Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

The Newton Klotz Story (An amazing sales story & what you can learn)

Posted by Mark Gibson on Mon, Nov 05, 2012

I'm delighted to introduce you to business partner Adam Zais, VP Business Development at professional video hosting and analytics company Wistia, who related this story in a recent conversation and I asked him to write it down.

Actually Adam wrote this one down and quite a few more in a collection of sales stories and what we can learn from them....and we plan to publish them in a book next year.

Introducing Newton Klotz, Electrolux Salesman

One day my Dad calls the local Electrolux store to ask about buying a new hose for his vacuum. The sales guy, Newton Klotz, says, “Sure. I’ve got one of those in my car. About $15. I’ll drive it there in about 15 minutes.” This totally delights my Dad so he says, “Sure, come on over.” 

Conversations, not Presentations

The Klotzmobile shows up at the house as promised. It’s a well-used Oldsmobile Vistacruiser station wagon jammed full of all sorts of parts and new & used vacuums. He rings the doorbell and greets my Dad with the part he wanted to fix the vacuum, but he also has a brand new, top-of-the-line Electrolux as well.

My Dad invites him in and thus begins the amazing stuff I promised you at the beginning. Old Newton is no fool. He knows that my Dad just wanted the new hose...a $15 sale. Not bad, in that selling the new hose is giving the customer exactly what he wants. Good on the karma scale, but not much commission. That only comes with the sale of new vacuums. But instead of launching into a hard sales pitch, our intrepid sales pro starts in on a line of conversation around how the hose wore out, which led to a discussion of lifestyle, kids, home-ownership, sports, you name it. Anything and everything EXCEPT vacuums.

Demonstration and Use of Props

After Newton has established a great deal of rapport with my Dad, he determines it's time to ask permission to do a demonstration.
Newton innocently asks my Dad if he wants to see something really cool and amazing. Sure says Dad. Newton throws a pocketful of dirt on the rug at my Dad’s feet. Holy shit! 

No worries says Newton and he proceeds to vacuum it up with the aforementioned brand-spanking-new, top-of-the-line unit. Dad is suitably (and predictably) impressed. To make a longer story a bit shorter, old Newton departs after my Dad has bought not one, but two new vacuums! One for upstairs and one for downstairs. Oh, and Newton threw in the new hose “just in case”. Total? Over 900 bucks!!!
  • Did Newton pressure my Dad into buying? No.
  • Did Newton manipulate my Dad into buying? Nope.
  • Did Newton wear my Dad down until he bought just to get him out of the house? Not in the slightest.

Lessons Learned

  1. Rapport opens the door to sales conversations.
  2. Seek to understand before opening your mouth about product.
  3. Seek permission to introduce the product and to demonstrate it.
  4. Newton had great interpersonal skills, learned and honed through experience and practice, not by memorizing "closing lines".
  5. Through their conversation, Newton discovered (is learned a better word?) that my Dad really did want two new vacuums. Mind you, I did NOT say that my Dad needed two new vacuums, let alone one. He WANTED them. 
  6. If all Newton did was sell the replacement part, he never would have learned this and made the larger sale. 
  7. If all Newton did was to do the high-pressure sales thing....same result. 
  8. Simply by having a conversation, not a “sales” conversation and not according to some pre-defined “line-of-questioning” put forth by some Sales Process mind you, did all this become possible. 

Connect Emotionally - Learn to Tell Stories
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Topics: sales, qualification, discovery, rapport

Put the Clicker down and Step Away from the Powerpoint Projector

Posted by Mark Gibson on Mon, Oct 03, 2011

Sounds like a line from a familiar TV show, except it would be "put the gun down and step away from the ....."

The best advice I can give to sales professionals whether starting out or with 20 years experience, is to put the clicker down and step away from the PowerPoint projector.

There may be a time toward the end of the sales cycle when the buyer actually wants to see a presentation of your proposed solution... then it's OK to present. If you want to use Powerpoint, then please use the resources for creating engaging PowerPoint presentations....otherwise I recommend that you learn to use a whiteboard to tell your story.


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Topics: discovery, sequence of events, whiteboard selling, whiteboarding

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