My Direct Mail Vacuum Cleaner Ad.

38 replies
This is a full page (8 1/2 X 11") Town Money Saver Ad that went to 25,000 people last Thursday. So far, 6 vacuums were sold at $489. Everything in the ad is true.

I don't know how to post the actual ad, so I'm posting the copy I gave the rep. Enjoy.
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"Local Retailer Mistake Causes Opportunity To Buy $900 Top Of The Line American Made Vacuum Cleaner For Less Than Half Price"

I'm Claude Whitacre... My wife Cheryl and I own The Sweeper Store. Here's the story.
My best selling and best made brand of vacuum cleaners is made In America...St. James Missouri, to be exact.....They have about 35 individual models...priced from $279 to $1,599. We sell them all. Riccar doesn't make cheap or bad vacuum cleaners. They only make better quality vacuums.

Last month, my wife insisted on moving around our store room in the back of the store. About once a year, she gets the "I want to rearrange things" bug...and this was one of those. I'm smarter than I look, so I agreed to the job.

In the corner...in fresh clean boxes...were 17 Riccar Upright vacuum cleaners...the Riccar Brilliance Premium...model BRLP...that we sold to hundreds of local customers...for $899. One of our best vacuums. But now, these are a few years old, but still in the box.

I contacted Riccar in Saint James Missouri and asked them about the vacuum cleaners. Could I still honor the original 5 year factory warranty? They said I could. These are brand new, never out of the box vacuum cleaners that just got stuck in storage for 3 or 4 years. They are new.

Here are some of the features; A steel brush roll that will easily pick up any pet hair., Two motors..one that creates the suction...one that spins the brush roll...and two switches to operate the motors independently. 34 foot cord, Lifetime belt that will never break, slip, or get stretched. Automatic height adjustment. Pushes easily on just about any kind of carpet or linoleum, tile, or hardwood floors. Seven stage sealed HEPA filter and charcoal filter on exhaust, and a HEPA filter bag that never leaks dust or allergens.
The company calls the color "Deep Sapphire", but it just looks blue to me.
Go online and check Consumer Report, Consumer's Guide, and Consumer Digest. There are plenty of consumer product review sites as well. You'll see, these are great machines that people love owning.

This is not a joke, a come on, or a bait and switch ad. When I wrote this, I had 15 in stock. When you read this, I'll probably have less. Once they are gone, they are gone. The company has since stopped making these machines, and has changed the color and a few smaller features. And they are now $999.

Everything I've said here is accurate and true. If we are out of them when you show up, I cannot order more in. Riccar (the company) sets the prices of new machines. The only reason I can offer this liquidation price, is that I found some stock that is a few years old. And even though I could sell these for $899, and nobody would know the difference...it doesn't seem right. These are not "scratch & dent" models. These are not "demonstrators". They are brand new out of the box. I'll even assemble it for you while you wait. It only takes a minute or two.

No, we won't deliver. There are no refunds or exchanges at this price.
You don't need a coupon. We are selling these new machines..first come first serve...for $489 each.
The Sweeper Store 2799 Cleveland Rd. Wooster Ohio 44691 330-345-2111

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Unfortunately, the ad already ran, and I'm not repeating it. But I just wanted to share the ad to give some ideas.
#cleaner #direct #mail #vacuum
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  • Profile picture of the author Sebulba
    Hello Claude,

    I like these long format info/ads. They are very interesting to me.

    Seb
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  • Profile picture of the author pauloadaoag
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    Good stuff as always. Just curious though, how wide was the distribution of the ad?
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  • Did the 6 who bought call first or just showed up at your door?
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    Claude,

    I remember reading one of your posts about buying used vacuums from a guy who showed up every once in a while with a trailer full of them. Do you run ads to sell the used vacuums?
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  • Originally Posted by pauloadaoag View Post

    Good stuff as always. Just curious though, how wide was the distribution of the ad?
    25,000 coupon magazines mailed locally.

    Originally Posted by AmericanMuscleTA View Post

    Did the 6 who bought call first or just showed up at your door?
    I think all of them called me first.

    Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

    Claude,

    I remember reading one of your posts about buying used vacuums from a guy who showed up every once in a while with a trailer full of them. Do you run ads to sell the used vacuums?
    We no longer buy used vacuum cleaners to resell.

    About the response to the ad. We actually got about 25-30 calls so far. About 75% of the calls were asking how many we had left, if we would take less money, or if we would take trade ins. A few calls asked us if we would take back a vacuum someone bought earlier, so they could buy this one. The answer was no.

    A couple people asked if I would take monthly payments. The answer was no.

    Two people who came in to buy changed their minds and didn't buy. And I know why...They were in "I'm getting a bargain "mode, and I was showing them the vacuum cleaner in "selling" mode.

    The last several people that called, I told them that I only had 3 left. I have more than that, but the people need to feel like they are almost too late, and there is a feeding frenzy.

    After the end of this month, I'm just going to raise the price back up to $899 on any I have left.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      A couple people asked if I would take monthly payments. The answer was no.
      Seriously? You don't work with any finance companies?

      Why not?

      You lost two sales for nothing assuming they qualified for financing.

      I bought about $3,000 in furniture a while back, had cash in pocket, still financed it for 6 months because it was no interest on the payments If payed in full before the 6 months was up.

