A friend of mine was telling me about a story she’s writing about marketing in tough times. She pointed out that companies like Hewlett-Packard, Airstream Trailers, Fender Guitars, Les Paul and Adolph Rickenbacker guitars, Coleman camping gear and other iconic companies were all started at the peak of, or like Coleman, were in business around the time of the great depression. Although Coleman started in the early 1900’s the depression hit them hard. The others though were all actually founded during the great depression. The remarkable thing is, they stumbled a bit, and then thrived and are still around today, all of them classic symbols of American culture.
Think about it. These companies weren’t selling food, shelter or necessities. They were selling art, camping, electronics, music and leisure products in a time when most folks were unemployed and impoverished, and scrambling to buy groceries. Makes you wonder what kind of sales people and techniques they employed, doesn’t it? The lesson is that it’s not the economy that determines sales success.
I thought about it a bit, and then looked into it. Lo and behold, the philosophy that all of them shared, some to a greater degree (and thus greater success), was “Listen to your customer and respond to the feedback.” Sounds familiar doesn’t it. “Listen First, Sell Later.” That mantra has worked for more than one hundred years through lean times and fat. They knew it. I know it. Trust it. It works.
” There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” James Nathan Miller