Saturday morning found me at the Winhall General Store in downtown Bondville, Vermont (pop. 647) talking with Red, who was out reading the Brattleboro Reformer on the front porch bench, along with his yellow lab, Blue.
Another perfect day in paradise, and for me a perfect day to "get things done". "Getting things done", is what promoted me on Friday afternoon to load up the car with cats, equipment, bags of Home Depot garden rocks, and, most importantly cases of cheap red wine, and make the trek from the NH beach to the VT mountains.
Can't get there from heah!
Trying to motor horizontally across any of the New England states demands that one needs to do mindless things like listen to NPR politics, otherwise having to travel north so that one can travel south so that one can travel west, is very frustrating. 67 miles as the VT eagle flies becomes 185 driving miles south, west, north, south and finally west.
Gettin' Things Done
Prompted by scattered bits of digital reminders and a long refrigerator list of "Things-to-Do-in-Vermont", resulted in The-24-Hour-NH-VT-NH-Run, so bright and early, following the requisite breakfast sandwich at the general store, the tasks began. Work-Work tasks came first, of course, before the complicated task of setting up the new Keurig.
Gotta love the Keurig guys, although the over-packaging was a bit too much, even for me, but I love the company and the coffee. We worked with the Keurig team when the total employee count was sub-10, and the vision was driven by strong entrepreneurs with a long term vision, along with the funding fueled by the genius of the investors at Memorial Drive Trust.
After completing three other easy tasks and consuming two cups of Kenya Bold, I found myself on my hands and knees beginning the numbing task of the hand-sanding-staining-waterproofing of the front door sill.
Three hours of inch-by-inch sanding with four grades of decreasing grit sandpaper was only interrupted by...
... The Door-to-Door-Bible-SalesGuy
In a world where ordering over-packaged, FedEx-delivered commodities by typing into Google or asking one of my three inter-wired Alexas to do the heavy lifting for me, I rarely venture out anymore to "go shopping". Articles abound from the WSJ to Business Week to Forbes about the declining impact of retail stores in general and the hollowing out of malls everywhere. For example, Sears (they should just shoot it and get the agony over with) just announced over last weekend the closing of yet another 43 of its stores.
So, in this one-click, one-voice Amazonization of buying and selling stuff, who would ever have thought that Jerry, the door-to-door bible salesguy still existed. And, yet there he was, hand extended, walking up to my front door with the still-unfinished sill on Saturday morning dressed in a white short sleeve shirt, a tightly tied green tie along with matching slacks and socks. In his other hand was a well-worn briefcase and a small selection of nicely-packaged, colorful bible samples and a stack of equally colorful trifold brochures.
Let's put Jerry's door-to-door sales plan into perspective
- All of Vermont has only 624,594 residents. The population is declining 0.2% / year.
- The number of housing units is 329,529. Could there be a potential of one bible buyer per unit?
- Bondville has 647 residents. The nearest "big town" is 15 miles away and has 1,600
- My 3 mile dirt road has a total population of 12 houses, 6 of which are owned by flatlanders who primarily visit only in the winter for 12 weekends a year. None of them is going to be buying a bible.
- Jerry is religious enough, loves The Lord, and is passionate about "The Word of God"
- He's been doing this for 10 years, works 6 days a week, and he clearly loves his work
- He is totally focused on his products and understands them fully. He's sells bibles, not religion.
- He has an exacting prospect persona: 40+, rural, conservative, man or woman doesn't matter
- He has a strong, customer-focused, value proposition. "When you need one, it's there"
- Prices range from $100 to an average of $89.99 for "a nice bible".
- He fully understands his competitors, including "free", and he can sell against "free"
- He gets paid a small base, plus benefits and expenses and earns a 20% commission
- He exactly knows his commission / bible / time-of-day / mile-of-travel calculation
- His marketing is his business card and those colorful, easy-to-leave-at-the-door brochures
- His sales tools are his GPS, a paper street map, and his mobile-enabled tablet, with is always-on CRM with interactive, always-engaged Google Maps. Jerry may be "old school", but he exactly understands the waterfall math of his own sales productivity and what he can do to meximize his own efficiency.
Bottom line, Jerry is a professional salesguy.
- He's passionate about his products.
- He puts in six long days every week. He's focused on his customer's available time, not his
- He fully understands the blocking and tackling, not just for a general sales plan, but actually of what it takes in the numbers of miles of streets driven and the personal management of his own time spent sitting at the kitchen table or on the front stairs, executing and closing an $89.99 deal.
- He exactly knows the four buyer personas of whom he should be selling to and why they buy. If the persona is not available, he makes a polite introduction, positions a quick goodbye, and leaves behind his business card and one of his colorful trifold brochures.
- He has a very direct and easy-to-remember Value Proposition... "When you need a bible, (by buying one from me now), it will be there in your time of need."
- Jerry knows that he actually doesn't sell bibles. He actually sells comfort and trust.
Some very valuable lessons to remember this week as we dig into the critical summer months of the 3rd quarter.
Thanks, Jerry, on the very valuable sales lesson about the sales basics of executing, of closing the sale and of time management...and, of course, for selling me the 400th Anniversary Edition of the King James version with the majestic deep blue cover!
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