The Comfort Zone Of The Seller

Gold Coin Nero RomeIt is said that everything has its price. This is most probably true. Many have had to pay the hard price work for their success and have had to work year after year without a break. To push himself to uncomfortable areas. Away from the familiar and safe. If you want to develop, you must take steps out from your comfort zone.

I took new steps at Kalajoki Beach, when I walked towards the seaside as a newly chosen project manager. I had given up my place as a sales manager of Katinkulta and had stepped into new challenges. I had been recruited to make results in the recession of the economy, when companies fell like hay in a storm. I was committed to a marketing contract so there was no return. I had to get on with the job.

Sunnuntailenkillä elokuussa Nallikarissa 13Kalajoki and sandbanks were in sales terms light years away from sales offices of Katinkulta where I had enjoyed two years of hard rise. In Kalajoki everything was at the initial stage. After the first six months the summer did not look rosy. The risks began to be realised and the selling did not get started. The problem was the new sales office. The building licence for it was not obtained from the county of Kalajoki.

It began to seem strongly that matters neither will come true nor succeed. I had a big lump in my throat and I felt bad. I cleared my thoughts dozens of times during that spring by walking to the seaside. I thought about the matters, why did I start in this challenge?

I was definitely out of my comfort zone as a seller and as a human. The road seemed to be rising steeply up. What did I do? I shortened the steps to half, started walking faster and I trusted in myself. I said often aloud to myself:

“Markku, you will make sales history. You are good and you can. Do not give in now. You are a winner. You can do this. You are the best.”

After all it went so in Kalajoki, that the whole municipal council visited the site to make the important decision. The building license was obtained for the best location of the sandbanks, next to Siikarysä Fish Restaurant. The wheels began to turn. The sales office was completed in the same summer with the assistance of the PR–house factory from Alavieska. Special thanks for it belong to managing director Mr. Tapani Kääntä. In the autumn we celebrated the big opening at the sandbanks with the power of 450 guests. The party was memorable. The holiday to Hawaii raffled in the event was won by Mr. & Mrs. Saksola from Alavieska.

Inspire Me Mountain TopNow business was no longer depending on the Sales Desk, so I began to do what I was expected to. Get results. In the new location I felt my self-esteem increasing and I was preparing for a record sales summer, when paint from the roof would be removed as champagne bottles were popping for the celebrating of closed deals.

About 300,000 day visitors visited in Kalajoki on June–July 1990´s, which is the problem of the area. 60–80 sales days is not enough for profitable business around the year, if you are not clever and rapid enough during summer period. Considering the special grade in the area I ended up in my new innovation, in a strategic thought that economic students from Vaasa and Vaasa University were worth recruiting for summer jobs. Vacation ownership representatives should be under 170 cm in hight, easily approachable, pleasing and educated young women. So not those normal sales weasels ― ADHDers, who are mainly interested in themselves. I needed Queen Bees ― it’s all in the attitude…

ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

I decided to try a new plan, in which women present and men price. I had read about the forgotten 1970´s success–story–concept of real estate agency group Huoneistokeskus, where women work as presenters and men as closers. There it was.

There were customers visiting the sandbanks of Kalajoki like black clouds in the sky, but also customer acquisition “in from door” had to be in order. The work had to function as if greased so I decided to recruit the best in the world for the task, smooth Jani with his Mercedes.

Jami had earned credit in Gran Canary Island, Spain as the best, funniest and most pleasant outside contact person of all times, who knows the matters. I wanted to have this 165 cm tall ´Ross Perot´ for us also because he was extremely result oriented, focussed enterprising young man from Middle Finland. Jami also has his green 280 Coupe Mercedes available, which he had imported from abroad.

His reputation gave a feeling of safety for both sellers and leaders. He was so efficient. Also customers liked him. There was never negative feedback. Only smiling customers walking in. To make my plan perfect, I still needed a good customer financing, which was formed that time from local Savings Bank KEP.

Savings Bank KEP quickly educated Harry and myself to grant genuine bank loans with 7.5% fixed interest in situ, where the market interest was more than 13%. The deals would not fail at least for the lack of financing. The customer financing was unique, nobody else has similar.

