Salespeople of the World – 5 Ways to Improve your Pitch

sales repA sales rep visited our library earlier today (Recorded Books was showing off their fledgling Rdio for Libraries product). Cool product, though I’ll guess not many libraries will go for it – bad pricing model, and no way to brand it as coming from the library. Just my opinion of course – prove me wrong, please!

But that’s beside the point. The sales rep, of course, was fine – he presented the info we needed to assess the product. It was an interesting meeting on a new model for music in libraries. What’s not to love about that?

But on the other hand, he did a couple of things that I have seen A LOT of sales reps do over the years, and it reminded me of other things I’ve seen in other product demo meetings.

So – Sales People of the World. Here are 5 ways to improve your pitch:

  1. Know how to use your own technology. I’ve seen this more than once – a sales rep takes us through a Powerpoint presentation, but never actually uses … um … the presentation mode. Instead, they have scrolled through the individual slides with a mouse. Or they advanced one slide too many, then didn’t know how to go back to the previous slide. Or simply didn’t know how to plug their laptop up to an LCD projector. All that says is that you don’t know how to use technology … even thought you are trying to sell us a technology product. Not. Good.
  2. Know technology in general. Be familiar with general technology terms, especially when it relates to the product you’re trying to sell. For example, don’t ever confuse downloading and online streaming. Two very different things. If you confuse those pretty basic things … and you’re selling a technology-related product … why should I trust you with my organization’s money? Ever?
  3. Don’t be negative about your own product. I’ve seen this many times. Either the rep will say the pricing will turn off many libraries, or the product isn’t really ready yet. Really? Then why are you here, wasting my time?
  4. Know your product. This happened in today’s meeting. Part of the coolness of the product is that it connects to Facebook and Twitter. If that’s the case, then by golly gee whiz, you had better show us what it does by clicking the Facebook button and hooking it up through your Facebook account – instead of saying “I don’t have a Facebook account yet.” One more example: I remember … granted, a LONG time ago … seeing the first web-based GEAC interface (that’d be a library catalog system). It didn’t display call numbers.Really. The rep didn’t seem to notice this in his product, until I pointed it out to him. Then he proceeded to blame the “home office” for it. Not the best way to sell a product, I’m thinking… which leads me to #5:
  5. Don’t blame the home office. If you don’t know stuff, never say “they didn’t tell us that.” I could care less who told/didn’t tell you, and it makes it sound like the sales staff and the home office are somehow at odds with each other. Instead, just say “Great question! I don’t know, but I’ll find out. What’s your email address?”
So – what else? Any of you notice something that sales people do in product demos that really just drives you crazy? Name it … and then tell us what they can do to improve!
image by Celal Teber

Visiting the DOK Library Concept Centre

Larger YouTube version

I recently spoke at the UGame ULearn conference in Delft, Netherlands … and had some time to visit the DOK Library Concept Centre while I was there.

DOK is Delft’s local public library – but my, what a library! Cool building, forward-thinking staff, lovely setting … and lots of amazing technology, too. So I took some video!

This video highlights some of the neat projects DOK creates for their community. In each of them, you’ll notice a nice melding of technology, content, and community. Whether they’re working with a Microsoft Surface, creating a video, or setting up gaming in the kids area, they always include content and community connections.

I think the best example of this is highlighted towards the end of the video, when Erik Boekesteijn explains how their art gallery works with local schools to remotely display art in the classroom. Students can view a digitized version of the painting on a TV monitor setup in the classroom – they might see 20-30 works of art, have classroom discussions, etc. Then they take a trip to the library to see the actual painting.

Connecting community to content through technology – nicely done, DOK!

photo of DOK in the video by dmsmidt

Extreme Customer Service at Darien Library

I recently visited Darien Library with the goal of checking out their innovative approach to technology – goal achieved! Check out the video in this post (and thanks to John Blyberg for the tour and for putting up with my video camera!). While their technology is amazingly cool, that’s not really what excited me. What excited me most was Darien’s idea of extreme customer service.

During my Darien visit, I had the privilege of chatting with Louise Berry, Alan Gray, and John Blyberg over lunch (great lunch, great conversation – thanks guys!). We talked about technology, new library buildings, and how we should be serving our library customers. Louise and Alan told me about their library’s core message – extreme customer service. Basically, they want to demonstrate extreme customer service in everything they do.

This idea of a “core message” is discussed in the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. Most of the book is devoted to making your core message “stick” – this is what Darien Library has done.

They even provided examples. During lunch, Louise, Alan and John mentioned an after-hours wine and cheese event they held at the library. The library was closed, but doors were open. Patrons not attending the event came in anyway … and guess what? They weren’t turned away – instead, they were allowed to check out books (RFID-based self-check-out machines help). Staff were even seen setting up new library cards for patrons. This is very different from what many libraries do. For most after-hours events, patrons would simply be told (nicely, I’m sure) to come back tomorrow.

So – one example of extreme customer service at Darien. You can find another example in the video. Watch for the mini laptops in the children’s area of the library. Those are staff public service laptops used for roaming reference type stuff. But listen to the children’s staff talk about them – kids pick those laptops up and use them. Patrons even use the public service desktop … and Darien’s staff is fine with that! When I asked about this, here’s what I heard: “why would we NOT allow that?”

John said the same thing later on in my tour (not captured on video). We were in a staff area, and I noticed someone had brought in her personal laptop. I asked what she could connect to … and John said staff can bring in their personal laptops and connect to Darien’s staff-only network. I pried a bit further, and this is when John said “why would we NOT allow that? It would simply hinder their work!” Then John went on to explain that they plan for the exceptions and fix those things, rather than lock down technology so much that it hinders the work of the library. Extreme customer service for their staff, too!

Does your library have a core message, and how does that play out? And … does your library lock technology down so much so that it hinders the work of the library? What would happen if you opened that can of worms up? Would any escape? Something to think about…