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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Washed Out Selling

The washing machine at Bill’s house had a meltdown and his wife replaced it with a new washer/dryer combination leaving them with a dryer still in good working condition. Bill asked his wife, “What are you going to do with the old dryer?

She responded, “I’m going to put a sign on it saying ‘In Good Working Condition – Take It If You Need It’ and set it out on the lawn next to the street. There’s bound to be a young couple just starting out that can use it.”

However, a week later the dryer was still out on the lawn and Bill decided it was time for him to work his magic. He told his wife, “Twenty years of running a business has taught me all there is to know about people and how to sell. Asking nothing for something tells people it’s worth nothing. Watch the master and learn.”

Bill proceeded to change the sign to read, “Outstanding Dryer with Lots of Years of Dependable Service Remaining. ONLY $99.95”

When he got home that evening, he noticed the dryer was gone so he entered the house and triumphantly asked his wife, “Who’s the best and why am I soooo awesome? Sellin’ dryers is no different than sellin’ anything. How much did you get for it?”

With a smirk on her face, she said, “Nothing.”

Bill exploded, “What did you do? Give it away when you had a cash customer?”

Trying her best not to laugh, she answered, “I have to hand it to you, Bill — You really know people and how to sell. Someone stole it.”

I am often asked what the key element is to ensure a business thrives and prospers. The most obvious (but strangely overlooked) is finding a group of people willing to pay for your product or service.

It was Arthur H. (Red) Motley who said – “Nothing happens until somebody sells something”. It is still used frequently today, some three decades after his death, and is recognized as a valid business proverb that is consistent with his belief that a sales force is vital to the success of any business. It is funny to hear the academic world today using the elaborate term “customer acquisition”. In my book, getting someone to pay money for your product or service is and always will be selling.

I do think that there has been a HUGE shift within the selling world. The term “sales” has taken a beating over the years, for many people the word brings up the following images: sleazy, annoying, inauthentic, manipulative, ulterior motive and sneaky. All this negativity resulted from years of being taken advantage of by bad salespeople that deceived.

Today people would rather talk to a knowledgeable customer service person over a sales rep any day of the week. The reason for this is obvious – the perception is a customer service professional is providing information and helping them meet their needs. A sales person is trying to sell them something for the sales person’s gain (a big commission check).

The old-school ‘‘mind-games” selling is so antiquated it’s almost laughable. People have the entire web at their fingertips and are savvy and very knowledgeable. They do their homework, they are well informed. And because of this knowledge they buy…they are not sold with tricks anymore.

We need to learn from Bill’s bad example…in order to succeed as businesses here in Tama County the sooner we realize that it’s not about you, it’s not about your company, it’s not even about your product or service…. it’s about meeting customers’ needs and adding value to THEM. We never need to sell with mind games – we simply need to INFORM and SERVE. By providing solid useful information and helping people meet their goals, we then can establish trust. If we establish trust, customers will come back and they will bring friends.


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