Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Northumberland CFDC presentation – “Breaking through Sales Barriers” - by Murray Lincoln

These BLOGS are sponsored by my businesses.                                 
Misty Hollow Carvingwas launched in October 2008
Misty Hollow Digital Images were launched on September 26, 2012.
“Crop Circles’ Web Site” where all my images are available.                                 
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Murray Lincoln’s approach to the Northumberland CFDC presentation – “Breaking through Sales Barriers”
So you are thinking of starting a business?  Hmmm?  What could I do to help you launch and then start to grow the business?  These thoughts rolled around in me as I set out on a journey to make Misty Hollow Carving go from a dream to a reality and then a genuine business that needs constant care.
I thought maybe outlining some of the simple steps that I have taken over these past 6 years may be a help to you.
Misty Hollow Carving was launched in November 2008.  Unemployment arrived for me in June 2008 after 35 years of working – 10 months before my 65th Birthday.
Misty Hollow’s potential customer base was thought to be about 1000 in November 2008.  This however dwindled quickly when the EI removed me from the direct contact with the 1000.  A year later the reality was that 1000 had shrunk to 200 as their worlds and mine separated with little contact.
Today Misty Hollow is alive and so am I.
A legitimate question was asked of me by the folk at Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).  I was asked to answer this at a presentation to small business owners.  Question “No one likes to be ‘manipulated’ or given a sales job. How can I confidently approach prospective clients when I know they would rather be left alone?”
·         Catch Fire, be excited about what you have; keep excited about what you do. Everyone is drawn to a Fire… few people stop to look at a pile of ashes.  (If you can’t catch the Fire, hire someone who can.)
·         Sales are like fishing – sometimes the fish are hungry and other times they are not.  When fishing you need to realize that a change in the weather (low to high pressure, high to low pressure) fish will not bite.  In fact it could take 3 days for fish to adjust to the weather change.  Recession and certain times of the year are my best examples of a change in the business weather map.  It is not “Recession” everywhere.
·         Knowing what my customer is personally going through is my advantage – Listen to them – Know them.
·         Two Fortune Cookies that I received after a recent meal…1.) You can make it happen. 2.) Everyone is in love with you.
Beginning with the suggestions by “good people” around me (including other Wood Carvers), I was told that “You can’t do that.” “It will never work.”  “I can’t see anyone ever buying an old piece of carved wood.”  “I could never sell something like that.”  “Good LUCK!”
I started by carving faces for Teddy Bears.  After doing a brain surgery, a double eye-ectomy and a nose-ectomy – I place his old eyes in the new face.  As a cartoonist and artist faces of all kinds appeared and Teddy Bears sold like hot cakes. People who would normally only shop at trade shows, were astounded by this new idea.  They even started buying for themselves and their family members – even after the Recession hit.
My income in the first four months was higher than it was than it was when I was working full time with a guaranteed salary.
The Teddy Bear market slowed. I bought an old mahogany door frame from Habitat for Humanity for $5.00. I started carving Love Spoons (Celtic Love Spoons) for Wedding Presents, Anniversary Presents and special gifts.  One side of the Door Frame turned into about $1300.
People still attend weddings and buy the couple gifts.  Buying a hand carved Love Spoon is less than buying a blender or toaster – and better!
The second question…
2.  How do I approach/respond to clients when they are unresponsive or not interested or are satisfied with their current supplier?
·         When fishing, the kind of bait matters.  If the bait is not the right kind – you need to change it.  A Northern Pike will bite just about anything if it moves just a little. Trout are skittish and only bite what they want… not what the fisherman thinks they should bite.  Change the Bait. A different product for this customer may be better than what you are trying to sell.  Know the Bait and how to handle it.
·         The spot that you fish in is important.  If they are not responding – not biting here… pull the anchor move the Boat.  A different place and a new school of fish will yield results.
·         Get a bigger bait.  Sometimes we are stuck doing what we always have done.  Doing the same thing that has not yielded a result over again will in all likelihood, yield the same results.  In one fishing spot I was using what I thought was a good sized bait, but there were only small bites.  A scuba diver surfaced out in front of me and asked me what kind of bait I was using.  I showed him and he laughed.  “That is not big enough...” he said, “Under me the fish are four to five feet long!” then he swam away.  I changed the bait and caught a whopper.
·         At times I may need to “chum the water” – do something that will bring the fish to where I am.  I know one fisherman that puts canned corn near the place where he wants to catch the Trout. Right or wrong – it worked.
·         Another Fortune Cookie …1.) Your unique talents help you achieve many goals
The Teddy Bear market was growing slowly. The Celtic Spoon market was also steady… but the wedding season was over. I needed something new.
While sitting in the theatre with my Grandkids, watching the last Harry Potter movie, it was just fun. Towards the end of the Movie, Harry and Voldemort had just had it out… Harry won.  With the win Harry now had the Elder Wand in his hand – the most powerful Wand of all.  Harry and his friend were on the long bridge and after some conversation Harry broke the Wand in half and threw it over the side.  I turned to my Grandson beside me and said, “I am going to carve a Wand!”  He giggled and within two days I had carved the Elder Wand.  Within two weeks I had carved all he Wands.
Bingo!  The market fell in my lap so to speak.  Families with 10 to 14 year old kids will coming running to see their son or daughter alive and well at my Show Table. The 10 to 14 didn’t want to come along that day – but the Wand chose the person again.  Young Adults with lots of disposable income, ages 20 something to 40 something buy Wands.  And funny as it seems – the other end of the market is 60 to 65 year old Grandmothers that went to the show or borrowed their grandchild’s books and got hooked. Three distinct markets were now mine. 
I tell folk you can buy one of these Wands for $1045 at Universal Studios (made of plastic) or one from Misty Hollow at a mere $45.
Question Number 3….
3.  How do I sell when I’m just starting out and have no sample, evidence or track record? (This translates into lack of confidence.)
·         Start fishing with what you have… a desire to catch fish and your present equipment – perhaps an old pole, a simple line and some bait is about all you need.
·         Get into the boat and push off from the shore – get out where the fish are.
·         When you are ready try something new.  The day the old man introduced me to a “worm blower”, I could not believe it.  He was using a cattle syringe for injections. Inserting it into the worm and filling the worm with air… made it buoyant, floating just a little above the bottom where the big fish were.  I changed to something I never heard of before – and did I catch Pickerel – WOW!
·         A fish doesn’t know if you have a B.A., M.A. or a PhD.  They only know that what you present is attractive or not.  Get your line in the water and fish.
·         I am on Fire when I realize that there is just nothing like Fishing!
·         Still more Fortune Cookies …1.) Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed. 2.) You will find a golden egg this week.

