The car that was never sold...

The salesman, the billionaire and the car that was never sold…

I have written about the importance of differentiating when talking about numbers as core metrics for success in the social web. Of course numbers are important (sometimes even beautiful), however we need to look deeper before we make conclusions. Because sometimes things are not as they seem. This leads me to a inspiring story I want to share with you.

Some of you might know that I have spent the first years of my career in the automotive industry. And this is how I learned about the story of a salesman. Let`s call him John for now. John was one of best performing salesmen in the world and the best in his country. He regularly outsold the average perfomance. The cars his customers bought were loaded with extras and individualized to the max. And as you can imagine they also did cost more than the standard models coming out of the factory. In short: He was crushing it! When people enviously asked him about his “magic” he shared the story which changed his career and life:

In his early years as salesman right after finishing his apprenticeship he was sitting at his desk alone one evening- just before closing hour – when the door opened and a sweaty guy in his late 40ies in sportswear entered the building. He obviously stopped by on his running route. John looked over and thought to himself “Oh, no… Another dreamer who came in to look at his dream car hoping that the Lord, will buy him a…”. It was quite late, John was tired from a long working day and he couldn`t wait to close the doors, put off his tie and go for drinks with his friends – as every Wednesday night. He observed the guy from a distance as he walked through the showroom looking at the most expensive models available. John was getting more and more impatient. Then the stranger tried to open the door to get into one of the cars. And it was the top notch model. John had enough: “Sir, excuse me – you are not allowed to touch the cars. It is reserved for our customers. Would you mind leaving now. And by the way you are not dressed appropriately for a place like this. And we are closing now…” The man looked at him calm and friendly excused himself for having caused trouble. He said good bye, wished John well and left the building. As John walked to the door to lock it he observed how the same man walked to a limousine which was waiting for him. A bodyguard was holding the door open, closed it behind him and off they drove. John couldn`t believe his eyes. He had not recognized the richest man around which was confirmed by the famous numberplate on the limo…

Well, shit happens, right? But it`s OK as long as we learn our lessons. And this was a big lesson for John and the initiating moment of his successful career as a salesman. After that day he made a promise to himself: Never ever would he judge people on their looks and his first impresion. Every customer would be treated like a billionaire in the future. From that day he dedicated his career to giving the best service to his customers – no matter what.

4 lessons we can learn from this story:
  1. Treat every contact/fan/follower like your best customer because he actually could be(come) it.
  2. Listen, be curious and use the data available to know with whom you are dealing and what he`s longing for.
  3. Be present and pay attention to details.
  4. Remember that it is not about you but about them.

Apart from that there have been multiple approaches to actually put a “value tag” on fans and followers. The latest estimation I know of defines the value at $3.60 per fan. PLEEEEASE stop looking at it like that. Think of yourself. Do you really want to be seen like $3.60? Even $1.000.000? Nobody wants to be seen as a commodity. We are human beings! Don`t look at your social media engagement only from a financial point of view. Don`t try to apply the stupid old school “marketing dollars approach” to the social web. We have the chance to rise to higher levels.

Getting back to the core of this post: The beauty about the social web is that you actually can build relationships on a broader scale and serve more people more easily. You can fuel emotions. You can solve problems. You can help. You can entertain. You can build relationships and trust. You can add value to the lives of your customers. You can listen first. And yes, you can even sell at the end. But remember: There is a social process to every business. Even if you want to close a deal at the end of the day – don`t emphasize the financial transaction. See it as a chance to show that your business has a heart and personality. That real people serve real people. This is also the reason why you should not outsource your social media engagement in the long run but keep it inhouse with your real team taking care of it.

The bad thing about social media marketing is that a lot of wannabe social media agencies do sell exactly that  – the old school model. Why? Because it is the easy money and less pain approach. They promise fast growth for your social media properties which has nothing to do with your real business and customers. They provide you with breath-taking graphs proving your incredible growth which is fueled not by love (for your product/brand) but  by marketing dollars. They buy fans for you. Fans who have no connection to you. They are there for the iPad once again. Read this interesting article about the two different models of agencies.

Closing I can only make a wish: That every customer, prospect, fan, follower, contact will be treated like he is your VIP – the billionaire. Because he actually is.

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  1. Posted October 15, 2011 at 00:33 | Permalink

    A masterpiece, Lefti! : )

    • Posted October 15, 2011 at 00:38 | Permalink

      Thank you, Mr. Hansen… When WALL STREET becomes LOVE STREET:)

  2. hannoy
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:51 | Permalink

    Thanks for the article.the story is known as the marketing 101 here in the states.which implies that it’s the first lesson you learn about marketing and customer service.
    but i believe the story needs to be updated to suite the global market that we live in,and cater to the social media that allows it to be.
    and that would lead me to the lessons learned:

    1-Treat every contact/fan/follower like your best customer because he actually could be(come) it.
    every connection with a contact is not only potential for a sale,it can (and will) lead to multiple sales. but it can (and will) lead you to other connections ,that can bring bigger sale. i will get back to this point with an experience of mine. but my point is not only “the word of mouth” system, rather the fact that if you are nice to the bodyguard ,and make a strong healthy relationship with him. there will be a day when he will bring his boss to buy.

