Monday, March 24, 2014

Demos and Samples – Are your demo units showing up on Pawn Stars?

Demos and Samples – Are your demo units showing up on Pawn Stars?

I believe in demonstrations.  I trust that samples placed in our customer’s hot little hands still plays a part in selling.  In an age of internet everything, one critical difference between the well versed knowledge-based salesperson and the web-only competitor is a customized demonstration.  I love demo units.  But, most distributors do a poor job with demo units.

Why do I say this? 

First, conversations with dozens of distributors reveals massive investments in samples and demos.  It’s not uncommon for even a small sized distributor to have $50,000 tied up in demo equipment.  

Secondly, I have visited the storage spaces where demo units are held.  Many could best be described as massive heaps of scuffed cases, dusty products and mangled wires.  
A good many have been robbed of parts; rendering them all but useless to any sales activity.  Finally, I have seen dust laden demos stashed in demo graveyards, otherwise known as the trunk.  There amongst the golf clubs, leftovers from the last family outing, and other assorted  junk, lays a $500 demo with yesterday’s catsup stains.  If we weren’t talking about large outlays of cash, it would be a great joke. 

Last night, this ugly picture resurfaced in my mind.  After a long day at the River Heights World Headquarters, I got home, plunked my tired carcass down in front of the family room TV and tuned to the History Channel.  I got there just in time to catch the last 15 minutes of Pawn Stars.  Let me give you the rundown. 

We’ll fast forward past the part about the Old Man’s Birthday and zoom by a couple of random shots of the Chumlee’s bumbling jokes.  In walks a guy with a top secret case.   In the cursory pre-meeting interview, he describes something tied to TOP SECRET nuclear detonations.  The case is pristine, unmarked and contains lots of flashing lights and pushbuttons. 

As our hero Rick examines the case, I immediately recognized it as one of the Rockwell Automation Safety Product Demo cases.  We’re not talking about the case that holds the products for customer handling but the full-blown wired case with a fully functional Safety Controller and wired push buttons.  This is a nice bit of sales collateral.  The picture below isn’t the exact model, but it will give you an idea:  

They have posted the video here:

Rick goes through his usual spiel about the background of the item (salesman’s case), but he obviously doesn’t know much about safety guarding.  I plan to stop by and give him an education on my next trip to Vegas.  Watch for my new reality show: Distributors Gone Wild. 

The rather husky “picker” carrying the case wants $500 bucks for it.  Rick tells him no way, the guy quickly drops his price from $500 to $300 then on to a couple of sawbucks.  Rick refuses to buy.  Period.

And while this whole event was mildly amusing to the average folks, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen the next time a salesperson actually needed the case.  Somewhere, there is a guy searching around his backroom, looking under desks, asking all his buddies where the case was last seen.  Not good.
Without sounding as grumpy as the Old Man, let me ask you a rhetorical question:  Could this have been you? 

Want to find your missing demo case?  Watch the Head Games (Premiering March 20) episode which will repeat on these days and be posted online in 2 weeks.  March 27, 2014 8:30 ET, March 28, 2014 12:30-1:00 AM ET.  

Want to talk about a better way of handling demos?  Call me.

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