To my big surprise job applications began to flood from Vaasa. Half of the the sellers chosen by me were six laudatur´s secondary school graduates and seven of them were already economics students. The applicants were less than 175 cm tall, except one Ville and one tall Heidi. All of them were enthusiastic to make hard selling for 100 days with me. They wanted to learn to make deals and to get a genuine sales experience for their studies. I had it.

I hired one already distinguished top-seller at the field, Kimmo from Jyväskylä to show the way for novices. I got a top-seller Harry from Kuusamo Spa Resort beside me as a sales manager and as a closer (take over). Harry became a partner, sales manager and a closer competitor for the sales competition in summer of 1992, which was declared open with “The days of Thunder” –song at every morning meeting ― Our daily mantra!

Markku Tauriainen SmilingThe lump in the throat no longer existed as I walked to the shore of the sea. Vice versa. Everyday was like laughing gas, to which it was nice to wake up to. We worked firmly and we competed against another in a healthy way. During that summer I broke all the sales records of the field. The business was so good immediately after mother´s day, that the piccolo champagne bottles first ran out from of Alko liquor store of Kalajoki, then after a short time it ran out of all the nearby ´Alko´ –stores within radius of 300km. All the actions succeeded and all the sellers excelled themselves. We made sales history. I also made my own record as a closer, which still stands.

Holy Grail of SalesWe were able to drink from the Holy grail, which is found extremely rarely.

At least it may be searched for if you stay in your comfort zone. In order to challenge yourself, you have to strive out from your comfort zone.

The more often you make this the more you develop and succeed in demanding sales matters. You walk over difficulties and you are able to make sales, which you have not experienced before. At the same time you make history ― by winning yourself!

Two Secretaries, No Offers

Inspire Me Markku TauriainenWhen I had worked as a holiday ownership seller already for many years, I began to develop new creative solutions to the sales done in my industry. I noticed soon that thousands of Finns had bought a holiday share (timeshare) from abroad on their holiday.

However, they could not use their own club as “a summer cottage” like the shareholders of Katinkulta in Finland did. They only paid expensive service charges and saved their weeks to the RCI-holiday bank and they put shares owned by them (dissatisfied customers) for sale to Holiday Bourse Finland, which was located in Denmark. They tried to get rid of them, one way or another. So it came to my mind, that I would start making fair swap deals first in Finland and in addition to everything I would make those over the phone.

When I presented my thought to my colleagues, they thought it was crazy, but I thought differently. Next I called to Denmark to beautiful middle-aged Mrs. Jette Birkholm, who was the owner of Holiday Bourse Scandinavian A/S company and also the owner of Holiday Bourse Finland.

She had one Finnish girl working there and also she was tired of answering to customer calls in which was asked:

“Is the timeshare sold yet?”

Marilyn Monroe Inspire Me PosterJette suggested that I would buy her whole business. I thought about her proposal for a couple of days making calculations. I knew that Holiday Bourse had some 4,600 Finns in register, who owned from abroad and wanted to sell.

With the help of my instinct I came through to the conclusion to that perhaps about half of the persons, of the assignments would be active. I calculated that there were 2,500 Finns so that, if I would be able to make part exchange deals with about ten per cent of them even half a million euros turnover would accumulate. Jette wanted to have 15,000 euros, in cash from her tired business.

My business partner Harry did not support my thoughts. Vice versa. He asked me, what was the point paying 15,000 euros for the addresses when no one would buy a holiday share over the phone. However I was sure that the deal would be good, if we would agree on decent terms of payment. With these thoughts I called to Jette and booked a quick meeting to Copenhagen. In the following week I drove to Denmark, a deal as a goal (distance was 2.000km by car from my office).

I took the risk and I made a deal to buy Holiday Bourse Finland. Jette agreed to the fact that I would pay the sum asked by her in five lots within six months. Then there was a problem, which no one in Finland had yet determined, to be solved: How to make a part exchange deals?

I thought about the equation on my journey from Copenhagen back to Vuokatti and ended up with the thought that there is no time for sending offers. I planned in my Porsche 928 that the direct sales had to be done and on the phone. But how?

