Ding-Dong: "Avon Calling…"
If you’re a baby boomer, then no doubt the words “Avon Calling” are bound to knock some dust and cobwebs off your mental shelves. Here’s why, and how it all got started…
In the late 1800’s, David McConnell was selling books door-to-door. As a way of persuading people to buy, he started giving out small vials of cologne and fragrances. But oddly enough, within a short period of time, the demand for these fragrances became much greater than the demand for his books.
So McConnell set up shop in Manhattan, and hired a bunch of women to go door-to-door, selling his fragrances. He also stood behind a guarantee that if anyone was unhappy with any of his products, he’d give them a complete refund.
This kind of a guarantee, by the way, wasn’t a very common practice back then.
Today, there are nearly 2 million Avon reps, in more than 100 countries, selling over 700 products.
Great success story, isn’t it?
Few really great lessons here.
First, McConnell was smart enough to let “want” dictate his revenue. He didn’t try and force books down people’s throats, he let the marketplace tell him what they wanted. All too often, people don’t respond to this — they fall in love with their goods and services because they feel so strongly about what people “need.”
Let me tell you something: outside of food, water and shelter, we really don’t “need” very much.
And if I’m 100% honest, this is where I faltered early on in my career. Selling into need and not want.
Second, the power of sampling is incredible. In fact, if you look at places like Costco and Sam’s, and even your small-town local fruit stand, you’ll see how entire businesses have been built on this. (And whether you know it or not, that’s why my daily tips are — samples.)
And lastly, one thing that’s often overlooked: courage. It takes a great deal of courage to go out and do what we do. To continually be the proverbial “man in the arena,” in spite of things like competition, doubt, no pre-made path to travel down… and yes, a bad economy.
So next time you’re in a rut or feeling down or insecure about your business, remember… that’s normal. It takes courage to be an entrepreneur, and even more coverage to weather the storm on an ongoing basis.
But it damn sure beats the alternative, doesn’t it?
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
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