      If it was me, I'd be financing and use that as part of the advertising. You get payed upfront, what do you care If they stop making payments?

      That $500 vacuum would be about $50 with 12 month financing. $50! Anyone can afford that. So now there's no sticker shock in the advertising. Vacuums as low as $50 per month* (example with financing). That $50 alone will get people in the door.

      You could upsell more with financing, most folks max that stuff out just because they can. I mean If you're selling a financed vacuum at $500 and the buyer qualifies for $1,500 in credit, shoot, that's potential for an extra $1,000 in additional sales right there.

      Now instead of buying the $500 vacuum they found advertised, they qualify for the super duper deluxe model that just happen to also be on sale at $1,499.

      Easy payments.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by yukon View Post

        Seriously? You don't work with any finance companies?

        Why not?

        You lost two sales for nothing assuming they qualified for financing.

        I bought about $3,000 in furniture a while back, had cash in pocket, still financed it for 6 months because it was no interest on the payments If payed in full before the 6 months was up.

        If it was me, I'd be financing and use that as part of the advertising. You get payed upfront, what do you care If they stop making payments?

        That $500 vacuum would be about $50 with 12 month financing. $50! Anyone can afford that. So now there's no sticker shock in the advertising. Vacuums as low as $50 per month* (example with financing). That $50 alone will get people in the door.

        You could upsell more with financing, most folks max that stuff out just because they can. I mean If you're selling a financed vacuum at $500 and the buyer qualifies for $1,500 in credit, shoot, that's potential for an extra $1,000 in additional sales right there.

        Now instead of buying the $500 vacuum they found advertised, they qualify for the super duper deluxe model that just happen to also be on sale at $1,499.

        Easy payments.
        Intelligent question, argued well..

        When I used to sell in people's homes, nearly every vacuum cleaner sale was financed.

        And the first several years I had this store, we had financing through a local finance company.

        In the last several years we have noticed the following;

        Almost nobody asks for financing here. It's partly because the cost isn't that high, and partly because nearly everyone with passable credit has at least one credit card.

        The two people who asked if we took payments, weren't asking for financing. They were asking if I would let them make payments to me...which means they have bad credit, and would almost certainly not pay me.

        In the last ten years we have had maybe 15-20 people ask if we had financing...or 90 Days Same As Cash.......meaning they asked if we had financing through another company.

        I would say "We have that. If I gave you a good enough reason, could you put it on a card?" The answer was always "Sure". So it ended up being less than one financed sale a year, and the finance company eventually changed their rules, and we dropped them.

        30 years ago, credit cards had low balances, and not everyone had one. Today, cards have high limits, and everyone with decent credit can get one.. Today, if you want to buy something for $500, and you can't put it on a credit card.....it almost certainly means you have bad credit, and wouldn't qualify for financing anyway. That's our actual experience.

        In 1981, when we were in a recession...and credit was really hard to get...I financed a lot of my own sales, with great results. But we ran credit checks on every sale before I would finance it. We learn from our mistakes.


        Added later; There actually is a threshold where people with good credit just want financing. years ago, that limit was about $500. Now, if we sell something for more than $1,000 we'll get more of the question "Do you have financing?" or "Do you have 90 Days Same As Cash?".

        We do offer Lay-a-way, for people on very limited incomes, without credit cards. If we sold something like furniture for $3,000...financing would be a must.
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        • Profile picture of the author yukon
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          Intelligent question, argued well..

          When I used to sell in people's homes, nearly every vacuum cleaner sale was financed.

          And the first several years I had this store, we had financing through a local finance company.

          In the last several years we have noticed the following;

          Almost nobody asks for financing here. It's partly because the cost isn't that high, and partly because nearly everyone with passable credit has at least one credit card.

          The two people who asked if we took payments, weren't asking for financing. They were asking if I would let them make payments to me...which means they have bad credit, and would almost certainly not pay me.

          In the last ten years we have had maybe 15-20 people ask if we had financing...or 90 Days Same As Cash.......meaning they asked if we had financing through another company.

          I would say "We have that. If I gave you a good enough reason, could you put it on a card?" The answer was always "Sure". So it ended up being less than one financed sale a year, and the finance company eventually changed their rules, and we dropped them.

          30 years ago, credit cards had low balances, and not everyone had one. Today, cards have high limits, and everyone with decent credit can get one.. Today, if you want to buy something for $500, and you can't put it on a credit card.....it almost certainly means you have bad credit, and wouldn't qualify for financing anyway.

          In 1981, when we were in a recession...and credit was really hard to get...I financed a lot of my own sales, with great results. But we ran credit checks on every sale before I would finance it. We learn from our mistakes.






          It doesn't matter If someone already has a credit card, they could have a dozen credit cards. This is why stores (ex: Target, Home Depot, Lowes, etc...) offer in store credit/cards at the checkout, it's an upsell.

          Remember the big news story about Target leaking personal data? All in store credit cards.



          Retail giant Target will pay an $18.5 million multistate settlement, the largest ever for a data breach, to resolve state investigations of the 2013 cyber attack that affected more than 41 million of the company's customer payment card accounts.
          Good grief, that's 41 million upsells (Target credit cards).