I started the work by isolating the part exchange sales activity from the holiday resort of Vuokatti. I opened a new Holiday Bourse Finland sales office at Kajaani (36 km from the resort) in to rental facilities, but I did not form a new company. The operation was a part of the Country Club´s business, for which I was the managing director.

Good and affordable office furniture with indoor plants were found from the clearance sale of insurance company Kansa. I asked Sirpa, who was my loyalty person to be my colleague and my secretary. Together we knew a lot of this Canary Island mess. Furthermore, I employed also another secretary, young Mira, in other words ended up with two secretaries.

I wanted to make nothing more than deals, a lot of them. I took as my goal to make 200 deals during the first year with the assistance of my secretaries. My turnover target was 300,000 euros. When succeeding It would return my investment within a year and the system would pay for itself. I would make sales history at the same time.

I motivated myself by setting a A3 sheet in the end of the bed which said: 1000€/day. That much allowed me to make the loan repayments of the company from my desk every day even “with my head just above the mud”. And I wanted to succeed.

ceo-markkutauriainen-smiling-at-blogsite.jpgI started by making new working tools: a new survey form and a new A4 –cash payment barter form. And lets get started. I presented the matter to my customers this way:

“Hi this is Markku from Vuokatti Country Club, how do you do… I have bought the business of Holiday Bourse Finland. As a new owner I stop giving empty promises, so that your listed share would be sold. I provide an opportunity to transfer the money you have invested abroad back to Finland, by offering you a part exchange deal to Vuokatti, where I have established a new holiday resort.

The service charges, maintenance fees are only half of those in Hollywood Mirage in Tenerife owned by you and you can use the resort year round with one week share including the spa of Katinkulta, whose shareholders we are. Finnish alternative. Are you interested in making a part exchange deal?”

Every single customer got interested. They asked nearly always, if I could send a written offer. I answered that I cannot and I don´t want to. I´m making deals. A customer answered that he cannot make the decision on the phone this fast. I stated that there is no need to. I make deeds with my two secretaries all day long, which I sign and post. All the relevant papers will come to your home and a deal is accepted from my side and has been signed, if you decide to buy, you only return me the signed deed. Many customer answered:

“Have I already bought something?”

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“Not yet”, I answered (above photostream shows my product).

“But to which week you would like to change your foreign possession to, if we reach an understanding about the cash payment, which is from one thousand to three thousand euros depending on the week? Are you more interested in summer or winter week?”

Inner diamondUsually a customer asked for the cheapest possible alternative, to which I then negotiated the terms of payment. I always returned strictly to money and asked how the customer could pay the required cash payment, if they agree.

My next question, proposal was:

“Would it be easier for you to make the decision about the swop deal, if I could give you time for the payment in two lots, so that you would pay half within 2 months and the rest by the end of the year?

If I could act this way, you would be in, or what?” (closing the deal)

In other words I only negotiated about the deal and its terms of payment. In the end I asked all the details of the deal with their identify numbers and with their addresses before I congratulated the customer about making a good deal and wished them welcome for a holiday and as a owner of Country Club of Vuokatti, Finland. Then I passed the paper to Sirpa or to Mira and took the next call for getting a new deal. No offers were send. Deeds were. 38.5% of them returned as signed. I made 192 cash payment part exchange deals during the first year, and all barters by telephone ― awesome, isn´t it?

Gold Coin Nero RomeThe turnover accumulated was over twenty times as much as the amount invested and the purchase of Holiday Bourse and OP–bank–loans of Country Club were paid from the cash desk.

I made sales history. I was happy for a reason and I still am. Very valuable experience.

Remember to be creative and enthusiastic. Do not listen to naysayers. Only new innovations and marketing brings new customers. With the help of creativity you get new customers and double your sales easily. If anything, that is worth reaching.

I tell another example about the innovative solution…to appeal your brain more. Nowadays, sales is more and more entertaining.

Markku Tauriainen FinlandMIND FRESHENER –The bullet proof way is to remember to be creative and enthusiastic. Only new innovations and marketing brings new customers. Your duty is to accept this remarkable truth, isn´t it?

In the next chapter I will write about: BUILD THE PRODUCT, DEVELOP YOUR KNOW-HOW!