The Difference Between Being a Salesman and Creating a Selling Relationship

The Difference Between Being a Salesman and Creating a Selling Relationship

Sell me the car I want!

Sell me the car I want!


Right now I’m doing a lot of driving between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs while we try and sell our house and move as part of my new position as Operations Manager at Book Center of the Rockies. This commute really requires a small, gas-sipping vehicle while for several months I’ve been driving the miracle minivan with over 300,000 miles. I don’t know why it hasn’t pulled out a gun and shot itself yet but last week it gave me a warning and so I started looking for a new (used) vehicle. Go to our website and get casino bonus ohne einzahlung 2021. Hurry up to go and start winning.

I sent email to two car dealers in Colorado Springs with very specific requirements. One on the south end of town sent me a list of vehicles that were the right make but all over the maximum price I was willing to pay. If you haven’t shopped at a car dealer before, this is a common tactic to see if you really meant the top price you said. I wrote back and told them that they didn’t actually read my email since none of the cars matched. That dealer never wrote back.

The second dealer, after I specifically said in an on-line chat to just send me links to cars that met my criteria and not to call me, called me at work to ask when I could come down to take a look. I told the sales lady that I had specifically asked for links only and reiterated my criteria. That afternoon I received an email with about ten links and another request for a time when I was going to come by the showroom. Of the ten vehicles, only ONE was even the correct manufacturer. I wrote back explaining that they hadn’t read my email.

The next day I received another email from a different sales rep containing…. the. exact. SAME. LIST. OF. VEHICLES. I had rejected the day before and a request to call with a time to come in. I wrote back and told her that she obviously had no interest in selling me what I wanted and to quit contacting me.

Today I received a perky email from a manager at the same dealership asking how my shopping was going. Obviously, she hadn’t bothered to check with here sales team first. I actually doubt the email was sent by a real person. I would bet money that it is just an automatic email that goes out if you respond to one of their sales reps.

It’s been so long since I’ve purchased a vehicle from a dealer (a bad experience then, too) that I hoped that these stupid tactics would have been abandoned for something REAL. I’m talking about a sales rep that asks questions and wants to know exactly what you want and why instead of focusing on getting you on the lot to sell you something you don’t need. Have these people read any sales and marketing books written in the last ten years?!

I honestly believe that selling these days is more about finding what your customer really needs and satisfying that. Once you do, you’ve earned loyalty because you listened to your customer.

So here’s your homework for the week. For the next business week, every time you have a customer come into your store, instead of asking “Can I help you?” Which typically results in a “No”, ask “What can I help you find?” It will at least make the customer pause since he has to come up with a full sentence response. If he doesn’t give you a specific product, ask at least two questions to better figure out what he is looking for. Remember, the goal here is to find the customer what he really needs / wants, not to sell him something. In some cases you may have to honestly say that you don’t have what he is looking for. Even then, if you can point him in the right direction, you have earned trust and that is something worth far more than the $4 you would make on that book you didn’t sell him.

[Image created by suphakit73 at]

I’m Glad Business is so Good You can’t Talk to Me


Bad mechanicI am in the market for a new(er) vehicle. My 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager is a magical vehicle typically whispered about in the same breath as Bonny Prince Charley’s imminent return to Scotland.

When we bought the van it had 76,000 miles. It has been serving as the Aquinas and More company vehicle since our family grew into our 12-passenger van many years ago. During that time it has hauled bricks, kids, product displays, trailers, computers, kids, dry wall, paint, did I mention kids? Now the van has 315,000 miles. It is still running on its first engine and first transmission. But on the way home from Mass last week I heard a “clunk” and suddenly the van wouldn’t get out of second gear. It was a long drive home at forty miles-an-hour. Since then the van has been working as well as any vehicle that has traveled as far as the moon and started on the return voyage. However, it was clear that the van was letting me know its time was coming.

So, for the first time in seven years, I’m looking for a car. Preferably something that gets good gas mileage and is inexpensive. I found two vehicles that looked promising and called two different mobile auto mechanics in Denver to see how much they would charge to inspect the cars. The first I contacted through an on-line quote form on Monday evening. The second I called on Tuesday and left a message.

It is now Thursday night and neither has bothered to call me back – not even to tell me they aren’t interested. Is this how your customers see you? Honestly, it is how our customers have seen us lately. We don’t currently have live phone support so it sometimes takes us a day and a half to get back to everyone. Definitely not an ideal situation and I know it has cost us business. We are finally in the position to correct that and will shortly be bringing back live phone support.

