Sunday, January 30, 2011

Death of a sales call: A volunteer sells ads

My local GMO puts out an annual Omnibus listing shows, clinics, and activities. Of course it's partly funded by ads. I offered to help the person saddled with the tasks of securing ads, and I set a goal for myself of contacting 25 new businesses for new ads. So far I have ad commitments for $350, but I need to make ten more contacts. Yesterday I took the day off and burned through a 1/2 tank of gas, driving to various tack shops and farm supply stores to meet with proprietors. It was fun, and mostly rewarding, but at times baffling. Responses were all over the board:

  • Guy at the hardware store: "Hey, we can help each other!" Bought a half-page ad and asked me a lot of questions about what happened to Barbaro.
  • The lady at the farm supply store was stony-faced, and I thought it was a lost cause. I gave her time to "think about it" and later that day she left a message committing to a full page ad.
  • One local seamstress purchased a small ad but offered to make pearl-studded custom stock ties for the upper level riders on our adult team.
  • Pete at Cotner trailer -- what a nice guy. He made me feel as if my visit genuinely made his day. Guess who I'm buying my trailer from when that lottery ticket comes through?
 My one bad experience
One tack shop manager, forever nameless, had been hit up for ads and donations one too many times. I introduce myself and start my little spiel.
Manager: [Exasperated, she motions at me and speaks to her staff] "She's the THIRD person today asking me for donations." 
Me: "Well I'm not asking for a donation, I'm selling an ad in our Omnibus. And it's not expensive. A business card ad is only..."
Manager: [cuts me off] "How many exhibitors?" 
Me: "What? Oh. It's not a show, it's our omnibus of shows. We make about 450 copies of the Omnibus and distribute it around the region." [Offer her a copy of the Omnibus]
Manager: "Well, I've never heard of you or your organization."
 I started asking her if it was unusual to have so many donation requests. It was. I left stuff with her and she said she'd think about it. Tack shops sound like fun places to work, but my guess is, not always.


  1. Okay -- I can see getting exasperated with requests for ads and/or donations with the economy on the skids. But that doesn't mean you have to be rude about it.

    My favorite tack store story is the owner (offspring of a long-established western wear & tack store who opened her own English tack store) so busy gossiping with a customer that she ignored me at the counter. I walked out without buying the item and never went back.

    Good luck with your ad sales quota!

  2. How lovely of the seamstress to make stock ties! Could be a wise business move too as she may generate some new customers. I'm sure she probably doesn't have a ton of spare money to buy a bigger ad, so the little one is perfect, especially if she gets credit for the custom ties in the team competition program.

    Tack stores get "hit" all the time for donations. Our local store, Rick's, has been really generous over the years. I think the Girl Scouts are using one of his NJ stores as a cookie selling headquarters too. But, I'd have to think there'd be a bottom to the well somewhere along the way.

    I think you did really well getting the ads you did. I am impressed.

  3. LOL at the hardware store guy. I'm sure you were secretly thinking "Where have you BEEN for the past few years?"


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