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Lessons From a 125 Year Old Business (usersnap.com)
38 points by grexi on July 19, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments

Never oversell

This is a delicate art. Suggest-selling can enrich the customer's experience. My mother ran a bookstore and I didn't like doing sales and suggesting additional books. I was never pressed to, but I noticed that other employees could suggest an appropriate related book without pushing the sale.

It wasn't often that the customer would take it, but because it was appropriately related, they wouldn't lose out on the experience, and if they did like it, it was higly positive and a win-win situation. A skilled salesperson is interesting to observe.

Software style over-selling in the context of a bookshop would be something like taking money for a book that the author hasn't even thought about writing.

Or maybe, in the style of "salesmen who can't say no":

"Is it a thriller?"


"Is a romance?"


"Is it an accurate historical account?"


"Is it science fiction?"


"Is it easy to read?"


"Who is the author?"

"Who would you like the author to be?"

[NB I really have been the sales engineer in meetings like that and I found them to be awful - no amount of kicking under the table or subtle hand signals would stop some people]

I think suggest-selling is not part of oversell - and therefore totally ok.

Oversell in retail means in my thoughts: talking somebody into buying stuff he really don't need. Like the 6th shoe cleaning spray for your new leather shoes.

With software, this is a delicate line. It's also one that's taken me a LONG time to get my mind around. I always thought it was unethical to promise anything you haven't already done. Then Oracle came around and showed you can eventually get around to keeping good on the promises as long as you grow large enough to be the market standard. And they crushed a lot of firms that did business the "right way". The market operates in strange ways some times.

Yes, "without pushing" is key, but I think there's more to it... Theoretically, google ads are enriching, by noting the existence of an option likely to interest you.

The adwords model came from goto.com (then overture.com) which was entirely ads that you searched. Like searchable classifieds I guess.

This list of the world's oldest companies may also be of interest:


Remarkable to see companies that have lasted more than 1,000 years! And sad to see that Kongo Gumi - a Japanese construction compnay - shut down in 2006, after being founded in 578 CE.

The first company with shares appears to be Stora Enso[1], and it's also claimed by some to be the first corporation.

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16611040

Wow, impressive list.

And founding a brewery in the 1400ies was really a good idea.

We don't see how many were founded and failed. So maybe not.

I guess great sail era was full of drunkards.

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