This is an internet driven world but every now and again you need to get out from behind your desk and get out there and *gasp* meet people! One way to meet a bunch of people at the same time is to exhibit at a trade show or networking event that allows vendor tables.
If you’ve ever attended on of these events you know it can be difficult to distinguish one vendor from the next when everyone has the same standard issue table (blue tablecloth) and backdrop.
So you want to stand out but fully finished pop-up backdrops can be expensive – $2000 and up. Add that to the cost of renting the booth space and it can make it too prohibitively to exhibit. Here’s how a couple of my clients got around this dilemma.
Native Fields Landscaping were attending their first trade show and didn’t want to break the bank. They worked with dsm-llc and came up with an innovative trade show display that cost them less than $1000 for everything. They made a backdrop from 3 roll-up banners and had a customized tablecloth printed. Very effective! To increase foot traffic to the booth they utilized a life size image of one of their lawnmowers with the head cut-out so attendees could get their photo taken as if riding the mower!
Solutions Fitness of Florham Park were attending a corporate health fair and needed something to distinguish them from their potential competitors. They only had a small space available to them and choose a simple but effective roll-up banner and tablecloth combo to get their message across. Total cost? Less than $350!
Need to make a splash at your next event but can’t afford the whole swimming pool? Please talk to me at dsm-llc and we’ll create a low-cost solution just for you.
Posted by John Tully
…and the great business lesson it taught me.
My last blog post (oh so long ago) retold the story of the best ever sales call I made. With every yin there must be a yang so today I’m relating the worst call I ever made, but one that ended up with a huge business lesson for me.
In my past life as a Technical Sales guy I wore many hats – two I wore happily were Manager of our distributor network and Chief Technical Trainer. On the distributor side I was responsible for visiting the reps on a regular basis and make sales calls with them when appropriate. I spent hundreds of hours driving around Illinois and Texas and Alberta in the passenger seat of the local rep’s car discussing clients, football, politics, anything and everything. As the technical trainer I presented product training to rooms of engineers in Tampa, Houston, Vancouver, wherever I could organize one. Lunch and learn sessions with Texas BBQ were always my favorite.
If the occasion arose where I could combine the two it was a very sweet deals, killing two birds with one stone. Jim, my rep in Houston was very active and he arranged for me to do a training session with one of his customers at an engineering company out in the wilds of Texas. I flew down the 1600 miles from Newark to Houston and drove myself to the hotel on the other side of Houston just off the Katy Freeway. Jim picked me up the next morning on a bright but mild Houston morning. We drove 90 minutes out of Texas to his customer’s facility. So far so good – I was a little frazzled from the travel but nothing I couldn’t cope with. We got to the facility and waited in the lobby.
20 minutes went by and the engineer in question still hadn’t turned up. Jim did some calling around only to find out that the guy had, at the last minute, decided to take the day off to go fishing! I exploded – “Doesn’t he realize I’ve traveled all this way to meet with him and to give him the benefit of all my knowledge?” Jim remained surprisingly calm. These kind of calls just went with the territory – some days you won the battle getting into see people, some days you lost. Getting upset about it didn’t help the situation. I wasn’t convinced but started to calm down myself during the ride back and the obligatory stop for a couple of margaritas.
And twenty years later the lesson of that day still resonates. Despite how wonderful you are and how fantastic your product is and how important it is for you to make your own figures, none of that matters to the client. Their schedule isn’t your schedule. Their priorities aren’t your priorities. A day fishing is always likely to trump a visit from another boring salesman. Getting upset isn’t going to solve anything and taking the rough with the smooth is just the way of things.
What was your worst sales call?
Posted by John Tully
I’ve probably made hundreds of sales call over the years. Some stand out because of the location (the mountains of Puerto Rico, Downtown Vancouver, Bologna in Italy) and some because of the result (signing a $150,000 order with Heinz Ketchup) but the best ever was somewhat unrelated to the final outcome.
In a previous life I sold process equipment to some of the biggest companies in the world; Exxon, Heinz, Nestlé to name three. When the opportunity came to sell something to Miller Brewing it didn’t seem too difficult or too special – but they did ask for someone to sit down with them to discuss the application and installation so I flew to Milwaukee to meet with their engineer. I met up with my contact at the main gates to the brewery and was whisked inside.
As any of my acquaintances will tell you – I LOVE BEER! So the chance to look around any brewery was always welcome but my contact went out of his way to give me the full tour, way beyond the “standard tourist” where he shared with me each step and each piece of equipment. Obviously a man in love with his job!
We eventually made it to his office where we discussed his application in more detail – I had no doubt that it would work and told him so. He said great and gave me the go-ahead right there and then.
That on its own may have made it a pretty good sales call but what happened next was what made it the best ever sales call. My contact asked, “Did I like beer?” Is the Pope Catholic? Of course, I said. He closed the door and opened his own R&D refrigerator and took out a couple of unlabeled bottles. My equipment was going to be used on a new product line for a new beer – Clear Beer! He had some samples – would I like a taste? He poured out the liquid into a glass, it looked just like 7-up but with a head and it tasted…well it tasted just like beer! He was looking for some feedback on taste and looks and I was a willing guinea pig.
Now, Clear Beer was tested in a few markets but never took off, but a couple of years later Zima took off in a big way, not for Miller but for Coors and I always wondered whether the there was a connection between the two events.
So – that’s the one that sticks in my mind as my favorite sales call. What was your favorite? Check back next week for my worst ever sales call but how it led to a very important business lesson.
When I started my own company it was never my intention to work from home forever. I always imagined I’d eventually move into an office of some sort or another, so I’d really get the experience of “going to work”. However the longer I worked from home, the more I enjoyed it and the further away it seemed that I would ever move to an actual office.
Here are my top 4 “pros” of working from home:
- You can’t beat the commute. I can be at my desk 30 seconds after stumbling out of bed if I have a pressing need to do so.
- I can work in pajamas if I want. I’m actually writing this while wearing my Star Trek robe.
- I can work out and do my daily stretches right by my desk. I can get up and move around when I want without worrying about upsetting anyone else’s routine.
- It’s cheap and has definite tax advantages. Although I tapping into my home’s utilities which theoretically should add to my household costs the increases appear minimal and you get to write off a certain amount against your taxes.
But, there are “cons” – here are a few:
- Missing human contact and water cooler time. I spend a lot of time talking to the dog and while she doesn’t talk back she isn’t very constructive either. Sometimes you just need to say “hi” and shoot the breeze for a while.
- I can work in my pajamas if I want. Yes, it’s also a pro but I do wonder whether my work suffers if I’m not in “professional” mode all the time.
- Distractions. If the dog barks when I’m on the phone that’s both distracting and awkward. Honey-do items are both distracting and time consuming – yes, I know I could unclog the toilet but I am supposed to be working!
Need a solution to this? I’d recommend that you explore either a shared office or co-working option.
My friend Jeff Jones operates an “executive office” service that gives you your own small office within a bigger office environment with shared services and costs. Interaction between the office dwellers is both encouraged and enhanced by the environment that Jeff creates. American Office Centers.
I’ve just got involved with a new co-working and collaboration venture called C3 Workplace (the other C is for community). Almost modeled on a Starbucks but without the baristas and other distractions, essentially you work in a big room with other liked minded people. Other facilities available include a kitchen, conference rooms and private offices. Fees are by the hour, day, week or month allowing for maximum flexibility. C3 Workplace.
Let me know if you work from home or from a small office and how it works for you.
Posted by John Tully