Don’t be like this. If you don’t want the business, don’t have a quote form on your website or voice mail that actually takes messages. Tomorrow I’ll be trying company number three and hoping for better success.

Image courtesy of supakitmod /

These Aren’t New Year’s Resolutions


2014 Resolutions

I can’t remember ever making New Year’s resolutions. I see the rationale – the end of the year is a great mental time to start anew. This year with the major changes at Aquinas and More and an upcoming move to a new town for our family, I’ve been making changes throughout the year to get my life and business in better order. Here’s what I’ve been working on:

  1. Getting more done. With ten kids, a full time job and Aquinas and More, my to-do list was a collection of sticky notes, a paper notebook (or two, since I frequently would set it down somewhere and forget), Outlook reminders and my leaky mind. This really wasn’t sustainable and I constantly felt like I was buried in obligations that were so numerous I couldn’t prioritize. Through Michael Hyatt’s podcast I found Nozbe – a simple-to-use to-do list app, website and desktop application. The interface is simple and it syncs across all your devices. You can email and tweet tasks to it and it integrates with Evernote. I had tried several other to-do list apps but for some reason this one just seems to work more smoothly. Oh, you can also create projects and share lists with other users so you can both work on a list at the same time!Nozbe
  2. Read the Bible. I’ve read parts of the Bible but never really committed to regular reading or to any kind of plan. My oldest daughter is going to be doing the Understanding the Scriptures course for school starting next month and my younger kids are reading the Children’s Golden Bible. Last year I did a podcast with the folks at Logos Bible software about their new Catholic product, Verbum. They gave me a basic edition to review and it has an Android app which follows the daily Lectionary readings. I’m going to start with that and help my daughter with her scripture study class.Verbum Catholic Bible Study
  3. Organize my paper.I have a file cabinet with labeled folders and I do a reasonable job making sure that everything gets filed regularly. My problem is all the other things I need to keep track of – that great idea I heard on a podcast, the melody I need to learn for the Thanksgiving talent show (We sang Gaudete this year), all of the notes I take about procedures and processes at the warehouse, ideas for blog posts. There is a lot of information that I need to keep track of and I have found that paper notebooks are great for holding data but lousy for finding it later. A couple of years ago I got an Evernote account to keep track of photos and comments I had about potential locations to move our store. It was simple to use but I didn’t really “get it”. After having read a few books with different ideas on how to organize it as well as some podcasts, I think I see how I can really take advantage of this digital notebook. I’m not planning on going paperless anytime soon, but this is a good start towards better organization.Evernote
  4. Go on a pilgrimage. Before Thanksgiving my wife made an incredibly bold proposal. She suggested going on the pilgrimage to Chartres for our twentieth wedding anniversary. I was blown away. This isn’t something that we can just hop on a plane and do, it is going to require serious planning as well as a commitment to really getting into shape. The pilgrimage is a three day, seventy-five mile hike from Notre Dame in Paris to Notre Dame in Charte culminating in a high Mass at the cathedral. The pilgrimage covers roads, fields and trails and frequently involves rain. If you want to follow my wife’s chronicle of our preparations, she is at Kittle Eleison. We each bought running shoes for each other for Christmas and my parents bought us hiking poles. If anyone wants to watch ten kids for a couple of weeks while we’re gone, let us know!Chartres Pilgrimage
  5. Start learning more about things I like. I’ve attended several of the CNMC events and even had a podcast for a while (which will be coming back next year) but I never really got into listening to podcasts as a regular thing. I’ve had a two-and-a-half hour drive to work several times a week since April and between talk radio itself and the commercials, listening to the radio was getting very tedious. I finally found a decent podcast app for Android – Doubletwist. It has some quirks in the interface but it syncs non-podcast media such as music and audio books with my laptop and wasn’t very expensive. I first started listening to The Catholics Next Doorwith Greg and Jennifer Willits. They have an engaging show and even though they occasionally Georgia the pronunciation of words like “Guadete” and “Estes Park”, I was able to get past that and I’ve actually listened to every episode. I also enjoyed listening to Catholic Stuff You Should Know. Unfortunately, they are taking a break for several months to finish up seminary. Apart from the Catholic podcasts I’ve found, there are several other life and business podcasts that I enjoy listening to. Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life and Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcast Answerman are both great. If you have a lot of driving time, I definitely encourage you to find something other than the radio to listen to. Whether it’s podcasts or something from the Great Courses collection, it’s a far better use of your time. I’m also planning on attending the Modex 2014 Supply Chain expo to increase my knowledge of warehouse management. A lot of you probably have your eyes glaze over at the thought of seeing exhibits showing the latest in storage and order processing but I love this stuff! I might also attend the Catholic New Media Conference and am really considering going to the SCORRE conferencenext year.The Catholics Next Door
  6. Set goals – and plan to make them. Setting goals is very easy, it’s the reaching them that is hard. Several months ago I downloaded the Life Plan workbook from Michael Hyatt’s siteand then forgot about it. A few weeks ago he offered a 5-day program to get goals together for the coming year. I signed up for it as I was having a hard time figuring out how best to attack several of the things I wanted to do next year. It was worth the cost. Apart from having a step-by-step approach to not only planning ahead but taking a hard look at what was behind, the community of participants has a lot of great ideas.Best Year Ever


What did you do this year to improve your life? Not necessarily New Year’s related.


