Home » Testimoniály

Mark Bozzini

I’ve always considered myself a lousy salesman. But I’ve spent enough time in sales to learn a valuable lesson: If you try to sell what you have — whether it’s a product, an idea, or a strategy — you’ll have a tough sell. When I was younger, my approach to selling was entirely about my product, my company, my pricing. But it doesn’t take long to realize — and it’s always worth remembering — that clients don’t really care about your stuff. They care about their stuff.
You have to be able to put your finger on what motivates your customer. That requires one thing: effective communication. The best salespeople are also the best communicators. They know what questions to ask. They know how to probe an issue. And they know that "no" never means "no" — it just means "not now."
I remember one of my first sales calls. My job was to sell retailers more bottles of wine than I had sold them the month before — Paul Masson, Sterling Vineyards, Mumm’s champagne. I walked into one account, and I could tell immediately that the owner was having a bad day. With something like 60,000 items in his store, he had more than 200 vendors vying for his attention. This guy looked at me and said, "As far as I’m concerned, your stuff doesn’t sell, and I’d just as soon not have it on my shelf." Standing there, I had three thoughts: I need an immediate career change; I’m never going to make it as a salesman; and I have to figure out a way to make this sale.
I went to where my products were displayed and — not knowing that this was illegal (I was nonunion) — started to rearrange the bottles on the shelves. After an hour, I brought him over to show him what I had done. He screamed at me for fiddling with his shelf space, but he finally agreed that my arrangement looked much better than the previous one. I sketched out the fundamentals of merchandising and told him that we should see how this new arrangement worked. In short, it worked exceptionally well, he ended up becoming one of my best customers, and two years later, I was in his wedding. Does that have anything to do with sales technique? You tell me.

Mark Bozzini joined LinkExchange, the largest advertising network on the web, in 1998. Previously he was the CEO of Pete’s Brewing Co. Under Bozzini’s leadership, Pete’s increased its sales from $130,000 to $80 million — and thus became the second-largest microbrewery in the United States.

Judy George
Founder and CEO
Domain Home Fashions
Norwood, Massachusetts

Selling is like trading — it’s a give-and-take. I learned this truth from my father, who was Lebanese and owned his own business. The Lebanese are great traders, and my father would never ask for something without giving something in return. Whether I’m trying to sell an idea or a couch, I always try to leave an imprint on the person I’m dealing with — because if I don’t make an impact, it’s unlikely that I will have moved that person to take action. It’s also unlikely that I will get a second chance. To make an impact, I create a bond of intimacy. I find out as much as I can about the other person. I use that person’s name throughout the conversation. I speak slowly. I listen. I make him or her feel like the most important person in the world at that moment.
To start my business, I raised $28 million. The three VCs to whom I sold my idea were Harvard Business School graduates. Before our meeting, I learned everything I could about them. I went to Harvard and I talked to their professors. I researched their interests and hobbies. I studied their track records to learn how they looked at companies and what might attract their support. This preparation enabled me to understand where they were coming from. But I also made sure that they understood something about me — something that I hoped would compel them to take action on my behalf.
I train my sales consultants and managers in this approach to selling — in getting in touch with each customer. I sell home furnishings — that is, things. But what people really come into my store to buy is "style." A lot of customers worry that they have no style — which creates a certain amount of fear in the buying process. I don’t resort to the Martha Stewart or Ralph Lauren selling proposition: You have no style, and therefore you must buy mine. Rather, I sell by taking the time to figure out what the customer really wants. I’ve taught my employees to diffuse the customer’s fear by asking the right questions. By asking very specific questions, salespeople can give the customer a deeper understanding of what he or she truly wants.

Judy George leads the fast-growing, $50 million chain of Domain stores. Her goal for the next five years is to add 65 stores to the 23 now in operation. George is also the author of "The Domain Book of Intuitive Home Design: How to Decorate Using Your Personality Type" (Clarkson Potter, 1998).

