How Would I Sell A Brick?


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Well, I created a lot of discussion about OgilvyOne’s contest to find the world’s greatest sales person in my post .  We’ve started a great discussion about professionalism in sales.

But the competitor in me has been whispering in my ear, “How would you sell a brick?”  I’ve been thinking about it, using all my sales professionalism.   There’s something about sales people wanting to step up to every challenge.

Let’s see, I’ve got to target a certain customer set (segmentation), within that customers set I have to find a customer with a compelling need to buy (prospecting and qualifying), I’ve got to understand that customer’s needs, then I’ve got to present my solution and compelling value proposition. 

I know all this stuff, so how would I sell a brick?  Focus is important, so I’ve decided on three target markets:  Civil Disobedience, Disaster Preparation/Relief, and Empowering Those To A Quicker, More Certain End.

Civil Disobedience:  I went to college at Berkeley in the mid 70’s (I think I’ve managed to suppress those pictures of me with a ponytail).  In the spring, we’d always find some reason to protest and riot.  None of us knew the mission, but we would be swept up with the crowd, and their enthusiasm.  Prying up those chunks of concrete and asphalt to throw or build blockades was really a pain–it dampened our enthusiasm, we’d give up and drink beer.

That experience has made me realize I have a terrific solution for the Civil Disobedience market.  Think of it, we have customers with a high sense of urgency, a real need to buy.  We have a compelling solution and value proposition—save your finger nails, save the hassle, just buy my brick.  Our value proposition is extended by the immediacy of supply–give me a few dollars, I’ll give you a brick.  Given the level of emotion, the sense of the moment and urgency, I don’t think this would be put out to tender, so until other brick vendors come into my market, I can probably keep premium margins and avoid discounting.

I’ve even gotten the beer argument solved—yes you’ll take some time to try to pry up asphalt, you will get frustrated but keep trying, eventually you give up and drink beer.  I can shorten your cycle time by at least 50%, buy my brick, throw it, drink beer—which reminds me, I need to modify my product portfolio and make sure I have a good supply of Rolling Rock or PBR to sell as well.

Disaster Preparation and Relief:  We’ve seen a number of tragedies recently–Haiti, Chile.  We remember New Orleans.  And more compelling than anything, we remember the story of Red Riding Hood and The Three Pigs.  That one pig was prepared, and the secret was in one word:  Bricks!  Need I say more, the value of my bricks is obvious,  now where’s that order form?

Empowering Those To A Quick/More Certain End:  I cheated on this one, Christopher Ryan was the inspiration for targeting this market in his comment on my aforementioned post.  Some of you may find this a little distasteful, but we know there are those who are trying to put a quick end to their lives by jumping off a bridge or building.  Often, they are clumsy, screw it up and end up with a simple splat.  It is a market, I haven’t done the sizing yet, and the targeting may be a bit of a challenge.  But the beauty of this market is it is a true solution or system sell.  See if I just sold them a brick, they would hold it when they jumped, but they might drop it in their fright (we prefer to call it buyer’s remorse).  I wanted to come up with a better solution and pursue a larger revenue, and margin opportunity.

My concept is to sell a total solution, the rope or chain, and a bunch of bricks.  We’d tie a whole bunch of bricks together (This creates a particularly great value proposition when jumping off things like the Golden Gate Bridge.)  We’d need a rope or chain to tie those together.  We can create even more value and differentiation by further enabling the customer to tie the rope or chain around themselves, ensuring they don’t drop the ball (so to speak) when they jump.  Now we’ve gone beyond a simple brick, we have sold a complete solution, again, I think with a compelling value proposition.  Even though the market may be smaller and harder to find, the vastly superior revenue per transaction and margins might make this a real money maker.

Well, I’ve got my ideas sorted out, where’s my video camera, got to pitch my solution!

Anyone with other ideas?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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