Posts Tagged ‘sales’

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 26, 2013

Editor’s note:   Now if this doesn’t expand my readership, I don’t know what.  Who doesn’t want to get ahead in life?


How to Get Ahead in Life

Motivational-Poster-7 

Where I work we sell copiers.  It’s a large place – we do a large business, with a big sign on top – and almost no walk-in customers.  In fact, people rarely call us up to inquire about a copier.  Now and then, someone new with very small needs, will inquire via the internet.  But basically, no matter how prominent your dealership is, or how big your sign, in order to sell a copier you have to go find a prospect and meet with them.  Our equipment costs a lot, and has proven to be quite popular.  But it doesn’t sell itself.  This is the first rule of advancement in life: Nothing sells itself.  Somebody has to tell somebody else about it.  You want something?  You have to tell someone that.  You have to ask people to do something, if only, “look at my stuff.”  Nothing sells itself. 

 My-Name-is-Bob

Then, whether selling myself or a copier, someone has to buy.  And to get that person to buy, you have to go to them.  They rarely come to you, which means that to get ahead in life you’re probably going to have to travel.  Bob Dylan didn’t stay in Hibbing, Minnesota.   Bob Dylan had to get to New York where they were buying what he was producing.  If you have an exclusive product to offer, statistically it just makes sense that whoever needs it will be somewhere else than right across the street, especially in Hibbing.  You’re going to have to travel.  Maybe you’re lucky, and your prospect is just downtown.

 

When I visited New York City some years ago, what surprised me was how small some of the famous spots were.  Greenwich Village was truly ‘village’ sized.  Little Italy was, indeed, ‘little’.  And yet these spots marked the ground zeroes from where numbers of artistic movements and cultural icons have originated.  This (plus some reading I have done) causes me to state another truth which is, that the leading creative activity happens within a fairly small radius; within a very small clan.  There are companies who employ large numbers of people, most of whom use our copiers.  But it is a very small number of people who actually determine whether it is our copier they will purchase.  Decisions about your future are made by a very small clutch of people who live and work and pass their time within a very small radius.  And you have to find them and get in with them if you want to become a part of it all; if you want to get close enough to grab the gold ring.

Have-a-Plan

As Woody Allen noted, “eighty percent of life is showing up”.  He meant that you had to have the work done and ready to go.  But it also means, that you are there where the work is done.  So if you’re a musician and you’re in the recording studio, even if you’re not employed as a musician, you’re ready in case they need another horn, or if they are trying to think of a musician to call.  As noted above, you’re within the radius.   Kris Kristofferson started emptying ashtrays and sweeping up at Columbia Studios in Nashville.   When you ‘show up’ there is the possibility of something happening.   You want to date that special girl?  You first concern is to be nearby, to give her the sense that you’re already somebody within her community, who she might speak with, who she has ‘seen around’.   Show up.  Be there!

 

All of this advice will work whether you wish to get ahead in a big way, or just in the smaller way of the day to day, especially this last trick:  Be of help.  You want something from someone, be it recognition, attention, respect or whatever – being of help is an excellent way to start.  First, it’s a nice thing to do.  And second, it markets to the person’s needs.

 

Wherever a person needs help is a place where that person is a prospect.  And if you fill that need, there’s a good chance they’ll make a little purchase.  And this works with anyone whether it be a wife or a child or a boss or even someone you don’t know as yet.   You want to gain your wife’s attention?  Do something she needs doing on a regular basis.  You want to make sure your son obeys?  Help him to do something he’s interested in but doesn’t know a lot about.  They will come to rely on you.  And people recognize and respect the persons who they need and depend upon.  So be of help.  Help to advance someone else and they may advance you.

 

(One caveat here:   A little discrimination is in order here.  Be sure that person stands within a circle you would like to share.   They might be in a circle you are trying to get out of…!   Screen your prospects.   Otherwise, you might not feel better.  Not screening their prospects is how ‘nice guys finish last’.    ‘Caveat helpor’: Let the helper beware.)

