"Sell me a pencil"

This is a story about listening to your customers – whether you're in sales, news or at the switchboard?   You'll never be successful if you don't pay attention to their needs.

There is a sales manager at a TV station in San Diego who always asks prospective sales people the same question – "sell me a pencil?"  He then sits patiently as they enthusiastically launch into their sales pitch – extolling all the benefits of the pencil.

After they've run out of superlatives about the pencil, he asks them the most important question – "How do you know I even use a pencil, you never asked me?"  As the sales prospect sits there in silence, he explains that he may prefer a pen because he never makes a mistake, or he only uses a computer keyboard or there may be many other reasons.  The bottomline is the sales prospect was so busy trying to sell the pencil that he never asked what the buyer's needs were when it comes to pencils.

There are obvious implications from this story for your sales department.  But, what about the news department?  Are your reporters so busy thinking of the next question that they are not listening to what the interview subject is actually saying?    Are they missing information because they are not asking the right follow-up questions?

What about the receptionist or when people call the news department?  Are you too busy trying to get rid of the caller so you aren't listening to what they are saying?  Are you missing great stories by brushing off these callers without asking a few questions?

Are you missing the opportunity of converting a new viewer because they are upset enough to call you – but you are too busy to spend a few minutes listening to them – and asking the right questions?

"Sell me a pencil!"

Jim Willi 


This entry was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Willi. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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