          My point is, I'm sure the majority was 41 million people that most likely already had additional credit cards before they signed up for an in store Target card.

          The odds of 41 million people walking into a store and don't already have a credit card a slim. They'll still take the in store card because of a bogus 5% off their current purchase. I mean seriously, marking something up 50% and selling it with a 5% discount via an in store credit card first purchase is pretty obvious. Everything in the store is already marked up for profit so the 5% in store card is no lose. Mark it up, give them a discount to get back down to the original sales price and easy payments.

          Buyers always want to feel like they're getting the upper hand.

          Don't finance anything with your own money. That's too risky.

          Find a finance business that will work with you and take on 100% of the risk/financing. Preferably one with some sort of additional selling point like 3 or 6 month no interest loans for the customer. That way you get the advantage of an extra sales tactic, same as cash and easy payments for the customer.

          You could even take it a step further, only finance your higher priced vacuums that way the customer has to upgrade If they want to buy on payments. I'd at least split test that over a few months.

          You lose nothing except some initial time for setup and could potentially gain a lot more sales.
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by yukon View Post

            You could even take it a step further, only finance your higher priced vacuums that way the customer has to upgrade If they want to buy on payments. I'd at least split test that over a few months.

            You lose nothing except some initial time for setup and could potentially gain a lot more sales.

            Thanks.
            Remember when I said that the finance company changed the rules? What they did was raise the minimum financed from $500 to $1,000. And"90 Days Same As Cash" cost us 5% of the sale. 6 months SAC cost us 8% of the sale.

            And we used that to try to upsell (from the ad they came in on) to a higher priced machine to be able to finance it.

            What we found was that the amount charged was way more important to the buyer than the fact that they could finance it.

            Although we aren't in an exclusive area, the ads we run are for the more expansive vacuums. The cheapest vacuum we advertise is $279. They are coming in expecting to pay $500 for a vacuum. And that means they have the money to pay for it, usually on a card.

            The vast majority of our customers are over 50 years old, and are homeowners with at least some money.

            There was a time that we advertised payments, "6 months SAC" and the like...it did bring in more buyers, But once we started advertising the higher priced machines, that reason to advertise financing options pretty much went away.

            Would a "Store credit card" make sales? A few more a year. I know, that's how we financed through the finance company, on a revolving charge card.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Claude,

    There's plenty of persuasion elements in the ad that get the job done. All included without hype.

    Nicely done. Thanks for sharing...

    Alex
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    • Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      Claude,

      There's plenty of persuasion elements in the ad that get the job done. All included without hype.

      Nicely done. Thanks for sharing...

      Alex
      Thank you Alex.

      When I sent in the ad, the rep brought back the ad as I wrote it, except this part....

      ----
      No, we won't deliver. There are no refunds or exchanges at this price. You don't need a coupon.
      We are selling these new machines..first come first serve...for $489 each.
      The Sweeper Store 2799 Cleveland Rd. Wooster Ohio 44691 330-345-2111
      ----------

      They really wanted my price to be large. The rep said "They need to see the price"...

      And I said "Not before they read the entire story. It isn't the price that sells it, it's the story."

      I wrote the ad as a first draft, and didn't change anything. If I were going to do it again, I'd lower the sale price for more contrast, maybe $349.

      I really really just wanted to get rid of this old inventory.

      By the way, the story is actually true, we found the machines in a store room....made the call to the Mfg.....everything exactly like in the ad.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


        When I sent in the ad, the rep brought back the ad as I wrote it, except this part....

        ----
        No, we won't deliver. There are no refunds or exchanges at this price. You don't need a coupon.
        We are selling these new machines..first come first serve...for $489 each.
        The Sweeper Store 2799 Cleveland Rd. Wooster Ohio 44691 330-345-2111
        ----------

        They really wanted my price to be large. The rep said "They need to see the price"...

        And I said "Not before they read the entire story. It isn't the price that sells it, it's the story."
        Absolutely... stories are great at dissolving a prospect's instinctive skepticism.

        Reason why selling at its best.

        I wrote the ad as a first draft, and didn't change anything. If I were going to do it again, I'd lower the sale price for more contrast, maybe $349.

        I really really just wanted to get rid of this old inventory.

        By the way, the story is actually true, we found the machines in a store room....made the call to the Mfg.....everything exactly like in the ad.

        Honesty is another good persuasion element. Joe Sugarman talked about it in his book, "Triggers".

        Maybe one day I'll post a similar (in structure) letter I wrote to help a friend sell his condo during the recent housing crisis. He got $5,000 over his asking price... :-)

        Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author animal44
          Hmmm... 0.02% response. In my book that's a failure... a huge failure...
          A good Ad would've sold them all on the first day... for full price or even a premium...
          You only need 0.06% response and they're all gone. I'd consider anything less than 1% a failure...
          Did you even make any money on this, taking into account your time fielding the calls and selling...?
          Sorry Claude, D-
          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          Maybe one day I'll post a similar (in structure) letter I wrote to help a friend sell his condo during the recent housing crisis. He got $5,000 over his asking price... :-)
          Now that's the sort of Ad that'd be impressive... Do post it...
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          • Originally Posted by animal44 View Post

            Hmmm... 0.02% response. In my book that's a failure... a huge failure...
            A good Ad would've sold them all on the first day... for full price or even a premium...
            You only need 0.06% response and they're all gone. I'd consider anything less than 1% a failure...
            Did you even make any money on this, taking into account your time fielding the calls and selling...?
            Sorry Claude, D-

            .
            No need to be sorry. You are comparing apples and oranges. These were ads placed in a coupon magazine mailed to 25,000 homes locally. These were not mailed to buyers. They weren't mailed to a joint venture list. They weren't even prospects. Probably 80% of the people that receive the coupon magazine don't even open it. My guess is that only 500-600 people actually found and read my ad.

