A Book Review That Is 23 Years Late

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O.K. I know we all procrastinate some, but 23 years?

Back in the late ‘80s (sometime in 87-88) I had the chance to attend a presentation by the president of a local envelope company.  There were 40 or 50 of us in the room and I remember that I was fascinated by the sales concepts that were presented that day.

The one that stuck out most was called the “66-question customer profile.”  What each sales person at the envelope company was required to do was keep a file on each of their clients and continually keep adding to this list of 66 things they wanted to know about them.  We are not talking envelope color preferences, but rather things like college fraternity or extracurricular activities, names and ages of children, if any, and even things like their children’s education and interests.

How might this information possibly be used to sell more envelopes?  According to the presenter, “people, not specs, will always be the key in determining who gets the sale.”  He would take home the files for the top ten customers each weekend and memorize the facts about them.  What followed then was a systemized process of always connecting with the customer through one of these 66 points.  If they liked baseball, they would often get sent baseball tickets to their favorite team.  If they went to a particular school that was in common with the salesperson they would reminisce about the way it used to be.

Notice that the connection was never about envelopes it was always about the customer.  I recently wrote a column about how marketers are told to get their prospects to “know, like, and trust” them.  But that column really turned the equation backwards and suggested that they get to know their customers better.  This is a perfect application of that 66 question customer profile.

You can still get a copy of this book 23 years later and that president of Mackay Envelope Corporation is known more for his international speaking and numerous books that have followed this one.  The original book, “Swim With The Sharks without Being Eaten Alive” was written by none other than Harvey Mackay.  It is definitely worth reading, or as I recently did, reading it again.  The principles about how to outsell, outmanage, outmotivate, and outnegotiate your competition are priceless.

You can still find a copy of this (I believe a newly updated version) on Amazon for under $7 by CLICKING HERE  (aff link)


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