Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bullied into buying

I think it would be safe to say that most of us dislike uninvited telephone sales calls to our homes.

I signed up to the telephone preference service (TPS) to ensure that I didn’t get these calls, and I’m pleased that they’ve dried up…mostly. I say mostly, as I got a call last week from a company called Nationwide Energy Service, the saleslady was very insistent that this wasn’t a sales call, that they had a government grant that I could use, and all it would cost me was £99.

Of all the sales calls I have ever had the misfortune to receive, this was probably the most pushy, slick and well-worked of them all. The saleslady had every objection covered, had the ability to talk without breathing, spoke at 100 words a minute, it was like being hit by a sledgehammer.

The irony of it was that the product she was selling, loft insulation, I had already decided that I needed to sort this summer for our home. However, her attitude was so aggressive that there is no way I am going to buy it from them. So I’ve decided to incur this company as much time & cost as I can, knowing they will not get a penny from me. I let their surveyor come round, measure up, quote, and I’m now waiting for the follow up sales confirmation call, which I will say not yet, please call me back in 2 weeks, when I will ask them to call later…you get the picture.  I’ve also reported them to the TPS.

This lot really bugged me, I think because the sales lady really knew how to work the call,

So memo to self….

  • I have a right not to say yes there and then, I can take my time and decide.
  • Someone else’s pressure is their pressure, let them keep it.
  • If someone makes a request, the default position is no, it is much easier to change a “no” to a “yes”, than it is to get out of something.
  • You have a right to be undecided, that’s not a untenable position.
  • I have a right to find out more information and alternatives.
  • I have a right not to be bothered by these people.

So if these guys call you, do yourself a favour and just put the phone straight down.

And if you’re Ashleigh from the Nationwide Energy Service, change your practices now, they are deceitful.

And if you’re the saleslady that called me, then please, please, please, go and find a good use for your quite obvious phone talents…go and join Compassion or World Vision, but stop doing what you’re doing.

The scariest comment for booksellers that I have ever heard….

Last weekend I was attending my first study weekend for an MBA course that I have just started. In amongst the teaching, case studies and introductions was a session with the librarian, who took us through how to use the Stirling University Library facilities. Being a distance learning course, he focussed on how we could access the libraries online books, and with a throw away comment,  he added….

“As as University we buy nearly a million pounds worth of books, journals and reference works each year, and we try and and buy as few actual physical books as possible, we aim to get as many as we can as e-books”.

Most of the other students smiled and nodded, but I sat there as if the world had stopped around me and thought, “my world of bookselling has truly changed irrevocably”.

The implications of this quite logical step for the university are profound. Not only are they not buying physical books, which undermines the logistics of a viable booktrade, they are training a generation to read in ways which will change the face of bookselling. This e-learning generation will learn to default to ipads, kindles & netbooks as their preferred reading method. I’m not saying they won’t read physical books, and that won’t buy the physical books from bricks’n’mortar stores, but I believe that the nature of books and bookselling is changing more rapidly than we ever thought it would or could. As an aside, this is as scary for internet retailers as physical stores, because their primary purpose is to move actual rather than digital product.

As an avid user of the internet, I’ve always known, deep down, how this will change bookselling, but the starkness and reality hit me hard in that simple throwaway comment.

Bookstores will have to be simply exceptional to thrive, they will have to offer their customers an experience they enjoy so much, that they will choose to forgo the ease and price of online reading. This “being exceptional” will be different for different retailers, but will probably include a surprising breadth & depth of stock, being a specialist store, have deep community and customer relationships with loyalty schemes, a local distinctive, and a staff that are totally passionate about their store and the books they sell. These will be the basics, with other things like coffee, college bookstores, and new expressions of bookselling, having seen a really busy little bookshop in a market hall today,

and a mobile bookshop in my own town,  so I believe new types of bookshops will appear.

So what is important to the book trade now is “content” and “the customer”, because the rest of the book supply chain is imploding.

and yes, I will still be buying an ipad this week.

Back to school

After a real tough year in 2009, I’ve decided that I needed to take another approach to my work life. Having worked from the day I left school, started my own business, and worked my way up in other companies, I need, at this stage of life, to do something different.

So I’m going back to school. I’m going to do an MBA

It’s based at the University of Stirling and is the MBA in Retailing course.

I’m as excited about this course as it will be intellectually stimulating, fun & different to anything I’ve done before…. and a huge thanks and kudos to my new employers for supporting me in this.

It will take over 2 years, a shed load of time, commitment and hard work, and covers key areas.

• Managing the Strategic Environment

•Retail Management Context

• Managing Finance

• Managing the Supply Chain

• Managing People

• Retail Marketing

• Retail Buying and Merchandising

• Managing Change

So this weekend we have our first study weekend,

I can’t believe how much I am looking forward to this, a really great new chapter in my life.