What’s more important, quality or quantity?
Whenever someone asked him what Ginsu meant in English, he’d say:
“I never have to work again.”
“I hate to say you’re acting, but sometimes real estate is a bit of a show. When you’re a broker, you’re on stage, and you’ve got to make people like you.” - Pamela Liebman, president Corcoran Group.
A fascinating discussing on the BBC radio show Night Waves, featuring Eli Attie, former speechwriter for Al Gore, writer on The West Wing and writer and co-producer of House.
Listen from around 13.30 and it lasts about 15 minutes.
Entourage’s old school producer, Bob Ryan. Is that something you might be interested in?
Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, made “shapeware” chic, becoming the youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world. Since 2000, her Footless Pantyhose and Power Panties have sold more than 15 million units combined. What makes her a good saleswoman? (I’m drawing mostly here on Alexandra Jacobs’ excellent profile of her in The New Yorker last year.)
- A range of experience. When she founded Spanx, with $5000 in savings, she was working as a door-to-door fax saleswoman and part-time stand-up comic. She’d previously worked as a chipmunk at Walt Disney World.
- Started early. As a kid, she worked as a babysitter and sold tickets to roller-skating parties in her playroom, encouraged by her father who wanted her to learn the value of a dollar.
- A sense of humor. As a comic, she joked about the agonies of growing up flat-chested in a beach town, Clearwater, FL. At the start of her set, she’d throw a couple of push-up bra pads into the audience to disarm them
- Resilience. Driven to become an entrepreneur after twice failing her LSATs
- Saw selling as a means to an end. “I was envisioning a totally different life for myself. I knew I could sell, and I knew I could be self-employed, and I knew if I could come up with something for the masses instead of fax machines, I’d succeed.
- A desire to make the world better. “Where I get my energy is: ‘How can I make it better?’ I’ll ask my brother, ‘If you could wave your wand and make your boxer shorts better, what would you do?
- Urgency. After several close friends died in their early thirties, she developed a sense of urgency. “I don’t want to take any day for granted.” She reads a lot of Wayne Dyer to stay motivated.
- A woman in a man’s business. Pre-Blakely hosiery was dominated by men. But as Blakely’s manufacturer, Larry Small, told Jacobs, she stands out amidst the men: “I’ve always wondered how the heck men are supposed to sell hosiery.”
- Nerve. “Blakely chose the brand’s name partly for what she calls its ‘virgin-whore’ tension,’ and partly for its ‘k’ sound, which has a good track record in both business and comedy. “I used to hold my breath every time I said it out loud…People were so offended they’d hang up on me.”
“Louboutin will hire a salesperson on the basis of personality as much as on that of retail experience. ‘I’m kind of like, deformed,’ he said. ‘I buy the smallest thing, like a stamp, and I’m thinking, This person would be good for the shop.’ Louboutin poached a hostess from an Air France lounge; another time, he hired the bellboy who was assigned to look after him at a hotel in Dubai. Female salespeople offer reassurance; the role of the male salesperson is ‘the ideal flirt’…One day at [Louboutin’s] offices, he wanted to demonstrate the way that a pair of his shoes can extend the line of the leg. He summoned one of his employees and had her step on top of a concrete bench. Louboutin then instructed her to hike up her skirt. ‘It’s all a matter of this going up to here,’ he said tracing a line from foot to hip, up the length of her stocking. ‘I haven’t yet met a woman who told me, ‘I wish I had shorter legs.’”
Augie Turak appears in The Art of the Sale describing the importance of a Zen attitude in selling. It’s a truly powerful, if deceptively simple, idea.