Back when I was the traveling salesman/factory rep, I had the opportunity to do a presentation for a re-seller in St. Louis. My task was to do a live demonstration to a prospect. My product was a server-based phone system. This was almost ten years ago so the equipment was rather bulky and time-consuming to set up. Since my demo kit usually traveled by air, it was not uncommon that the hardware had issues booting up due to the less than loving treatment it received from the baggage handlers.

While at the reseller’s office, I unpacked my demo kit to make sure that it would work prior to our visiting the prospect. Try as I might, I could not get the system to start. The local sales rep was going from aggravated to frenzied when I turned to him and said, “The day I can’t sell this with just a brochure is the day I get out of this business.” He calmed down. We did the presentation and all was right with the world.

I’m a big fan of being prepared. But in these days of auto spell check, GPS’s and speed dial, we have a tendency to let technology take over what used to be the creative process. When was the last time you picked up a dictionary to verify the spelling of a word, took out a map or used a phone book? Ever notice that the easiest way to get your bearings in a new location is to get lost? You force yourself to learn not getting lost.

In today’s business world not all questions have a pre-determined answer.  Processes are important for efficiency but the goal should be customer retention not just following standard operating procedure. Let us celebrate creativity and “thinking on our feet”. You can teach a clever person to be organized easier than teaching an organized person to be clever. Put those traits together and your goals of increasing both customer service and profitability will not go astray.

  1. encorenow says:

    There was a time in my sales career that I attempted to sell machines. Now, I have sold puka beads and pet rocks, but they were inert and didn’t have the ability to frustrate me. I think perhaps the machines knew that I didn’t like them. After about six months, I gave up and returned to selling something that I enjoyed. I started working with people and companies as a headhunter and found my happy place. Even that today has changed, and electronics have become an integral part of the process. I have changed along with the world. While it is good to move on, it serves us well to have the skills we developed before the machines took over.

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