Radio show on how technology is changing buying and selling

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed me, Doc Searls, Rob Walker and Neela Sakaria as part of this very interesting Future Tense radio show about how technology is changing how we buy and sell.


How to sell an idea to Steve Jobs

Of all the books which have been written about working with Steve Jobs, the best, I think, is Ken Segall’s Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success. Segall worked as a creative director at Chiat Day for much of its long association with Apple, and his book is full of insightful stories about Apple’s famed marketing practices. It’s well written, original and well worth reading.

One of my favorite stories in the book concerns a meeting between Lee Clow, the head of Chiat Day, and Jobs.

Lee Clow – ad man and salesman

Jobs and Clow were reviewing the content for an iMac commercial. Jobs was a fiend for simplicity, but on this occasion, he was convinced that the commercial needed to say four or five things in a thirty-second spot. Clow and the creative team insisted it should say just one thing. But Jobs wasn’t budging.

So finally, Clow tore five sheets of paper from his notepad and crumpled them into  give balls.

“Here, Steve, catch,” said Lee as he tossed a single ball of paper across the table. Steve caught it, no problem, and tossed it back.

“That’s a good ad,” said Lee.

“Now catch this,” he said, as he threw all five paper balls in Steve’s direction. Steve didn’t catch a single one, and they bounced onto the table and floor.

“That’s a bad ad,” said Lee…Steve didn’t exactly break down and pledge never to question us again. However, he did appreciate the point. Lee’s demonstration lightened the tone of the conversation and turned the tide for us. When we left the room, we had the go-ahead for a much simpler ad than the one Steve had in his head at the start.”

Translation help required…

I was just alerted to a Portuguese review of The Art of the Sale. Translation below.

I also just received a request from a business owner in Colombia who wanted to buy 50 copies of the book for his sales force – if only it were available in Spanish…

Thanks to Emilio Cecconi and Matt Lambert for help with the translation:

The Art of the Sale is very interesting because the writer of the book goes searching around the world for great examples of what makes a good salesman.  The book has many stories from diverse situations.  When you read the book you have a good idea of what makes a good salesman.

“And what story did you enjoy a lot?”

The story of the salesman from morocco is extraordinary.  The salesman is able to analyze the people who enter his store.  He is able to understand exactly what the customer is looking for.

“And what did you take away from this book the Art of Sale?  What did it change about how you approach your job?”

Companies that have a sales force generally look for other books.  They look for books that have a formula so people can sale.  This book is different.  He looks through the eyes of common people.  He takes stories that are very close to us.  He shows about the small details things that make a good salesman.

“Is it possible to be a good salesman if you aren’t an empathetic person?”

It is not easy.   Being empathetic helps a lot in being a good salesman and a good communicator.  You need to listen to people. You have to have to listen very well to what people want.

On the slide: A good salesman doesn’t sell products or services, he a facilitator of solutions.

Focus on the client on the entire process of the sale, from the preparation to the post sale.

“Inside your job did this book not change the way you do business?”

  No no, this book is required reading.  Everybody can relate to a certain part of it.



Salesmanship not leadership

Maureen Dowd in the NYTimes on October 9th describing the President’s squeamishness on the stump:

At a fund-raising concert in San Francisco Monday night, the president mocked Romney’s star turn, saying, “What was being presented wasn’t leadership; that’s salesmanship.”

It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. His latest fund-raising plea is marked “URGENT.” But in refusing to muster his will and energy, and urgently sell his vision, he underscores his own lapses in leadership and undermines arguments for four more years.

Romney has shown the same reluctance about selling at various times in his campaign. But both men owe it to voters to get over this. It’s hard to think of a momentous political change which hasn’t occurred without a great sales effort, whether it’s the civil rights movement, the overturning of apartheid South Africa, President Reagan’s economic reforms, the first President Bush’s assembly of the coalition to force Iraq out of Kuwait… politicians owe it to whomever elects them or supports them to persuade them that what they are doing is right. There’s nothing sleazy or underhand about this. It doesn’t undermine their integrity as leaders, in fact it strengthens them.

Negative sales stereotype no. 3,678,478

This one from The New York Times’ review of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoir Total Recall.

Conan the Salesman

This book ends with a not-great list of “Arnold’s Rules.” They are basic (“Reps, reps, reps”), boorish (“No matter what you do in life, selling is part of it”), big on denial (“When someone tells you no, you should hear yes”) and only borderline helpful.

Of all the boorish things Schwarzenegger may have done in his life, selling would seem to be the least of them.