    2-3-Listen, be curious and use the data available to know with whom you are dealing and what he`s longing for.Be present and pay attention to details :
    yes !! by all means!! it is truly an art form ( a fav of mine) to study and get to learn a new human’s fascinating,and intriguing ! Humans..they make life worth living !
    But i would like to “peoplize” the approach..humanize it ! And here is how : our contact with the a customer ( or potential one ) should always be a happy positive experience.
    we should make a customer or contact reliant and dependent on that experience . they should not associate us with a transaction, although it’s a pleasant one . nor a product.for

    no matter how good the product is there is always an expiration date on it ! ( it will be replaced with better models,or gets pulled out of the market) and we also move on to sell or

    represent other products. if we make a strong happy relationship with the customer.he/she will follow us . and are loyal to matter what we sell. And that is a longer lasting
    commitment from the customer. to share my experience on that (and i apologize for making this longer) i started working as a sales rep for one of the biggest department store
    as i was a college student (Saks Fifth Avenue) selling high end designer and couture clothes.Since my clients are very savy,and i was certain they heard all the tricks
    in the book. i never approached them to sell,i befriended them ! listened to their problems , laughed at their jokes,asked about their children

    so they made a habit of stopping by me,to chat and catch up,and most of the time they get in a good mood they end up buying an item. not only i had fun,i made friends,but my
    hours seemed short,and i made top sales in the store. my next semester i went to work for a fine jewelry store, for better hours that suited my student schedule, and was in line

    to my jewelry modeling career,only to see my “friends” follow me there not only to buy jewelry,but to ask me my opinion about new merchandise at my previous work.and i used
    to go on my lunch hours to that store to help them shop !

    i finally approached the store manager with the idea of scheduling appointments with my clients with them to shop in the store , and i would be paid on commission base. since
    he saw my high selling numbers in the past ..he agreed. and i became “a personal shopper” whatever my client needed for any person ,or any occasion in their lives,i catered to.

    I did not think i was working for a corporation. i made myself the corporation!! I invested in me..and we ( I and the corp) benefited .

    Needless to say my selling numbers at the jewelry store were again the highest in the region..only because i came with a strong fan base of followers !

    whom i never considered as clients , but friends.

    4-Remember that it is not about you but about them. Again i have to update this statement that’s been used for ages ! for this reason :
    Honor the choice. Honor the chance !!
    As in this global market, and with full access to it all,the customer made a choice of dealing with us, and we should honor that choice with the best of service.
    If we believe that it was a mere chance that the customer chose us.we still have to honor it, otherwise we would lose our touch with humanity and the world.
    And the chance that was given to us will be lost. If we don’t give the best service somebody else will ! so at the end it is about you !! it is about your loss.

    I am in total agreement with you on refusing the”value tag”.as a concept and as an is so unreal,and it takes me nowhere! it is sad to see over and over again this obsessive approach (at least in american markets) of putting a formula on success, or trying to reinvent the wheel, only to justify the” fluff” of service they are trying to market.
    repackaging the old , basic formula that is working.and claiming they have something new,and a new approach !
    if it is the sun, i don’t need to see it from different angles !! i don’t need to give it a new name..or put a number on it !! it is the sun .just live it. love it.!!
    and i’m also a big fan of kiss : keep it short and simple.

    Not to forget about the story i promised you earlier (under 1) let me tell you about my Russian girlfriend named Anna :
    i met Anna in Santa Barbara (the Monte Carlo of north America) while i was working in the jewelry store. i was on my way out of the restaurant i was having lunch at,and
    she had just walked in to ask for directions to a store. Her english was riddled with a thick accent ,that the waiter couldn’t understand nor help her. I offered to help and walked
    her to her destination. On our way i found out that she just came in to california for a job,and she needs to shop for work clothes.I offered to take her to the department store
    where i was on commissioned as a personal shopper,only to find out that the prices are way out of her budget range.So i took her to another store ,and helped her out with few
    choices. Before i left her we exchanged phone numbers, and i offered to show her around town , or answer any question ,as she knew nobody .
    I didn’t hear from her for a while,so i gave her a call and asked her to join my group of friends for dinner,so i can introduce her to more people.and she can get better acquainted.
    we repeated the outings, but i have to admit i met a lot of resistance from her, but i knew all along that she was lonely,sad,and homesick. but her pride or ego got in the way
    of expressing it ,or showing any side of it( know with whom you are dealing and what he’s is longing for.Be present and pay attention to details)
    so i never gave up on her , and insisted she would join me for dancing or concerts and movies.

    The poor thing after 9 mos.she couldn’t deal being away from her country,and decided to go back.We exchanged emails and stayed in touch. a month after her departure
    i realize she had written a letter to the chairman of the department store,and one to the jewelry store to praise my work.
    In a couple of years i receive an email from her telling me she is engaged to be wed , and wants to buy her ring from my store in California. Wait the repay is not here yet!

    We started communicating about her ring,only to realize that her fiance disapproves of the purchase from California,for the diamonds in Russia are of better price and value.
    i did agree with him (to her dismay) and decided to design something for her and recommended the stone’s cut ,shape , and quality. To have the ring be made in Russia.
    When she offered to pay for my design, i declined ,and told her to have her wear my design on her hand for the rest of her life , is more than an honor to me.
    i received an invite to her wedding that i couldn’t pass. And upon my arrival i realize the magnitude of the wedding,and find out that she was getting married to a big VC
    whom is dubbed “the octopus” for he has deals,companies,and ventures that covered every business and trade under the sun !!

    Her groom got interested in the type of business i am involved with,and closed a big deal with me for the company i am working with in Switzerland . The commission on that
    deal was thousands times bigger than what i would have made on any from her.But it was my connection to her, my loyalty to her friendship,and respect i paid to honor
    the chance of knowing her,led me to the bigger deal.

    in conclusion ,although i’m a big fan of lil Wayne song ” women lie.. numbers don’t lie !!” i agree with you..when it comes down to social media, and
    networking,somethings don’t “count” or apply. it’s only common sense !!

    As for the: DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER ? issue..and take it form a girl,my dear Eleftherios Hatziioannou, yes it does : HOW BIG IS YOUR LOVE ??

    See you on love street 🙂


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