2014 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Catholic Publishers’ Blogs – Where are they?


I’ve recently started using a blog feed service called Feedly (more about that in another post) to organize and keep tabs on all the blogs I like to read. One of the things I decided to do was visit all the publisher websites I could to get links to their blog feeds. After visiting nearly twenty publishers’ websites I was only able to find four blogs, two of which aren’t directly related to the published titles. I was really pretty surprised. Many have Facebook and Twitter accounts which I’m going to spend some time reviewing in a future post but when it comes to actual “meat” about what they do, publishers are very quiet.

Ignatius Press has really been at the forefront of digital technology among Catholic publishers for a long time. I think they were the first Catholic publisher to sell e-books, they have been blogging at Ignatius Insight for nine years and have done a great job of mixing posts about Catholic current events with product promotion through book quotes and author posts.

Very nice website and content

Very nice website and content

Image Books has been blogging since the relaunch of the imprint two years ago. They keep their posts more tightly focused on topics related to their titles but still have a lot of interesting material. An odd thing about their blog is that there isn’t any way to browse the archive or browse by categories or topics. Still, the site is one of the best Catholic publisher sites I’ve seen. Apart from a simply beautiful design, they have more material from their books than any other Catholic publisher – excerpts, videos and reading guides.

Liguori has a blog written by Fr. Don, a Redemptorist priest, at Kinda Catholic. The blog has interesting content and a regular Q&A column but, strangely, has almost no references to the fact that this is a Liguori blog. I don’t understand why Liguori doesn’t do more to promote their titles on the blog, even with book covers in the sidebar.

Liturgical Press blogs at Pray Tell. Their blog primarily stays on the topic liturgy and they post reviews of their books, even ones that aren’t the most flattering.

Apart from that, I wasn’t able to find another Catholic publisher with a blog. Have you seen any? I’d love to highlight them if they exist.

Interview with Jon at Word on Fire


Word on Fire is the new apostolate started by Father Baron. The first product from this new effort was the Catholicism series which has been broadcast on PBS and EWTN. Jon talks to us about how to program started and what is part of the program.

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Interview with Influence Resources


Influence Resources is an Imprint from the Assemblies of God. This imprint is just over a year old so I thought it would be interesting to interview a publisher that was getting started right as the digital revolution started to take hold.

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Interview with Johanna at Image Books.


At the International Christian Retail Show we were fortunate to get an interview with the director of marketing for Image Books. Image has been around since the fifties but for a long time was a very neglected brand at Random House. That changed a year ago when the imprint was designated as the imprint for all Random House Catholic titles. The first book released after the reorganization was Catholicism by Father Baron.

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Talks, Interviews and Ducks at the ICRS


So today was the second full day of the International Christian Retail Show. Our morning presentation was on why retail stores need to have an Internet presence. If you think your store doesn’t need a website you aren’t facing reality.

After my talk Zondervan hosted a delicious lunch and several of their reps sat with the attendees and talked about the industry and what Catholic stores are looking for. I think they were trying to learn more about the Catholic market than anything else.

We also met a couple that is on fire with a vision for a new Catholic store that they want to start in Dallas. They’re young and I think they could pull off something really wonderful down there.

Today I spent some time wandering the show floor so I put together a few clips of some of the displays.

After lunch I did several interviews with vendors. My first one was with Influence Resources. They are an official publishing imprint of the Assemblies of God that only started two years ago.

Next I interviewed Johanna Inwood who is the director of marketing for the revitalized Image Books imprint from Random House.

I had already missed the march of the ducks at the hotel twice in the evenings so was determined to be there for it this time. I took a video of the tradition but the video clearly shows that I could never get a job as a paparazzi.

Since the 1930’s when a drunk general manager and friend returned from a hunting trip and thought putting live ducks into the Peabody fountain was a good idea, the hotels have had daily processions of ducks to the main fountain every morning and evening.

