Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sitting Here in Limbo at the Midwest Airlines Center

I’m sitting here at another offsite

I’m at the Midwest Airlines Center selling books for the Manufacturing Matters conference. The keynote speakers are Tim Sanders (his latest books is Saving the World at Work) and Steven Little (most recently of The Milkshake Moment). Both authors wanted their books available for purchase and I complied.

Sales have been a bit slow. One customer asked if I matched Amazon’s prices, while another browser was sked by his colleague why didn't he just download the book on his Kindle? Just for that, I’m buying all my components for my thingamajig elsewhere. Maybe Vietnam, although I'm also sending a bid to India.

I’ve never had much luck with offsites, but since I keep hearing great stories from my current and former coworkers, I plow on. My gimmick is to round down to the nearest quarter, and then I get to say that the books are on special, they’re discounted nine cents! Also, I don’t have to carry anything but quarters.

At least this time I’m in the hall, but is it better? There are few organized breaks and I’m not directly on the flight path between workshops. Last week at another manufacturing conference (this one was about doing business in China), they stationed me in the same room as the speakers. It was very difficult for folks to buy books as they’d be interrupting the speakers who were giving advice about tax holidays and import fees. Oh, and I also drifted off to sleep

This time I brought two books to read but neither worked out for me. One, a novel, I found quite unreadable—flat and plotless and yet contrived (and no, I’m not telling you what the book was). Another, called Retail Anarchy, was a mishmash of stories about bad practices at various retailers and how the author one-upped the evil folks trying to sell him stuff. Sadly, the author didn’t seem like the kind of guy who might shop with me…in a million years.

(Mr. Pocker replies to my comments: "I just wanted to clear up one misconception that you expressed. I absolutely would shop in your store, I am a strong supporter of independently owned and operated businesses.")

I actually wound up reading parts of both authors' books and am working hard on being more likeable, having ingested the vital parts of The Likeability Factor. Everybody working on this conference must have read the book because the trade organization and the folks running the show are all very nice.

Last story of the conference. I like to make small talk with the folks, but seem to stick my foot in my mouth a lot because I’m out of my element. There’s some browsing but not much buying. At one point I said to a customer, “One great idea and the book more than pays for itself” and she bought four of the five titles. So later on I was chatting with another attendee and said the same thing, adding, “And it’s much cheaper than a consultant.”

“I’m a consultant,” he replied. I did not make the sale,

1 comment:

Higgy said...

Based on this blog entry, you may still have a future in comedy, Daniel!