress!). In reality everyone has different tastes, and everyone will give you the perfect justification of why they believe their toothpaste is the best!
Ok idiot, whats your point?
Well my point is that our world is so diverse, so complex, and so vast, that there is room for more than one flavor of toothpase… and therefore whatever the idea they came up with.
Back to Failure.
What I think about Failure is that it is a game of probability. Success is improbable, but possible. You just have to roll the dice enough times, take enough chances, fail enough times till you roll snake eyes and take the house! (Pardon the Vegas reference!)
You must wear failure out…
So you are an aspiring entrepreneur and you have dreams of running your own company someday… but how are you going to keep people engaged in your dream? What’s going to keep those salaried employees working hard, and sticking with you through the thick and thin? I bet you think you have a great idea… but then how many people end up becoming good managers? Statistically you are likely to be a bad manager. How can we remedy this?
Well you may already know exactly what not to do if you’ve ever worked for a terrible company
I have the great fortune of holding a day job. GASP! I am a project hacker engineer at a small Aerospace company (while I try and change the world of fitness with my new startup www.FitSquid.com)
But I truly feel blessed, and I’ll tell you why! 4 years of working for someone else, and I know now how NOT to run a company! As I get ready to leave, the greatest management experience I have had is being managed poorly. If you have had such good fortune, consider yourself lucky, because you now know exactly what not to do when you run your own company.
Ok so you may not know how to make the best business decisions yet without some trial and error, but atleast as far as keeping employees happy you’ve had a good start!
I’ve tried to break it down into 3 tenets that keep employees happy:
Money: A good starting salary and continued and predictable raises every 6 months to a year go a long way to keeping employees from jumping ship. duh! yes I know, but I haven’t had a raise in over two years, so this is a issue close to my heart!
Growth Prospects: Personal and professional growth is one of the most important and motivational aspect of employment, and a good company will dangle this proverbial carrot whenever possible.
Autonomy: Perhaps the single biggest factor in keeping an employee happy. It’s in our nature, as humans and employees to want freedom. That is why, many ultimately strive to start their own business. Besides the money, your own business gives you the ultimate perceived freedom of being your own boss. You’d be surprised how many people won’t quit their jobs, simply because they have autonomy over their jobs.
As an employer you need to fulfill atleast one of these tenets to keep low/average employees, two of these for good employees, and all three if you want to keep the best!
What am I missing in this? I would love to hear of your comments.
Discussion to continue on Hacker News!
But seriously, welcome, and please leave an intellectually stimulating comment. This blog is as much a question to you, as it is an expression of my thoughts.