After the duck march I headed over to the Siam Thai restaurant to meet the Mike and Michelle from Catholic Word for dinner.

Dinner at the Siam Thai Restaurant


The International Christian Retail Show (Day 3)


This was really the first day of the show and even though I got here two days early, the staff of the Christian Booksellers Association had already been here for a week getting everything ready. The fixtures for the show are huge and they actually drive them out in a semi. I’m sure that some of you are saying “What else would they do, ship them Fedex?” Okay, but I never gave it any thought before.

(Half of) the entrance to the ICRS exhibit floor

At the ribbon cutting ceremony they had an opening prayer by one of the board members and then a short performance by the Irish Band Rend Collective Experiment. Here’s a video of one of their songs at the ribbon cutting:

Executive Director Curtis Riskey welcoming everyone to the show

Chairman George Thomson cutting the ribbon

At the ribbon cutting Curtis Riskey said that the attendees had raised several thousand dollars for a local charity that helps poor children. They also purchased material to fill 300 backpacks with school supplies for the kids. They asked the attendees to take time during the show to fill backpacks.

Backpack project for Orlando Children’s Church

The show floor looked better once the setup was finished.

ICRS Show Floor – this is actually a smaller exhibit area then in the past

The non-Catholic market has been ahead of the Catholic market technologically for a very long time. It’s probably because the Protestants are still sore about the Catholics publishing an English New Testament (The Rheims version in 1582) 19 years before the King James version was completed. They decided that the Catholics would never beat them again. Proof? This conference actually has an app and a QR code for download.

ICRS App – Catholics will follow suite in about ten years

I wandered the show floor for about an hour which let me see about one-third of the exhibit. Even though this show is smaller than some past ones, it still is a huge show. A couple of things I saw on the show floor caught my attention. First, was a solar-powered audio Bible.

The Solar Audio Bible, for those times when you are trapped on a desert island.

The other thing I saw was something I had first seen at the same show in Denver several years ago. I really had hoped it had died off but I guess it is actually gaining traction. I present to you…the host shooter.

Host shooters - now in three colors!

Host shooters – now in three colors!

This is actually a plastic, gold or silver plated dispenser for hosts for those who are paranoid about spreading germs. You hold it like a salad shooter, pull the handle on the back and it dispenses a host out of the bottom. When I first saw these four years ago I thought that they needed to be in a vampire movie where our heroes would use them to take down vampires that were invading their church. The company also sells hosts that are infused with wine to make receiving communion even more efficient.

In the afternoon I gave my first presentation:

The feedback was good both from the Catholic and non-Catholic stores that attended. We even had a store from Nigeria attending.

For dinner Johanna, the head of Image books, treated me to dinner at Capriccio’s, the hotel restaurant which serves very good steak. I’ll be interviewing her today about the return of Image Books and plans they have going forward.

Final thing for the day. The bathroom mirror has a strange light ring in it:

The weird thing about this is that when you look in the mirror you end up looking like this:


I’m at the International Christian Retail Show (Day 2)

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After spending a good part of yesterday walking through empty conference buildings, today went much better. I was able haul my display across the street to the conference center and get it set up in our room. I’ll be sharing the space with reps from Zondervan, Catholic Word and Image Books.

Our Booth

I’m a sucker for tech gadgets but somehow have avoided upgrading my Blackberry to something cool for several years. At this conference I saw a great invention that should be appreciated by anyone who has to do data entry of contacts after trade shows. Leadkey produces a barcode scanner the size of a USB stick that an exhibitor uses to scan the barcodes on attendees’ name tags and then automatically uploads all the data to a database that the user can download as a spreadsheet or pdf. Very cool.


While this LeadKey is a cool new piece of technology, this picture is a tribute to old tech:

Any idea what this was?

I was able to get our booth set up and then went down to the main show floor to see how setup was going there. This place is huge and some of the vendors must spend thousands of dollars on their booths. Not to mention how much it must cost to ship them and set them up.

ICRS Show Floor During Setup

ICRS Show Floor


Outside the conference center are these neat bus stop stations. They remind me of the organic subway stops in Paris and Denver.

Orlando Bus Stop

In the evening I went to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of the Universe. The church is a classicbasilicastyle with gorgeous stained glass windows and oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross.

On my way back from Mass I saw a sign for the Passage to India Restaurant in a strip mall and decided to take a chance. It turns out the the restaurant is a local legend that has been written up in Zagat and has received several other awards for its food. My waiter had an Irish accent but didn’t seem to understand me when I told him I liked spicy food. The dinner was good but I’m not for “mild” food.

Dinner at Passage to India Restaurant


More tomorrow!