            Take your best joint venture sales letter...now mail it to 25,000 random unqualified people. Not buyers, not customers...just random people. And stick your offer in with 25-30 offers from other companies. That's what I'm doing with this coupon magazine. The difference in response is stark. Have you ever advertised to the general public in a coupon magazine? It's a sobering experience.

            Years ago, I'd spend $300 on an ad like this and generate $30,000-$45,000 in sales. And that's at a .2% (1 in 500) response. These ads still usually bring in $8,000-$10,000 from one ad.. I know how to advertise. My purpose in this ad was simply to get rid of my inventory that I didn't want.

            I ended up selling 11 over the first week. But again, this is a free mailer (free to the consumer)...it's junk mail. And the people that read it are bargain shoppers.

            Had I sent this offer to a list of my customers, I would have had far better results. I would have expected 5% to buy. But the cost of the ad was just $300.

            And I've tested mailings in the past...300 letters mailed to my customer list (of high end buyers) generates about the same amount in sales as advertising in this coupon book (along with a few dozen other advertisers) to 25,000 completely unqualified strangers.

            Did I make money on this? Sure. Was it worth it? Sure. Although next time, I think I'd just send a sales letter to a select list of my own buyers.

            My response was about 70% of what I expected.

            Although something unexpected happened...I sold 4 high end vacuums to four ad respondents...that I didn't advertise. They came in to buy the $489 offer, and ended up buying something else. So I really sold 15 vacuums from this one ad. That's about $9,000 in sales directly from a $300 ad buy.

            And this was interesting...almost all the buyers that came in on the ad already bought a vacuum cleaner from me in the past. So, although the list was completely unqualified, the small potion of the list that bought, was actually from my customer list of buyers.

            An instructive experiment.

            Added 3/01...
            Sold three more today (off the ad) and just got a call from a guy that paid by credit card...and is picking it up tomorrow.

            So..they are all sold now. (except for one display model, that I'll probably keep for price positioning).

            $11,000 in sales from a $300 ad. Not a world record, but I'll take it.

            Added 4/5/2018.

            Strange. I'm still getting people coming in with this ad. This last week, I've sold five more high end vacuums from this ad. Not the same vacuums that are in the ad, but others that are more expensive. I still have the demonstrator model, and when they call and ask "Do you still have any of those vacuums from the ad?" I say, "Yup, one left". And I'll sell it if I have to, but so far, I sell other vacuums.

            So the ad finally sold more than I expected, it just took longer than I expected. But there is often a surge in demand when an offer is just about to expire...or just after it expires. I think that's what happened here.
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  • Profile picture of the author cearionmarie
    Good stuff! Another one to add on my strategy list!
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Nguyen
    Claude, can you take an image of the ad and then post how it looked, I'd love to see the fonts spacing etc.

    Thanks
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Michael Nguyen View Post

      Claude, can you take an image of the ad and then post how it looked, I'd love to see the fonts spacing etc.

      Thanks

      Unbelievably, I have no idea how to post that image here.
      If you PM your e-mail address, I can forward the e-mail (with the image) to you, and you can post it, if you like. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Good job Claude!

    Reminds me of a letter from Outrageous Marketing.

    Here's the link...click through the book and you'll see the letter I'm talking about.

    https://aerbook.com/books/Outrageous...sful-9618.html

    Thanks for your post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Nguyen
    Heres what it looks like:

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  • Hi Claude;

    I'm not trying to hijack your thread here, but I thought you and some of the other sales guys might find this article interesting. Sad to see these types of sales tactics going on:


    Door-to-door vacuum salesmen take pushy to a new level - StarTribune.com
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    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
      Originally Posted by mobilemarketer2012 View Post

      Hi Claude;

      I'm not trying to hijack your thread here, but I thought you and some of the other sales guys might find this article interesting. Sad to see these types of sales tactics going on:


      Door-to-door vacuum salesmen take pushy to a new level - StarTribune.com
      This is simply a wild-assed guess, on my part. I'm not claiming any inside knowledge. I haven't researched it in any credible depth or to the level of quality, that this forum demands.

      But, it is my professional opinion, that these guys are not working by referral.


      "Andy Poirier vividly remembers the night a vacuum cleaner salesman appeared at the door of his Shakopee home.

      He said the salesman, in his early 20s, spent nearly two hours demonstrating a $2,500 Kirby vacuum cleaner and ignored his requests to leave. Then, Poirier said, a supervisor showed up and told him the salesman needed one more sale to earn a reward trip.

      "Don't you feel bad?" Poirier recalls the supervisor telling him. "You just wasted this kid's entire night and you're not even going to buy anything?"