Motivational-Poster-9

Motivational Posters by Carl Nelson and available at:  http://www.imagekind.com/artists/carlnelson/MotivationalPosters/fine-art-prints

 

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From the Editor’s Perch…

June 24, 2012

Selling Art

Creativity and Sales

Posture is Everything

SELLING

Selling is a great teacher.  And one thing selling has taught me is that in order for people to part with their money, they have to feel certain.  People must feel certain that what you are offering is what they need.  And people must feel certain that you can provide what you are offering.  After that, you are dickering over cost.

Of course, each of these factors bleed into one another.  But, what they all have in common is this feeling of certainty

This presents problems for the marketing of Art.  Because Art is full of questionables, imponderables, unnamables, inscrutables, immeasurables, unfathomables… the list is long.  But all have one thing in common: ‘uncertainty’. 

Now whether people are buying something or giving money away, they still want this sense of certainty that their assets are not being wasted.  So how does one go about selling Art?

Well, the only thing more uncertain than Art might be people.  And traditionally people are sold by dressing them up in certainties.  You dress successful; you act successful; you speak successful; you move successful; you associate with success – you appear successful… and you stand your best chance of being purchased successfully, because you have made people most certain of your success.

Art is sold in much the same way.  What is absolutely undefinable, unfathomable and inscrutable is dressed up in the certainties.  Let’s see how this applies to the theater.

Your average regional theater purchases successful produced plays to present; it uses successful authors; it hires successful directors and actors and set, sound and lighting people.  Its productions take place in up to date venues located in the better part of town.  It struggles to become the most prominent (successful) theater in town.  The more successful the theater appears, the more money it is given.  And the more money it has, the less risk it can afford to take.  Because, the rule is, you only spend your money with certainty.

CREATIVITY

The creative artist creates.  They are not re-iterative.  They lack production tools, marketing brio…  Everything is a prototype.  Nothing goes into production.  Once something has been produced, then the artist’s job is done. 

The creative artist tends to spurn the trappings of success, because trappings are hindering, because they are already known quantities, because they are certain.   The artist’s job is to pursue what is uncertain, ineffable, unknowable and caste it in the certain.  For example, we cannot wholly know a person – but we can write their speech.  We can record how they act.  We can illuminate and give insight.  We can create the feeling of certainty.  “They feel so real,” an observer might say, or even, “I knew that person.”  From immanence (pagan) or transcendence (Judeo-Christian), but more likely from some of both such certainties are sculpted.  The creative artist sculpts certainty from risk.  And because money is shy of risk; money necessarily skirts the creative.  It is a very great artist indeed who can create the certain as a naked thing, and just walk them out of the sea.  Even the best often must dress them in some fashionable garb or another.

So, okay.  I’ll cut right to the chase and say, yes, money is good for Selling; but it’s bad for Creativity.  So the next time your hear your local Arts organizations lamenting the fact of there being no money out there for the Arts…  just think:  Maybe bad for them, but good for us!

Photo by Carl Nelson

NEW PLAYS

March 9, 2012

SAVING HARRY

“Harry Coombs, sixty, and the top copier salesman in his metropolitan area, has suffered a right side stroke. In order to hang on to his job in a rough, competitive business he hires Claude Gustafson, airy poet, and son of an old war buddy to assist him. Claude has had experience cold-calling for his wife Mary, who was a successful copier saleswoman, prior to her pregnancy. Harry is forced into the role of mentor and Claude is forced more and more into the full-time role of copier salesman as both struggle to keep their livelihoods and lives, on track.”

To read the first 10 pages of manuscript, click on, SAVING HARRY, under “Pages” on the right.  – Editor

From the Editor’s Perch…

September 25, 2011

The Camera Follows a Thai Boy on a River Ferry

Cinema: Where Quiet Shows Its Muscle

Some years ago I attended a retirement party for a friend of ours where I was seated around one of a number of large round tables.  Partway through the proceedings, I happened to think of something and made a joke of it to the woman sitting next to me.  It got me a small laugh.  What was remarkable was that in the next moment, the fellow directly across from me (who was a loud and hale sales type) repeated the same witticism to loud and generous laughter all around the table.  Then he gave me a look.  I don’t know whether it was because he was curious as to why I didn’t laugh at ‘his’ joke; or because he had just taught me a lesson. 

For most of the years I wrote for the theater as a playwright one question most bothered me.  It seemed that the same people who claimed the stage in life, where also the characters to claim the stage in the theater.  I struggled to find a way to write about people and situations which weren’t always ‘selling’ themselves.  What was the point, I thought, in allowing the same characters who dominate us in society to dominate us under the footlights – all over again?

