That Way Won't Work Anymore - Christine Kane

Last week, I spoke at the Carolina Connect Conference. It was an all-day event for large and small businesses in Western North Carolina. Guy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker. (Not surprisingly, he was great.) My own talk was called, “You Get the Idea: How to Kick Start Your Creativity & Become an Idea Magnet.”

After I spoke, several people approached me. One was a salesman from a national corporation. He told me he was surprised by what I said in the presentation, and that my ideas about creativity and idea generation were different from everything he knew about sales. He said, “A lot of what you said is based on the idea of trust.” He went on to say that in sales, he had always been taught to instill distrust in his prospective clients. “Distrust and fear,” he said. “Make them distrustful of the competition and scared of what will happen to them if they won’t use your product.” He cited manipulative tactics to further make this model work. To his credit, he was trying to make sense of it all, and asking good questions.

So, today, if I had that salesman’s email address, I’d refer him to this post.

Then, I’d say this to him: This is why trust works better than fear. Maybe the blogger who wrote this post has a few hundred readers. (Maybe more. Maybe less. I don’t know.) Maybe 15 of them get introduced to Zappos because of what she wrote. Maybe that’s not a big deal in the world of a huge corporation like yours. But it’s exactly what Zappos has relied upon to become a big deal on the internet.

Then, three months later, Seth Godin writes about it – and now you start to see why it’s called Viral Marketing. Then many of Seth’s readers write about it – like me. You see the power of the internet. You see the power of trust. This doesn’t mean businesses have to run around delivering flowers to all their customers. But it does mean that Zappos didn’t have to run around telling people that PayLess sucks and that customers shouldn’t trust them at all. Or worse, that we should fear the shoes at PayLess. No. One person at a big internet shoe company was present enough and creative enough (and given permission) to connect and make a customer happy. For no reason. And it just ended up creating a buzz. Not a fake buzz. Not a marketing generated buzz.

This is creativity. This is courage.

  • Christine Kane

    hi chickiepam – yes, it is the little things. i can’t tell you how many times a flight attendant has made my day because she did one little extra thing for me, a weary traveler!

    thanks kerri!

    annie – that’s a great little story. i think it comes down to dealing with people who like their work and feel respected in their jobs. they can then pass the good along to their clients.

    aw bob – that’s so kind. thanks. (but you know we still have to maintain our facade of giving each other all kinds of crap in public.)

    can’t wait to read your post corrine!

  • Corinne Edwards

    You are right, Christine. The old way of high pressure sales does not do it. People are too savvy and suspicious of it.

    I am constructing a sales course on my blog. It is not new age – it is the new wave.

    The first article is

    It is a true story of my son Paul who went from a complete failure as a salesman to a top producer in his company.

    Something to consider.



  • Bob

    You never stop impressing me you have grown so much in the short time I have known you. YOU are a gift to the world, I am honored to call you my friend.

  • Annie Walker

    I’ve long believed that the trick isn’t “customer satisfaction”. I mean, what does “satisfied” mean? It means that your basic need has been met, and that’s about it.

    I love the concept of not being content with “satisfied customers”, but by trying to make people into “raving fans” (the title of a really good book on the subject, too…).

    So often it takes just a little thought to transform someone’s day. I got a key cut for my son yesterday – it’s his first house key, I was kind of excited about it and I shared that with the locksmith. As a consequence, he found a really cool camo-print key for my son, smiled and told me how much I’d brightened his day because the previous customer had been grouchy. I smiled back and felt good all day because I’d made someone happy with a story and a grin.

    Win-win. 🙂

  • Kerri

    Just rec’d my winter boots from zappos… love their tag line – “powered by service.”

    thanks for another great post, Christine!

  • ChickiePam

    Hi Christine,
    That was a really sweet thing that Zappos did. I’d buy their shoes if I had something other than size 3 children’s feet! It really does not take a lot of time or effort to do a nice thing. Here’s an example.

    I had a day of blunders and yucky emotions and junk. I even forgot to pick up my daughter from school. It WAS a noon dismissal day. She called me, but I was not happy that I had forgotten and that they charged me $12 because I was 15 minutes late in picking her up. As I drove around taking care of my errands, (I was using my spare keys, because I couldn’t find my keys!) people pulled out in front of me, I didn’t have a key to make one stop, and I discovered that I wrote a check on the wrong bank account. At the end of the day, I went to the farmer’s market to pick up an order from a vendor. When the order was complete, he tucked in “something extra for your dinner tonight” and gave me a big smile. Now, I had been listening to Abraham-Hicks CD’s all day and talking to myself and working pretty hard to shift what was going on in my world right then. I even sang my gratitudes. Nothing. And then I was smiled at and everything shifted for me. Thank you vendor.

    Sometimes it is the little things.


  • Christine Kane

    thanks jules! i can imagine it’s a very cool company to work for.

  • Jules

    My husband works for Zappos, and you have no idea the pride that I have for him working there. The employees are treated so well, so it’s no doubt they will pass that great feeling onto their customers.