One day a fellow entrepreneur told me that she couldn’t get any more “Fairy Doors” from her supplier.  She asked me if I had ever carved a Fairy Door.  The answer was, “No, but let me look into it.”
I studied the Fairy Market and was blown away by what is happening in this area of the Market place world-wide.  Fairies are a big deal and going be even bigger very soon.
Working with another business as a special artist of a weekend, I brought my Fairy products that I had developed. Through that one meeting and a connection made, it appears that we will be having our areas fist Fairy Happening on the edge of the Ganaraska Forrest this next summer. As well there will be a Peterborough, Buckhorn and Bobcaygeon Fairy Happenings and installations.
Today by using numerous Internet contacts, i.e. Web Pages, Blogs, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Linked In, On-Line Discussion Groups, Shows and Personal Appearances – plus whatever Social Media is available… contacts are perhaps at 800,000+ worldwide in Misty Hollow’s 6th year.  One of my Blogs averages 250 to 500 visits per day – average a month at 6,000 to 10,000 (Pagesviews all time history 272,952 March 3, 2014) – feeding out to a Facebook presence, Linked In and the Web Pages.
Sales are seasonal and steady.  Development of new products takes place in down times/slow times.
Misty Hollow Carving (and many other aspects) is a work in progress that is growing. Not making Million$ yet but in comparison to other Wood Carving businesses it is ahead – way ahead. The Chinese friends of mine in China have made contact and suggested that they could help me with “product production” to increase my sales.  At the present time I am teaching another man to carve the products that Misty Hollow is known for – with the intent that he will have has own wood carving business in the next months.
Finally… I carved six, new love spoons.  Took a photo and placed it on my Misty Hollow Facebook page with a mere, 130 followers.  I went over to my Personal Facebook page and mentioned it there with the 1200 followers.  Next I wrote a story about the six new spoons on my Blog and posted 20 photos.  I clicked on my Pinterest button and did the “Pin It” thing.  Finally I checked my email before leaving the machine.
An email was waiting for me. I had sold a Love Spoon that was paid for through Pay Pal by a lady living in New York. It was shipped the next day to Ottawa, where it then flew to Australia with the groom for his wedding.
I am burning up – FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!
~ Murray Lincoln ~

For your inspection
Digital Image from Misty Hollow

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