      Instead, Poirier said, he posted a no-soliciting sign and complained to police and the Better Business Bureau. "It's not an acceptable way to do business," he said.

      .....a White Bear Lake man, who complained to the BBB about an RG sales pitch and said he "nearly had to use physical force to remove these knuckleheads from my home." When they wouldn't stop their spiel after two hours, he brandished his gun.

      In response to the complaint, Gerber wrote that the salesman was never actually asked to leave -- an indication, he suggested, of interest on the part of the customer.

      "Part of our dealers' jobs are to make a friend and demonstrate the equipment," Gerber wrote. The salesman "really did his job in this house."
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post


        "Don't you feel bad?" Poirier recalls the supervisor telling him. "You just wasted this kid's entire night and you're not even going to buy anything?"

        Instead, Poirier said, he posted a no-soliciting sign and complained to police and the Better Business Bureau. "It's not an acceptable way to do business," he said.
        I have decades of experience with this type of thing. A few thoughts;

        The quote of the "supervisor" is probably true. Some of these guys are scum balls and have no idea how to sell.

        Some salespeople are taught tactics that would make normal people cringe. These people are generally poorly trained and rely on things like "I'm in a contest and just need one more sale to win a trip" and other equally degrading lies.

        On the other hand, the people that complain also lie. In their story, they are always "throwing the salesman out the door", and other lies.

        Several times in my life I've met a person that I showed a vacuum cleaner to years ago...tell me that the salesman was rude,wouldn't leave, and they had to bodily throw him out the door. They just didn't remember that it was me they were talking about.

        None of these things ever happened. I've been asked to leave..politely...twice in my life.

        I have heard the "I had to throw him out" story sooooo many times, about other salespeople...... My guess is that it rarely happened. I've trained hundreds of salespeople, and the ones that worked for me, I knew the way every appointment turned out. Out of perhaps 100,000 in home presentations, someone got mad, yelled, and threw the salesman out...once. And the idiot deserved it. I've never had a complaint to the BBB...or the police called on one of my salespeople (or me). These things aren't normal.

        Kirby salespeople are particularly poorly trained, And they hire with ads...that attract lowlifes. And they will hire ...anyone. And some people in the business are incredibly ignorant. I wish it were otherwise.

        Everyone that tells a story about a salesperson is either the Hero or the Victim in the story. Nobody is ever the asshole in their own story. And the people that are perfectly happy with their new vacuum cleaner...or didn't buy but are still happy? They just don't call the BBB or the newspaper.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          I have decades of experience with this type of thing. A few thoughts;

          The quote of the "supervisor" is probably true. Some of these guys are scum balls and have no idea how to sell.

          Some salespeople are taught tactics that would make normal people cringe. These people are generally poorly trained and rely on things like "I'm in a contest and just need one more sale to win a trip" and other equally degrading lies.

          On the other hand, the people that complain also lie. In their story, they are always "throwing the salesman out the door", and other lies.

          Several times in my life I've met a person that I showed a vacuum cleaner to years ago...tell me that the salesman was rude,wouldn't leave, and they had to bodily throw him out the door. They just didn't remember that it was me they were talking about.

          None of these things ever happened. I've been asked to leave..politely...twice in my life.

          I have heard the "I had to throw him out" story sooooo many times, about other salespeople...... My guess is that it rarely happened. I've trained hundreds of salespeople, and the ones that worked for me, I knew the way every appointment turned out. Out of perhaps 100,000 in home presentations, someone got mad, yelled, and threw the salesman out...once. And the idiot deserved it. I've never had a complaint to the BBB...or the police called on one of my salespeople (or me). These things aren't normal.

          Kirby salespeople are particularly poorly trained, And they hire with ads...that attract lowlifes. And they will hire ...anyone. And some people in the business are incredibly ignorant. I wish it were otherwise.

          Everyone that tells a story about a salesperson is either the Hero or the Victim in the story. Nobody is ever the asshole in their own story. And the people that are perfectly happy with their new vacuum cleaner...or didn't buy but are still happy? They just don't call the BBB or the newspaper.
          Well, I've sold plenty in people's homes, too. And, over many years. All without complaints to my company, the local authorities or the BBB.

          Still.....

          "Several homeowners point to representatives with Burnsville-based RG Enterprises, in particular, for arm-twisting they find annoying, confusing and downright scary.

          Savage and New Prague residents have called police after sales visits from RG representatives, officials said. Two cities -- Isanti and North St. Paul -- said enough was enough and revoked RG's sales permits."

          That right there is an indication that it was not just "the people that complain also lie". Not when you have several complaints at one time. Are all the complaining homeowners, secretly getting together and agreeing to lie about what really happened?

          "Ernster said that when one St. Paul woman asked the salespeople to leave, they responded that their time was valuable and suggested $20 as a fair price for the presentation. She forked over the money to get them to go, he said.

          Hannah Fitzmorris filed a police report about the night she said a frantic young salesman pushed past her after she opened the door to her North St. Paul home. He pulled a container from his bag and took a sip, she said, telling her that "he drinks while he does this."

          Another salesman joined him for the hourlong presentation, but Fitzmorris said neither would say how much the vacuum cleaner cost. Both asked to use her bathroom, and after they finally left she noticed a picture frame on her bedroom floor. Fitzmorris, who lives alone, said the whole incident left her feeling uncomfortable.

