Do you want to buy a sign?
“If you are like nearly everyone else in this world, you have accepted so many things without question that you’re not thinking at all.”
– Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Ph.D., business consultant, author, originator of theory of constraints
On the online Warrior Forum, a guy named Martin documented that he’d received a wholesale novelty catalog that listed 10 x 19-in. LED “Open” signs for $10.80 each, in a case of 20. After reading this, he investigated the retail price of LED “Open” signs and found them listed for up to $99 each, so, now empowered by an entrepreneurial idea, he ordered a case of 20 with the idea of selling them to local businesses – door to door – for $40 each.
The Warrior Forum isn’t about warriors, so don’t go there for material on Geronimo. Instead, it’s a web marketing site that hosts mixed reviews, thus my mention here isn’t an endorsement. However, Martin’s offbeat story – titled “How to make $584 a week selling LED signs” – can present a clear message to those who make and sell signs.
Martin is not a sign professional. However, five or so years ago and for a brief period, he transformed into a sign salesperson. He wrote, “All I did to sell my LED ‘Open’ signs was to walk into a store that I noticed didn’t have an LED ‘Open’ sign, or might want another one, and inquired if the owner or manager was in. I showed them the LED ‘Open’ sign and asked if they would like to buy one for just $40.”
Martin said he labored two hours a day for five days and sold his 20 “Open” signs to corner stores at $40 each. He profited $584 for 10 hours’ effort, he said.
Not bad for a $216 investment.
That wasn’t all. Ever-vigilant Martin soon recognized that many stores he visited quartered an ATM – but not a lighted ATM sign, “only a sticker or paper sign on their door or in their window,” he wrote. Martin rummaged online for wholesale, LED ATM signs and found them for $10 each, in a case of 20.
He said they sold like hot cakes. He quickly hawked his 20 ATM signs at $40 each, earned $600 and bought 40 more. He unloaded these in seven days, to clear $2,400 overall.
Great sales story, right? Is it true?
It’s on the Internet, so it could be untrue. (Our research revealed that Martin is the subject of a couple of related accusations that are less than flattering about his business ethics. …) Also, Martin’s declared profits don’t reflect costs other than the purchase price. Nonetheless, you can easily grasp his winning strategy: Buy low, sell high, but not as high as the competition.
Martin said he obtained the LED signs from Alibaba.com. I checked out the website. It offers various Shanghai-made signs, including those that say “Open,” but doesn’t divulge prices or display methods to query – unless you enroll online.
That’s so ’90s.
Amazon catalogs several dozen “Open” – “Bakery,” “Florist,” “Coffee Shop” and “Computer Repair” – signs, with prices that range from $19.99-$160.
Are they any good? Sure. Certainly. And, I have a bridge you might want to buy.
Most important here is to observe Martin’s successful sales approach. He didn’t create a website, go on Twitter, sign up for Facebook, buy cable television ads or print full-color brochures. Instead, he sauntered from business to business and asked if they would like to buy a sign. In this manner, Martin honored the most basic rule for successful sales: He asked for the order.
There’s more, of course. For example, the Sign Warehouse Sign College website lists five professional selling practices. It says salespeople should:
• Show a true interest in the other party and their needs.
• Be a solution seller – what do you have that solves a problem for your prospective customer?
• Be Open [my emphasis here] and honest in a way that your customers can perceive.
• Identify how they can help customers fulfill a true need and focus on that, rather than pushing something they don’t need.
• Resist all sales gimmicks.
Martin did that. He showed interest (by observing the store needed an “Open” sign); he delivered a solution (“Are they ‘Open’?” “Do they have an ATM?”); he was honest (“Do you want to buy this sign?”); he helped his customer fulfill a need (he offered a lower-cost sign than available elsewhere); and he didn’t advance sales gimmicks. Entrepreneurial Martin simply applied fundamental business directives and, reportedly, succeeded. He saw a need, found a profitable and uncomplicated solution, and acted on it.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.