I studied sales, and I sold.  I studied plays, and I wrote plays.  I studied actors, and I tried a little acting…  I even toyed with the notion of starting my own troupe called, The Quiet Theater.  Whose purpose would be to promote the quiet moment, onstage.   I imagined holding festivals and giving our a prize for creating the longest, sustained quiet onstage in a successful performance.  I kept at this for quite some time – not because I had any success – but because I couldn’t think of anywhere else to turn.  Until finally I’d decided that the role of art is to celebrate life, and like it or not, this was the life that the theater celebrated.

Then I decided to try my hand at directing short films and almost immediately realized the opportunity to depict quiet.  Because, in film, the audience’s attention is placed wherever the director chooses to place it.  And, if the director should choose to ignore the loud fellow stage front… or across the table…  Well, that loud fellow can bellow all he wants, but the audience is going to watch whatever the camera has been directed to follow.  And they will hear whatever the audio speakers most want them to hear.  Whether, or not, the film will proceed to hold their attention is another problem.  But it occurred to me that cinema is where the quiet finally shows its muscle.  And perhaps in this frenetic, sales-driven age, this accounts a bit for cinemas increasing popularity at a time when the theater is fast losing its audience.  We all crave quiet – and it’s more than heavenly to be entertained by it.

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

August 6, 2011
I’ve Sweated This Out

 

Look at That Space Above Your Sofa!

“Every time your Editor posts a note the readership drops off.  So I’ve waited until we’re safely into the double digits before tilting these words at my latest windmill…

It has always seemed to me that one of the reasons for Art, is that it makes that space on the wall above our sofas look more interesting.  No harm.  The reverse of this, however, is that if you do purchase a work of Art to hang above your sofa – you do so because you would rather look at that Art than at a blank wall.

Which brings me to a criticism of actors which I make after directing on several occasions for the local stage.  Contemporary actors often seem to feel that if their acting embodies their character, then they have done their job.  But consider this for a minute in light of what I’ve said above:  The wall above your sofa perfectly embodies that wall.  A brick embodies a brick; a stone a stone…  The list, of course, is infinite.  Everybody you will pass on the street downtown perfectly embodies themselves.  Is everybody on the street interesting to watch?  Or are they interesting enough to PAY to watch?  …you’re right to keep a tight grip on your wallet.

A common feeling in the acting community is that ‘since I am good at what I do, I should be paid for it’.  The Producer’s reply to this demand is, “When you make me money, I will pay you money.”   This attitude among actors is a prime reason that so many fairly good shorts and films that get produced locally go nowhere – to the frustration of all involved.  The actors all feel they’ve done their job.  But by the producers benchmark they have failed.  And I think they fail because the actors have not recognized that they are in sales.  It is not enough to be a character; you have to SELL that character.  When you’ve sold your character, the person in the audience says to themselves, “I’m with THEM.”  That’s a fan, and that’s a paying customer. 

In most local films, I’ve seen very few actors who are willing to sell.  And when there is one who does, the character is so often so peripheral that there is no place for the audience to follow them to.  This common artistic mentality on the part of local actors seems to be the same with failed salespersons everywhere:  “ I showed up.  I worked hard.  I presented the product very professionally and credibly to lots of people.”  These hopeful ‘salespeople’ never realize that they weren’t selling; they were having conversations.  Selling is making people act.  Selling is making people want to DO something.  Selling is WANTING and ASKING and CLOSING.

I recently saw the film, “Aliens and Cowboys” (or “Cowboys and Aliens” – one or the other?).  In the first portion of the movie I was surprised that Daniel Craig struck me as the better actor, and that Harrison Ford seemed to measure up short by comparison.  He just didn’t quite feel right in his character.  Daniel Craig is so strongly carved as to feel almost feral, and he certainly was riveting to watch as the tough, violent, lone Westerner.  But in the latter half of the movie, as soon as Harrison Ford softened and produced his famous wizened, half-smile – my immediate reaction was, “I’m with him.”  Harrison Ford knows how to sell himself (and his characters).  There is a reason for his box office success.”  – Editor

Photo by Anonymous


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