          Isanti Mayor George Wimmer said that RG representatives came to his home, wouldn't leave and even wedged their foot in his door so it couldn't close. The city revoked RG's sales permit in October 2016.

          ......a White Bear Lake man, who complained to the BBB about an RG sales pitch and said he "nearly had to use physical force to remove these knuckleheads from my home." When they wouldn't stop their spiel after two hours, he brandished his gun."

          Hate to tell ya, Claude...but, the homeowners aren't the "assholes" in the story

          Ron
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

            Well, I've sold plenty in people's homes, too. And, over many years. All without complaints to my company, the local authorities or the BBB.

            Still.....
            Hate to tell ya, Claude...but, the homeowners aren't the "assholes" in the story

            Ron
            I want to apologize for not making this clearer.

            I didn't mean that these complaints in particular were lies. I mean that these are typical of stories that I hear from many people, and these stories I know are not true.

            These particular stories (the ones you quoted) may be true. In fact, the first thing I said was " The quote of the "supervisor" is probably true. Some of these guys are scum balls and have no idea how to sell".

            The stories I hear may not all be true, but generally, if the customer is pissed off enough to call the BBB or call a newspaper reporter...much of their story will be true.

            And these stories tend to originate with select salespeople and select sales organizations. For example, when I sold Rainbow vacuum cleaners (for a few years)...the state of Ohio had the highest complaint rate in the US. And one distributor accounted for 99% of those complaints. There are bad apples in every business.

            For some reason, in the "in home vacuum cleaner business", the complaints come mostly from the Kirby people. The company makes a great product, but they still sell like they did in the 1950s, They run newspaper ads that attract scumbags, and these scumbags are taught by trainers that are also (usually) scumbags. Not every distributor they have is like that, but the ones that are...are tolerated.

            When people complain, it's normal to embellish the story to make themselves sound more like the victim. And it's normal for men to make themselves sound like more the hero. So we get more "I threw them out the door" than really happened.

            Like I said before, I had people tell me these stories...about me...when they didn't remember it was me that was there.

            You said "Well, I've sold plenty in people's homes, too. And, over many years. All without complaints to my company, the local authorities or the BBB.".

            Same here. Never a BBB complaint, never anything in the newspapers.

            Again, I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer.

            An interesting side note (interesting to me at least). Maybe I should mention the dozens of vacuum cleaners I lost because buyers would refuse to give them back if the financing fell through...or lied about their credit...or wrote checks that bounced...and then just kept the machines..

            I wonder what story they told their friends?
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            • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
              Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

              I want to apologize for not making this clearer.

              I didn't mean that these complaints in particular were lies. I mean that these are typical of stories that I hear from many people, and these stories I know are not true.

              These particular stories (the ones you quoted) may be true. In fact, the first thing I said was " The quote of the "supervisor" is probably true. Some of these guys are scum balls and have no idea how to sell".

              The stories I hear may not all be true, but generally, if the customer is pissed off enough to call the BBB or call a newspaper reporter...much of their story will be true.

              And these stories tend to originate with select salespeople and select sales organizations. For example, when I sold Rainbow vacuum cleaners (for a few years)...the state of Ohio had the highest complaint rate in the US. And one distributor accounted for 99% of those complaints. There are bad apples in every business.

              For some reason, in the "in home vacuum cleaner business", the complaints come mostly from the Kirby people. The company makes a great product, but they still sell like they did in the 1950s, They run newspaper ads that attract scumbags, and these scumbags are taught by trainers that are also (usually) scumbags. Not every distributor they have is like that, but the ones that are...are tolerated.

              When people complain, it's normal to embellish the story to make themselves sound more like the victim. And it's normal for men to make themselves sound like more the hero. So we get more "I threw them out the door" than really happened.

              Like I said before, I had people tell me these stories...about me...when they didn't remember it was me that was there.

              You said "Well, I've sold plenty in people's homes, too. And, over many years. All without complaints to my company, the local authorities or the BBB.".

              Same here. Never a BBB complaint, never anything in the newspapers.

              Again, I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer.

              An interesting side note (interesting to me at least). Maybe I should mention the dozens of vacuum cleaners I lost because buyers would refuse to give them back if the financing fell through...or lied about their credit...or wrote checks that bounced...and then just kept the machines..

              I wonder what story they told their friends?
              I guess we'll just have to disagree. The amount of complaints itself, indicates these people weren't fabricating, embellishing or "just telling stories, which is what you keep suggesting.

              "Throwing someone out", isn't what the article was addressing, The focus of the article is the "sales tactics" used by these so called salespeople, and their refusal to leave, when asked to leave.

              Even to the point of suggesting they should be paid $20 to leave.

              "Ernster said that when one St. Paul woman asked the salespeople to leave, they responded that their time was valuable and suggested $20 as a fair price for the presentation. She forked over the money to get them to go, he said."

              Claude, are you suggesting that the woman made the story up, just so she could file a report with the police?

              To my way of thinking, this kind of "sales activity" is WAY over the line!

              I sold to small contractors for years, right off their kitchen table. I was always welcomed and invited in. Never had anyone mention throwing someone out. Not once. So, I'm not buying, that this is somehow just a story that the homeowners are making up, so that they can call the police, to report it.

