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"But as soon as you need money – and people know – you’re hosed."

Sales-wise, this is where most companies fail. Their salespeople let buyers know they need money. And as soon as buyers sniff you out, they make you their bitch. If you're a salesperson - and everybody should be - you lose.

The trick is to work hard on your attitude until you're ready to walk away from every deal without blinking - even if you really need money. It's really counterintuitive - but winner's attitude works.




I never understood this. I always thought that you'd rather buy from someone who is likely to go out of their way to serve your needs than to buy from someone who simply doesn't care. I know that all other things being equal (I mean, assuming I think both companies can actually deliver, at a similar price point, and that one company isn't going to vanish while I still need them.) that's certainly how I feel, when I buy expensive things.

But then, I've pretty much miserably failed to sell any product (other than my time) that was worth, you know, real money per-customer, so this is likely one of those areas where I'm just weird, and another reason why using myself as a model for generalizing human behavior is a bad idea.

Personally, I focus on selling a whole lot of little things, mostly because I've utterly failed to sell big things, and I've met some success selling lots of little things. Obviously, $10/month is not going to make or break me... and if I spend a lot of time on any one sale, obviously, I'm not going to end up with an acceptable hourly rate, especially as I have some significant marginal costs that come out of that $10 before it can be spent on my salary. But I think it's important, to some extent, to still treat people like customers; yeah, the accountant won't even notice if that customer quits next month. But if more people quit than sign up? or if that customer quits and then loudly complains in public about my bad service?

The customer isn't always right, but dealing with customers you don't want as customers is a delicate art. I'm certain that if I took an insulting attitude towards the customers I didn't want, it'd end badly for me rather quickly. So it seems to me like this issue is... complex. You want to appear to care, but you don't want to appear desperate, and the line between those two, much like the line between confidence and arrogance, can be pretty blurry (at least to someone as socially unskilled as myself.)


I never understood this. I always thought that you'd rather buy from someone who is likely to go out of their way to serve your needs than to buy from someone who simply doesn't care.

I think the biggest factor is trust. If the salesperson desperately needs the sale, it's hard to trust what they say. They're more motivated to make a sale that they can't deliver on because they have no choice.


> I never understood this. I always thought that you'd rather buy from someone who is likely to go out of their way to serve your needs than to buy from someone who simply doesn't care. I know that all other things being equal (I mean, assuming I think both companies can actually deliver, at a similar price point, and that one company isn't going to vanish while I still need them.) that's certainly how I feel, when I buy expensive things.

The idea is the person who's desperate for money is more likely to provide a cheap service, while the person who's not is more likely to provide a top notch service, because he has more respect for himself and would never want to be caught delivering garbage.


>The idea is the person who's desperate for money is more likely to provide a cheap service, while the person who's not is more likely to provide a top notch service, because he has more respect for himself and would never want to be caught delivering garbage.

huh. see, my thought is always "We're the phone company, we don't care because we don't have to." I know many people go through great pains to avoid dealing with the phone company. Do you use AT&T DSL? I use sonic.net. I mean, yeah, T owns the layer1, but the whole experience is quite a bit more pleasant when I don't have to deal with the T.

I've heard some people explain that companies, generally speaking, prefer to deal with other companies that are similar in size; It makes sense to me, at least in cases where I expect non-automated customer service.


Giant oligopolies are unpleasant to deal with for their own reasons. You want to appear indifferent to any particular sale for the same reason that playing hard to get works in dating: It implies that you are desirable/successful enough to pick and choose your partners.

These strategies take advanage of humans' built-in decision making and survival heuristics. Women like a man who's already taken because they can assume that his current mate has already extensively vetted him for desirability. Anyone who smells desperate trips alarms and gets you wondering why they can't find a mate / job /client.

There's a fine line between putting your best foot forward and cynically manipulating everyone around you of course. Robert Cialdini's book "Influence" shows you where the line is and how to stay on the clean side.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini#Six_.22Weapons_...

(P.S., thanks for prgmr. I enjoy my service.)


>You want to appear indifferent to any particular sale for the same reason that playing hard to get works in dating: It implies that you are desirable/successful enough to pick and choose your partners.

But, I thought that traditionally, that was only supposed to work with women. Men, from my understanding, seem to place a higher value on the physical attractiveness of their mates, and a lower value on the perceived social status of their mates.

Not that I'm an expert on selling or dating; it's just that most of the dating advice I've seen women given has to do with becoming more physically attractive, rather than the advice given to men, which seems to be about raising one's perceived social status. I mean, it could be that the advice (or my perception of that advice) is wrong, but it lines up with my personal observations.

This ignoring the vast differences between initiating short-term relationships and maintaining a long-term relationship, and the differences between selling a product and initiating a relationship.

(Oh, and thanks for being a customer. This is what I've always wanted to do.)


You should read (a synopsis of) The Rules. It's the female equivalent to the PUA craze, and it focuses on consistently acting like a high-value mate.

The idea is that a man with a passing interest in you will slowly convince himself that you are worth striving for and when he finally "wins" your hand he will feel like he has successfully proven himself and earned something he dearly wanted.

It's an implementation of the idea that things you work for are dearer to you than things that come your way with little effort.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rules


Huh. sounds like a strong counterexample to what I was saying. Interesting.


There are different types of service. If your time is valuable (I.E. you have money), you want to hire someone, who already knows what you want, what you need, and how to deliver it. Now, assume you have such a product.

Then, you talk to potential customers, and you tell them what you are offering. If somebody calls up, and asks for something stupid, you don't do it for them. Obviously, if somebody discovers a problem with something, you fix it. Obviously, if you realize a lot of customers need something, you probably want to add it to what you offer.

The point is that you have your own quality standards. So, your customers know when they deal with you, they can expect a certain quality. If you are just desperate to do whatever your customers tell you, you will have no quality standard, and you will need to ask a million questions.

People often ask for things they don't really want. You want to understand your customers better than they know themselves.


I've been in sales for years and the best way to describe this attitude is with a question. "If their good/service is really worth what they're asking, why are they trying so hard to make this sale?" When you can walk away, the client implies from that that you're successful, and therefore offering a quality product people want.


The "don't need money" attitude sends out a "social-proof" signal that the stuff being sold is in high demand, which translated into it's of high quality and worth buying.

It's similar to the pricing signal of a high-priced product. The buyer takes all these signals into consideration when buying.


You can see this attitude in Apple. They sell their products at relatively high prices. You can always hear it from Steve Jobs: we're not gonna produce crap that sell cheap.

When you think you're desperate for money, you become cheap, and you will produce garbage.

I think it's also why 37signals has this mantra about always saying No to feature requests. They're not desperate for more customers; they'd rather make a top notch product instead.


(too late to edit now, so a reply)

Here's a Steve Jobs video to showcase this mentality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu0qeb_rJYU




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