The often entertaining Maggs On Media recently interviewed a Joburg based adland big cheese. Reg Lascaris started his own agency as the ‘schmoozer’ alongside his creative partner without an office.
All they had was his bright yellow Toyota Corolla. They told clients it was their ‘mobile pitch unit’ and let them come to you. On their first day of sales all their layouts were in the back but they’d failed to close the boot properly.
One pothole later and all their work fell out. To be run over by a truck. The prospective client saw the funny side of their tyre scarred efforts and gave them some business. Hence the title of his career summarising book, Lessons From A Car Boot.
This in itself is a killing insight. I once had the Sales boss of Europe’s largest on-trade supplier tell me you must do something that the prospect remembers you by. And that invariably means what where I was born would affectionately be known as ‘dropping a brick’.
His favourite example was spilling coffee everywhere. I myself won a big deal once when my butterfingers managed to crash a full glass of water all around an immaculate boardroom.
I found the interview fairly disconcerting. Telly can be an unforgiving environment. Judicious editing can easy give a misleading impression. So I hope the lack of warmth and dismissive cockiness displayed is not the real life persona. Especially as his story of rising after being conned by his accountant is a beaut. He’d ran off with all his money, yet he still took the effort and many years to pay back everyone affected,
He made a point that his industry certainly was about selling. At the end he was asked to select his main business lesson (from around the hundred listed at each chapter end). In order, he rattled off this quartet;
Be a tough minded optimist – you can’t give up
Be passionate, you’ve got to love it
Never attack the person, but you can attack the issue
Set big goals
Three of those will be nothing new to most of us. The third though, now that was fresher. He talked of being able to go hammer and tongs with clients ‘all night’ debating an issue, but the minute you make it personal, and your attack switches to the competence or qualities of the other person, you are finished.
He also gave a couple of other soundbites I liked with selling overtones.
It’s not about brave suppliers, it’s about brave clients, and
Silent and listen have the same letters.
This last point came up in the context of when he met Nelson Mandela.
Typically at 0630 as he still worked on prison time. He was pitching, and then working on, his ANC party’s account in the run up to the landmark 1994 elections.
He described Mandela as a great listener. And remarked how unusual he’d found that in business. After all, when you’re also talking you cannot possibly be listening.
The best two points here I’m sure you can use yourself to terrific effect.