              Ron
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              • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                I guess we'll just have to disagree. The amount of complaints itself, indicates these people weren't fabricating, embellishing or "just telling stories, which is what you keep suggesting.

                Like I said before. I believe these complaints were probably true.

                Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                Claude, are you suggesting that the woman made the story up, just so she could file a report with the police?
                No. Like I have said twice now, I believe these complaints were probably true...or at least mostly true.

                Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                To my way of thinking, this kind of "sales activity" is WAY over the line!
                Yes, As I have said twice now, these people are scumbags, trained by scumbags.

                Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                I sold to small contractors for years, right off their kitchen table. I was always welcomed and invited in. Never had anyone mention throwing someone out. Not once.
                Yes, I have always been treated well myself....as I have already said.

                Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                So, I'm not buying, that this is somehow just a story that the homeowners are making up, so that they can call the police, to report it.

                Ron
                Ron, Like I have said here before, I am not saying that these people made up these stories. I am saying that I have heard similar stories, when I knew that the stories were made up. And...as I have said before, the people who call the BBB or call a newspaper (or by extension just go online to a review site) are mostly telling the truth.

                The times I hear about "throwing out the salesman" ...it's never "I threw out the saleswoman".....were nearly always from people that I wasn't talking to in their home. People (almost always men) in bars, or trying to make themselves look more macho.

                Frankly, if you start talking about selling, to non-salespeople, they go with whatever "sales story" they can think of. And if the people didn't buy....what story are they going to tell? How can they make the story more interesting...?

                Also, memories fade...the stories change over time...

                About once a month we have someone come in our store that is 100% sure they bought their vacuum cleaner from us...a brand we have never sold....or swear I gave them a "lifetime warranty" on their vacuum cleaner....or tell me that the vacuum cleaner they brought in for repair...isn't the one we returned to them.....

                A woman once told me that I sold her a Kirby vacuum cleaner in her home...and she wanted a refund. I told her I didn't sell Kirby vacuum cleaners in people's homes, and I have never met her before. Again, people's memories change, and the stories change with them....with the story being more "interesting" over time. She heard me say (to someone else) "I sell vacuum cleaners" and in her mind...I must be the same one she bought a Kirby from.

                We have a few times had people that tell me "They told me that..." and the "They" they are referring to is me...but they will insist that there is another man working in our store.

                I've had people insist that I owned a different store years ago, that they bought from....I mean they get angry that I won't agree with them.

                It may sound like I'm saying these people are everywhere...but I'm talking about way less than 1% of my experiences with customers.

                And like I said, memories change over time, stories change...and they tend to get more ...well...interesting.

                Usually these aren't completely fabricated stories. But everyone is either the hero or the victim in their story....and that changes how first person stories are remembered...and eventually how they are told. But the ones where the person immediately calls the BBB? I believe them.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    Two people who came in to buy changed their minds and didn't buy. And I know why...They were in "I'm getting a bargain "mode, and I was showing them the vacuum cleaner in "selling" mode.
    Claude, what does this mean? Could you please explain?

    Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

      Claude, what does this mean? Could you please explain?

      Thanks!

      Sure. I changed my positioning in their mind (a huge mistake). They came in thinking that they were going to get the bargain of the century...maybe I was even losing money.

      I started acting like a "Salesman", telling them the benefits, and I changed their perception of what was going on. I went from "A guy they wanted to buy from" to "A guy trying to sell them". It automatically threw up their salesman defenses. They started giving me objections to buying something...they absolutely came in to buy. A surreal experience for me.

      Because I hadn't run an ad like that before, I wasn't prepared for the psychological dynamic that they were expecting. It took two "lost" sales to get me up to speed.

      By the way, as I may have mentioned, they both actually came back later and bought from me.


      It's happened a couple of times when someone called me on the phone and asked me to deliver an expensive vacuum cleaner to their home (usually, these people are Amish)

      And I made the mistake of showing up with the vacuum cleaner...that they have already decided to buy...and start showing them the features and benefits. Now suddenly, in their mind, I was no longer delivering a vacuum cleaner, but was trying to sell one. Their natural reaction was to say "NO"...to a sale they already told me they wanted.

      I learned to stay in "Delivery guy" mode.

      Can you imagine going to a doctor..and telling him/her your problem...and they suddenly start talking about how great this medicine is...and how everyone loves it? You mighty just run out the door. Because they went from "a trusted professional giving advice" to a "salesman trying to sell something"...and a normal person has barriers..defenses..to that.

      We humans are funny creatures.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    I changed my positioning in their mind (a huge mistake). They came in thinking that they were going to get the bargain of the century...maybe I was even losing money.

    I started acting like a "Salesman", telling them the benefits, and I changed their perception of what was going on.
    In other words, when they're ready to buy, just shut up and take their money.

    Marcia Yudkin
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

      In other words, when they're ready to buy, just shut up and take their money.

      Marcia Yudkin
      Mostly. I still had to show them the vacuum cleaner...and explain how to use it...explain the warranty.......... It wasn't like buying a toaster. They couldn't just take the vacuum off the shelf and know how to use it. It was a fairly complicated machine , with several features they weren't familiar with. I had to explain...but not sell.

