“Sell Me This Pen” The Right Way

Last week Brandon and I had the pleasure of helping out at Campbell Collegiate with some mock job interviews. We were pared with students from grades ten and eleven and grilled them on their skills, interests, and experience as we attempted to find a student we would “hire” to work at Strategy Lab. Being the weirdo that I am, I asked almost exclusively out-of-the box questions like “Who do you think would win in a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear?” and “How would you describe the colour red to someone who’s never seen colour?”. One test I used for every candidate was the old-school Jordan Balfort challenge: “Sell me this pen”.

Traditionally this is used to develop persuasive, cold-call sales techniques which is more than a little sleazy, but there was method to my madness. At the beginning of the day we were given free Conexus-branded pens (thanks guys!) and as I handed one to each interviewee to sell me I was hoping against hope that someone would think big enough to use the Conexus brand in their sales pitch.

As far as TED Talks go Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” has been used to death in marketing circles to the point where it’s almost become a tired cliche. I stress “almost” because I think it’s truly timeless and I get something new from it every time I watch it. My interviews with these kids were the most beautifully perfect embodiment of the “Why-How-What” concept.

What?

The majority of the students immediately tried to sell me on the different features of the pen like the stylus, the grip, the ease of use, etc. The bells and whistles that made it a good pen among pens, but didn’t really make me want to buy it. I mean, if I already have a pen why would I shell out money for this specific one? They were trying to sell on the “what”.

How?

A handful of the interviewees told me all the things I could do with the pen. Doodle, write notes, draw pictures, you name it. They positioned the pen as a means to an end and something that would solve a problem I had. This went one step beyond just showing off the features because they were identifying something I needed to do and trying to sell me the solution, or the “how”. But I wasn’t satisfied.

Why?

One student out of eight took the bait. It’s my second last interview of the day. I hand her the pen and she thinks for a while, then turns to me and asks “Can I use the Conexus logo in my pitch?” Up until now no one had even seemed to notice the logo, so I start to nod excitedly. “Well I would probably ask you first if you were a Conexus member, then I’d tell you that by buying this pen you’d be supporting us so we can help more people”. I’m freaking out at this point. Finally, someone sold me the “why”.

Here’s the moral of the story. Modern marketing requires us to not only show off the features or solve people’s problems, but to actually connect with them and make them feel something. There’s a reason paid programming “As Seen on TV” ads seem almost laughable these days. There’s a reason the practice of trying to convince people buy something they aren’t in the market for seems inherently sleazy. Creating a belief or a community or a world-changing vision creates intrinsic motivation in your customer base to not only buy from you, but to love you. Once you have that, you’ll never need to market again.

 

 

Sales is dead; long live sales-selling

Sales is Dead, Long Live Sales | eps 59 #inthelab


In school we were taught that sales is one of if not the most important function of business. Without sales you don’t exist. Sales people made the most money, had the best schedules and took the most time off. It was good to be a sales person.

Sales rules all.

 sell me this pen!

Then it went overboard, movies glorified the best sales people, ABC! ALWAYS BE CLOSING! Don’t forget “Coffee’s for closers!” I would repeat lines from the Wolf of Wall Street but they’re far too vulgar.

Then something happened. These amazing sales people seem more like sleazy used car sales people than glorified titans of business.

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Why stratlab doesn't have a ceo president or formal boss

Why Stratlab Doesn’t Have a CEO, President or Formal Boss 

the starfish and the spiderWe at Stratlab are growing a “Starfish” organization, stolen from Ori Braffman’s the Starfish and the Spider, the story of leaderless organizations.

I don’t believe the future is in an organizational chart that dictates a clear divide between management and employees. The future is a leaderless organization. An organization that doesn’t need constant management, an organization where you’re free to make decisions on your own, we hope they are good ones but we know we can’t control that.

What we can control is how StratLab grows as a Starfish, by taking on bigger and better (more impossible) problems. To do this structure is a hindrance to true creative brilliance hence why at Stratlab we have as few rules a humanly possible.

The starfish and the spider

The current way to organize a business with Executives, Management and Employees dates back to the 1600’s

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you don't have to win awards to be fricken amazing

You Don’t Need To Win Awards To Be Fricken’ Amazing

One day in the StratLab office Eddy says,
“eh, chew guys ever see Aaron Draplin’s Ted talk?!”
Me: “What did you just say?!?”
Eddy: “Just watch this….”

 

Meet Aaron Draplin. A crazy hat wearing, beard grooming, design denim god. He’s what we strive to be one day. Just happy to be able to wake up and create art every day. That’s something to get excited about.

  1. He’s genuine (I mean he wore a hat and swore in a Ted talk, haha!).

  2. He does not care about awards (they just inflate ego).

  3. He’s incredibly excited to be able to do his art every day.

1. He’s genuine

He cares. He cares so much about his audience he wants to show them how to be original. When someone swears in front of your it’s a sign of respect, they’re comfortable enough to be themselves. When Aaron takes to the stage you instantly realize this isn’t going to be your regular speech. His outfit makes him look comfortable as well, jean jacket, trucker hat? He’s making it okay to be yourself.

2. He does not care about awards

In the marketing/advertising world it’s hard to get very far without finding out about “an award you could win!” or better yet “you should apply for this award!”. Apply for an award?!? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?!? Yet it happens all the time. Agencies attach “awards” they’ve won to proposals not knowing that clients want to hire them to create value for their organization, not simply win awards.

Winning awards can send you down a dangerous path. Always striving for the next award. What there is no more? You can’t control that outcome hence why this author thinks it’s very silly to focus on winning awards.

Finally Aaron doesn’t need an award to make him feel good, he just needs to look at the team he works with and the amazing volume of work they’ve created, and smile.

