Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

The Newton Klotz Story (An amazing sales story & what you can learn)

Posted by Mark Gibson on Mon, Nov 05, 2012

I'm delighted to introduce you to business partner Adam Zais, VP Business Development at professional video hosting and analytics company Wistia, who related this story in a recent conversation and I asked him to write it down.

Actually Adam wrote this one down and quite a few more in a collection of sales stories and what we can learn from them....and we plan to publish them in a book next year.

Introducing Newton Klotz, Electrolux Salesman

One day my Dad calls the local Electrolux store to ask about buying a new hose for his vacuum. The sales guy, Newton Klotz, says, “Sure. I’ve got one of those in my car. About $15. I’ll drive it over...be there in about 15 minutes.” This totally delights my Dad so he says, “Sure, come on over.” 

Conversations, not Presentations

The Klotzmobile shows up at the house as promised. It’s a well-used Oldsmobile Vistacruiser station wagon jammed full of all sorts of parts and new & used vacuums. He rings the doorbell and greets my Dad with the part he wanted to fix the vacuum, but he also has a brand new, top-of-the-line Electrolux as well.

My Dad invites him in and thus begins the amazing stuff I promised you at the beginning. Old Newton is no fool. He knows that my Dad just wanted the new hose...a $15 sale. Not bad, in that selling the new hose is giving the customer exactly what he wants. Good on the karma scale, but not much commission. That only comes with the sale of new vacuums. But instead of launching into a hard sales pitch, our intrepid sales pro starts in on a line of conversation around how the hose wore out, which led to a discussion of lifestyle, kids, home-ownership, sports, you name it. Anything and everything EXCEPT vacuums.

Demonstration and Use of Props

After Newton has established a great deal of rapport with my Dad, he determines it's time to ask permission to do a demonstration.
Newton innocently asks my Dad if he wants to see something really cool and amazing. Sure says Dad. Newton throws a pocketful of dirt on the rug at my Dad’s feet. Holy shit! 

No worries says Newton and he proceeds to vacuum it up with the aforementioned brand-spanking-new, top-of-the-line unit. Dad is suitably (and predictably) impressed. To make a longer story a bit shorter, old Newton departs after my Dad has bought not one, but two new vacuums! One for upstairs and one for downstairs. Oh, and Newton threw in the new hose “just in case”. Total? Over 900 bucks!!!
  • Did Newton pressure my Dad into buying? No.
  • Did Newton manipulate my Dad into buying? Nope.
  • Did Newton wear my Dad down until he bought just to get him out of the house? Not in the slightest.

Lessons Learned

  1. Rapport opens the door to sales conversations.
  2. Seek to understand before opening your mouth about product.
  3. Seek permission to introduce the product and to demonstrate it.
  4. Newton had great interpersonal skills, learned and honed through experience and practice, not by memorizing "closing lines".
  5. Through their conversation, Newton discovered (is learned a better word?) that my Dad really did want two new vacuums. Mind you, I did NOT say that my Dad needed two new vacuums, let alone one. He WANTED them. 
  6. If all Newton did was sell the replacement part, he never would have learned this and made the larger sale. 
  7. If all Newton did was to do the high-pressure sales thing....same result. 
  8. Simply by having a conversation, not a “sales” conversation and not according to some pre-defined “line-of-questioning” put forth by some Sales Process mind you, did all this become possible. 

Connect Emotionally - Learn to Tell Stories
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Topics: sales, qualification, discovery, rapport

New Trade-Show Best Practices - Present from a Visual Confection

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, May 25, 2011

Do you attend B2B technology tradeshows? If you do, please answer the following questions to put you in the trade-show mind-set.
  • Do you love tradeshows or hate them, or do you see them as a necessary evil?
  • How good were the leads you got from your last tradeshow?
  • Is the tradeshow on the wane, or is still a viable marketing investment?
  • What's your tradeshow strategy as a vendor...are you like HubSpot and shun them, or do you select the best ones and invest in them?
  • Do you just talk to the visitor or you do a quick demo and hand out a brochure?
  • Do you have a 3-5 slide PowerPoint presentation with just the elements of your story?
  • How do you sort out the visitors who just want a stamp so they can enter the draw for the iPad from a potential prospect?
I attended a trade-show recently and used a visual confection to tell my story. (The confection below is an excerpt of the Advanced Marketing Concepts Whiteboard story - a visual confection).  According to Edward Tufte, Visual Confections are “ structures that consist of a multiplicity of image events that illustrate an argument, organize information, show and enforce visual comparisons; they should be transparent, straightforward, obvious, natural, ordinary, conventional…with no need for hesitation or questioning on the part of the viewer”

You have 20 seconds to hook the visitor, 3 minutes to engage, tell your story, qualify and get permission to follow-up

Visitors come thick and fast during the breaks and at lunch and drinks sessions. You have a 20 seconds to hook the visitor and between 2-4 minutes to discover their top issues, tell your story, qualify their interest and get permission for follow-up.
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Topics: qualification, visual confections, whiteboard selling

Adapting Sales Process for Long Term Survival

Posted by Mark Gibson on Sun, Jan 18, 2009

Over the Christmas holidays I took my daughter to the London Museum of Natural History, and among other exhibits, spent a good deal of time in the Charles Darwin Exhibit. Darwin has been in the news a lot lately as it’s his 200th anniversary and there are all sorts of metaphors and lessons being drawn from Darwin’s works.

I was struck by the exhibit and his genius and thought about my industry, the technology industry, and how this closed system has recently undergone violent upheaval. I asked a partner of ours, Barry Trailer co-owner of CSO Insights, (CSO Insights is a research firm that specializes in measuring the effectiveness of today's sales and marketing organizations), what his thoughts were on surviving in the current market, and they were insightful

Barry suggested, “Most companies will simply jettison people in a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cost, but this is not adapting to the new environment. The companies with formal sales process that mirrors the customer buying process, those who adapt their sales process when conditions change, are favored to be preserved while companies with informal or tribal sales process will find it very difficult and may go the way of the Dodo".

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Topics: killer products, sales performance, qualification

Priorities and Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Mark Gibson on Thu, Jul 03, 2008

Let's examine your company's sales effectiveness in light of your likely half-year sales results.

According to CSO Insights, "Sales Performance Optimization - 2008 survey", the top four initiatives that Chief Sales Officers plan to implement to improve sales effectiveness this year in priority order are;

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Topics: sales performance, qualification

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