Stanley Marcus: The key point of his interview was to sell consumers satisfaction. If you know before the sale that the customer won’t be satisfied in the long run, don’t make the sale.
Mark Jarvis: The key point of his interview was that effective communication of key points and any possible objections is essential to every sale.
Tom Scott: The best way to sell to people is to be straightforward and honest, not to try and “dupe” them.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson: Selling should be viewed as the development of a relationship, not as a transaction.
Guy Kawasaki: Sell to people who want your product; ignore those who don’t.
Mark Bozzini: The key point of his interview was that a good salesman has to know what motivates his consumers and how to effectively communicate to their needs.
Judy George: When trying to sell to a consumer, you have to create a bond with them to know where they are coming from and what exactly they want.
Tim Joyce: The main point of his interview is that selling is now about planning. Planning that includes knowing the customer (retailer) thoroughly and knowing what to do with that information.
Phil Guarascio: The key to selling is being able to give your customers enough understanding about the idea so that they are comfortable.
Carl Sewell: One of the secrets of selling is being able to stage a great show.
Stuart Snyder: Good salespeople must master the art of persuasion, know their product, be trustworthy, and be able to instill confidence in their customers.
Richard Marcus: A good sale includes everything that informs, excites, and motivates customers before they come to make the purchase.

Great salespeople are masters of the art of persuasion. P.T. Barnum, master salesman and a founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, used to say that "every crowd has a silver lining." Great salespeople can see that silver lining — both for themselves and for their customers. They know their product, they’re trustworthy, and they can instill confidence in their customers. Combine these qualities with an ability to listen, to sense through all of the clutter what a customer’s hot buttons are; add a passionate determination to put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the benefit of the customer; and you’ve got yourself a great salesperson.
In a lot of ways, the Greatest Show on Earth is an easy sell. Everyone loves the circus, and everyone loves to be entertained. But we sell more than just shows: We sell memories. We think of ourselves as being in the wonderment business, and we take seriously the responsibility of selling wonderment to more than 25 million people a year. At the same time, that responsibility makes the selling proposition very exciting.
Feld Entertainment is the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment. Feld Entertainment’s shows include the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 19 Disney On Ice presentations, and Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

Richard Marcus
Senior Adviser
Peter J. Solomon Co.
New York, New York

I started working at Neiman Marcus when I was 12 years old: I ran electric trains during the holiday season. Over time, I learned a lot from my experience there — especially from my father, Stanley Marcus. He has always stressed that selling is about more than a single transaction between a salesperson and a customer. It includes everything that piques a customer’s interest — everything that informs, excites, and motivates customers before they come to the table.
My father also understands the value of a good story — the way it can reach both customers and employees. For him, storytelling is part of our tribal lore. While I was growing up, I found it all too easy to roll my eyes and think, "Oh, I’ve heard this one before." But it’s amazing to witness the power that a simple story has to inspire the selling effort.
Richard Marcus (marcus@pjsolomon.com) served as CEO of Neiman Marcus from 1979 to 1988. Since 1997, he has served as a senior adviser at Peter J. Solomon, which provides investment-banking services to companies.
Sooner or later in business, everybody has to sell something to somebody. Even if you’re not "in sales," you’ve got to know how to sell — a product, a service, an idea, yourself. But what does it take to be an excellent salesperson? Is it all about building relationships? About being a good listener? Or about knowing your prospects so well that you understand what they want even better than they do? We asked 12 successful salespeople to answer these and other related questions. Here’s their advice on the art of selling. Are you buying?

Stanley Marcus
Chairman Emeritus
Neiman Marcus
Dallas, Texas

Selling is a lot like seduction. That’s especially true in the computer industry — where often you’re selling a vision rather than a product. It requires passion and emotion. When I’m in the selling zone, every cell in my body is working toward the same goal. I give myself instant feedback: If I’m emotionally drained after trying to make a sale, I know that I’ve done a good job.
I always use humor in the selling process. I make sure that the person across the table from me is having more fun than I am. There’s nothing like a joke to disarm a group — to relax people and get them on your side. I’ve also learned a lot about selling by watching Larry Ellison, our CEO. Larry is king of the one-liner. He’s taught me that communication is most effective when it translates a complex idea in a simple way.
When I prepare for a sales presentation, I try to think like my client and like my competitor. I try to pinpoint every objection that either of them could make to my presentation. I write these objections down, and then I figure out a way to respond to each one in three lines or less. I’ve given these "scripts" to sales reps, who then used them in their presentations. It’s staggering how even the most boring sales rep can become a great salesperson simply by learning to convey a few simple points. If you can move a customer so that he or she can’t argue against your point, then you’ve won.

Mark Jarvis spearheaded the launch and rollout of several Oracle products, including Oracle8, Oracle 7.3, and Network Computing Architecture. Jarvis also serves on Oracle’s Product-Development Management Committee under CEO Larry Ellison.

Tom Scott
Cofounder and CEO
Nantucket Nectars
Nantucket, Massachusetts