From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 02/05/2013 P.110
Selling has become a dirty word as every home receives more junk mail, more cold calls, and more spam in their email inbox. Many years ago the salesman was a well received friendly person in the family home. I remember being a very young boy and watching, as my father would greet the insurance man by first name and invite him in for a tea and a biscuit. My father would give the same warm welcome to the sales person that we bought the encyclopedias from. Times have changed. And it sure is a tough job to be a sales man going door to door. People are now receiving offers from every possible outlet that they tune it to. You have junk mail in the letterbox. You get spam when you go to check your email and with so many companies looking to ring your doorbell I think there is little chance of tea and biscuits. Yesterday I got my fair share of people and companies wanting me to know what they have to offer. Between the early hours of 7 and 8 I received 5 different pieces of mail through the letterbox. I thought on each occasion ‘great, the postman has arrived, let’s see if he has anything special for me!’ It wasn’t to be. Out of the five items of mail that I received not one was addressed for me. Holding back the tears I looked at each one. A leaflet from a supermarket, another from a hairdresser, two food takeaways and finally a hand written note from a young neighbour offering to cut my grass, to, which I was very impressed and took up his offer! At lunchtime, the doorbell rang when I happened to be at home sampling the wonderful baking of my wife’s homemade brown bread, which I topped up with some tasty avocado & beetroot. I answered the door to find a well-dressed and smiling sales representative asking me to change my utility company. As I was having one of my treasured moments with food and my family I asked the lovely young sales person if they would call back in the evening. They didn’t. That day I received ten spam and subscription emails in my email inbox. These were all companies offering me deals and telling me about the their latest products. I wasn’t too interested. Before the close of day I had received two phone calls from companies whose services I already use offering me different subscription plans. I love business and I always do my best to give some attention to offers that pass by me, but today’s many leaflets, post, emails, doorbell rings and phone calls left me with one question. Why was the grass cutter the only sales approach that got my attention? I believe it was because there was an effort to stand out. This is what businesses and entrepreneurs have to do. The grass cutter’s timing was perfect as the grass is starting to grow. His prices were clearly outlined and were cheap. He is local and stated this. His note started out with the line ‘Today I want to introduce myself. My name is Sam and I cut grass. The note was clear and handwritten, which added a nice personal touch. It was different then all the rest. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to see what every other business is doing and do the opposite. If everybody is printing leaflets, have yours hand written just like Sam. Be distinctive. Maybe it wasn’t Sam’s intention to be different. More so, I believe it was a question of cost, however Sam replaced cost with the value of time and creativity and the result has been good for Sam as my neigbours are now asking me who did I get to cut the grass and if I’d pass them the number! Way to go Sam! In Business it pays to be unique. Call to new prospects, send emails, print and post leaflets, but before you do, just spend a little time on being creative, different , standing out from the noise and sell smart.