      I had to refrain from sounding like I was "selling". Because that would trigger defenses.

      And yes, when they're ready to buy, just shut up and take their money. Good advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    And yes, when they're ready to buy, just shut up and take their money. Good advice.
    I shouldn't take credit for that. I'm pretty sure I heard it from Dan Kennedy.

    Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author DURABLEOILCOM
    Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

    This is a full page (8 1/2 X 11") Town Money Saver Ad that went to 25,000 people last Thursday. So far, 6 vacuums were sold at $489. Everything in the ad is true.

    I don't know how to post the actual ad, so I'm posting the copy I gave the rep. Enjoy.
    ---------------------------------------------------


    "Local Retailer Mistake Causes Opportunity To Buy $900 Top Of The Line American Made Vacuum Cleaner For Less Than Half Price"

    I'm Claude Whitacre... My wife Cheryl and I own The Sweeper Store. Here's the story.
    My best selling and best made brand of vacuum cleaners is made In America...St. James Missouri, to be exact.....They have about 35 individual models...priced from $279 to $1,599. We sell them all. Riccar doesn't make cheap or bad vacuum cleaners. They only make better quality vacuums.

    Last month, my wife insisted on moving around our store room in the back of the store. About once a year, she gets the "I want to rearrange things" bug...and this was one of those. I'm smarter than I look, so I agreed to the job.

    In the corner...in fresh clean boxes...were 17 Riccar Upright vacuum cleaners...the Riccar Brilliance Premium...model BRLP...that we sold to hundreds of local customers...for $899. One of our best vacuums. But now, these are a few years old, but still in the box.

    I contacted Riccar in Saint James Missouri and asked them about the vacuum cleaners. Could I still honor the original 5 year factory warranty? They said I could. These are brand new, never out of the box vacuum cleaners that just got stuck in storage for 3 or 4 years. They are new.

    Here are some of the features; A steel brush roll that will easily pick up any pet hair., Two motors..one that creates the suction...one that spins the brush roll...and two switches to operate the motors independently. 34 foot cord, Lifetime belt that will never break, slip, or get stretched. Automatic height adjustment. Pushes easily on just about any kind of carpet or linoleum, tile, or hardwood floors. Seven stage sealed HEPA filter and charcoal filter on exhaust, and a HEPA filter bag that never leaks dust or allergens.
    The company calls the color "Deep Sapphire", but it just looks blue to me.
    Go online and check Consumer Report, Consumer's Guide, and Consumer Digest. There are plenty of consumer product review sites as well. You'll see, these are great machines that people love owning.

    This is not a joke, a come on, or a bait and switch ad. When I wrote this, I had 15 in stock. When you read this, I'll probably have less. Once they are gone, they are gone. The company has since stopped making these machines, and has changed the color and a few smaller features. And they are now $999.

    Everything I've said here is accurate and true. If we are out of them when you show up, I cannot order more in. Riccar (the company) sets the prices of new machines. The only reason I can offer this liquidation price, is that I found some stock that is a few years old. And even though I could sell these for $899, and nobody would know the difference...it doesn't seem right. These are not "scratch & dent" models. These are not "demonstrators". They are brand new out of the box. I'll even assemble it for you while you wait. It only takes a minute or two.

    No, we won't deliver. There are no refunds or exchanges at this price.
    You don't need a coupon. We are selling these new machines..first come first serve...for $489 each.
    The Sweeper Store 2799 Cleveland Rd. Wooster Ohio 44691 330-345-2111

    ----------------------------------

    Unfortunately, the ad already ran, and I'm not repeating it. But I just wanted to share the ad to give some ideas.
    Claude do you write professional advertising for other businesses if so how much would you charge? I even wanted to buy a vacuum after reading your letter.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by DURABLEOILCOM View Post

      Claude do you write professional advertising for other businesses if so how much would you charge? I even wanted to buy a vacuum after reading your letter.
      I don't write ads for other people anymore. But I wrote a book on advertising you might benefit from.

      There are a couple of copywriters her that will do a great job for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
    Claude,

    That's a nice ad. There should be more ads written in that style and tone. It's the kind of copy that Roy H. Williams (The Wizard of Ads) would write.

    But... there are just two small things I would change:

    1) I don't like the first few words of the headline. I stumbled over them when reading it. I would prefer something like:

    "A Local Retailer's Mistake Gives You The Opportunity To Buy A $900 Top Of-The-Line American Made Vacuum Cleaner For Less Than Half Price"

    2) I would have also preferred a font that made the print ad look more like a personal letter. (Maybe Courier New?)

    Other than that, it's excellent.

    John
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

      1) I don't like the first few words of the headline. I stumbled over them when reading it. I would prefer something like:

      "A Local Retailer's Mistake Gives You The Opportunity To Buy A $900 Top Of-The-Line American Made Vacuum Cleaner For Less Than Half Price"
      I get why you said that. I wanted the headline to sound more like a real headline. I wonder which headline would have pulled better? I agree that "Retailer's" is better than "Retailer".

      I agree about the font.
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  • Profile picture of the author ErinGDelgado
    Hello Claude,
    This is a great post ever. I think it helps us. keep it next time.
    Have a nice time
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  • Profile picture of the author chungcuthanhha
    thanks! pro
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