Awards are a false idol you’re seeking. Their poisonous, they change people, once you are an “award winner” you’re never the same. Stay hungry, stay thirsty.

3. He’s incredibly excited to able to do his Art every day

When I met Hugh MacLeod for the first time I asked which of his cards he created was his favourite. He said he had a lot he really liked but one always came to mind.

“If you have your health and you can make a decent living doing what you love, then you have little reason to envy other people.” -Hugh MacLeod

If you have your health and you get to do what your love

The way Aaron looks when he talks about being “able” to do his art every day. That’s incredible. That’s what I want to become.

You don't have to win awards to be fricken amazing-strategy lab

whens the last time you bought something from a salesperson that you weren’t in the market for

If you want donations to your cause don’t ask for money 

If you want me to buy something the last way to do that is by trying to sell it to me. What you need to do is pitch me your why. 

I still remember the Tweet. It was from Kayla Kozan, she said “Someone trying to sell you a watch is probably a watch sales-person.” Meaning, if someone is trying to get you to buy something you should simply say no because they obviously have an interest in you buying it from them.

How do you sell in a world where Vacuum Cleaner sales people no longer exist? 

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If Vacuum Cleaner Sales People No Longer Exist How The Hell Do They Sell Vacuums

If Vacuum Cleaner Sales People No Longer Exist How The Hell Do They Sell Vacuums?

Ask Dyson or Roomba.

You don’t sell by selling anymore, you sell by doing something different.

Different enough to get someone to talk about you. That’s it. Not different to be goofy, no, different to be top-of-mind in your market space. That spot is left to the most innovative companies in the world, and you can do it too.

Vacuum cleaner sales people no longer exist. At one time what a great profession! Think about it, you choose your own hours, you get exercise while working, you get to meet new people all the time and you choose how much money to make. Based on the amount of hours you put in, you can make a lot in a very little amount of time.

You can see why many people went into this profession, good wages, fun work, what more could you ask for. The better you could manipulate sell people on a vacuum, the more money you were to make. The problem is that way of thinking doesn’t work anymore.

i am the future

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iphones-personality - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

FREE downloadable smartphone wallpapers to give your phone some personality!

Ladies and Gentleman Edwardo Alvaro has done it again.

Whether it’s “Pizza is my Bae” stickers or inspiring cartoon posters, Eddy sure does not disappoint. These free downloadable smartphone wallpapers can show people how you feel without even telling them! Imagine that!

Lost your voice at the Lot club last night but what to let your friend know you’re feeling happy? Send em a screen shot!

Cute! - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Happy)

Happy - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Freakin’ Excited!!!)

 Mad - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Rather Perturbed)

Sad - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Lazy and Upset)

Silly - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Just ate a sour souther)

Tired - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

(Just got bad feedback from a client)

iphones-personality - Downloadable smartphone wallpaper

What emotions should Eddy make next?

If we pick yours and Eddy makes it, Jeph owes you a lottery ticket!

chews-me-alex-painter

The Best Resume Ever

you-can-either-fit-in-or-stand-out-not-both

“You can either fit in or stand out but you can’t do both.”       -Seth Godin

Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you Alex Painter. I met Alex years ago on a Realtor competition. He wore a bowtie then and he still wears a bowtie.

Yes he IS Gumin’ At You!

Gumin' at you!

Alex is a different character, he’s creative, well spoken and generally the type of guy you want to be around. Alex was moving to Banff and wanted a job in the hospitality industry, but not just any job, an awesome job. Thinking there would be a lot of competition for jobs in Banff, Alex wasn’t going to make a resume like a shmuck, Alex needed to show potential employers who he really was. He needed to show them he was “Gumin’ at them!”.

He’ll tell you the idea came from a friends Dad who was trying to help him standout amongst all the other boring job applications.

chews-me-alex-painter

“Chews Me!” it reads along with Alex’s contact information and a picture of himself. If you cut open the pack, his references are on the inside. To cap it all off included is actual spearmint gum*(see the comment section for the type of gum).

cut-here-for-references

Off to Banff he went with several packs of “Chews Me” gum in tow.

How brilliant!!!

So the real question is did it work?

You better believe it. Of the first three places he dropped off “gum” at, two places offered him a job on the spot. Wow.

The next time you want a “cool” job, remember how many people are handing out resumes. If you want to standout to a potential employers don’t be afraid to do something that shows who you really are. Alex is a one-of-kind gentlemen who isn’t afraid to push the status quo of resumes and job applications.

In a world where we’re dying for creativity, it’s ideas like this that get talked about and shared. When you risk doing something different, usually you get the reward you were never expecting.

You want to keep people around you who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries on what is possible. You never know what the real benefit is until you try.

 

* – I actually have no idea what kind of gum he used, I assumed it was spearmint but who knows!  See the comment below…

are-you-hiring-strategy-lab

Are You Hiring? // Eps 56 #InTheLab

Are you hiring?the-best-companies-are-always-hiring

I get this question more and more. The answer is always YES! And then the conversation usually goes to, “well can I drop off a resume?”  and my response is always the same, “no”. I don’t want your resume because that’s not an efficient way to tell if you’re going to work well with our team.

I want to know what you bring to the table. What’s your super power? What are you REALLY good at? What could you do endlessly for hours and hours without needing a break? These are the things I need to know.

It also helps being a part of a successful team. Just because if it was a successful team then you know they had to check their ego at the door.

We want team players, we want people willing to learn, people who never say those horrible words “I can’t”, people who don’t give up and people that actually care about something. Those are the people I want to work with.

It was Lorne Schnell in University who told us something I’ll never forget. “The best companies are always hiring, they may not be displaying a help wanted ad but they’re hiring, you just need to make the right pitch.” It’s not verbatim but you get his drift. If you speak in terms of the company you want to work with, what problem can you solve?

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