11 Mar 2015

Ralph and I headed down to the beach the other day to celebrate Kevin’s birthday. We met up with the crew shortly after seven in the evening, and much to our dismay the birthday boy was already well on his way to needing a nap and a sandwich. Sure enough - true to form - not ninety minutes later Kevin went missing; he put himself to bed. Over the course of the next few hours, however, several more guests arrived. Each with the same eye-roll reaction to Kevin’s absenteeism. Before long the cocktail count reached the group’s tipping point for bad decisions and the next thing I knew Brendan and I were leading a parade down the beach to awaken the birthday boy.  

Brendan - a fellow Chicagoan - walks about as fast as I do. Even with a five inch heel handicap, we outpaced the crowd. So much so that we had sufficient time to stop in a liquor store, discuss and purchase a few bottles, and still beat the crew to the condo. While checking out at the liquor store, however, I noticed that many of the Tito’s bottles were wrapped in a felt bag - but not ours. Pass up a free gift? No way! I had no idea what we would do with the satchel, but I figured - worst case - it’d help sell the booze brigade as birthday-themed and bearing gifts. 

Kevin took our arrival pretty well; he had slept long enough to rally. While everyone gathered in the kitchen to shoot a shot, Ralph inquired about the bag. Brendan immediately tried to position me as an idiot for being excited about promotional shit, but Ralph wouldn’t have it - he knows this kind of randomness usually pays off in a party. The crowd stood around for another twenty minutes or so before Kevin announced our return to the bar. When I went back to the kitchen to grab my shoes, I found Ralph and Leon huddled by the counter fiendishly pouring Corn Pops into the Tito’s bag like a couple of kids taking advantage of an abandoned bowl of candy on Halloween - with no regard for the “one per person” sign. I hope Kevin didn’t want cereal for breakfast!

As we trucked back up the beach I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of Ralph shoveling cereal into his face and down his shirt. The scene also made me think about non-standard use cases. Should we toss in extra features for free (when available) just in case clients can find a use for them in the future? Or does doing so set us up for trouble later? 

Generally speaking I think ‘you never know’ features are a bad idea. Even now, I’m the owner of a bag we don’t need or really want, but that will probably take us another month to throw away. While the snag did provide for hilarity in the moment, it takes a special kind of mind to find a worthy use case or surplurfrous features. Most people would have just left it on Kevin’s counter, and I’d argue that most customers will do the same. Just like a cluttered kitchen - long term - a crowded solution seems less valuable than a streamlined one. 

So this week, stick to the basics. When you reserve the antics for your acquaintances, the freebies for your friends, and the core solution for your clients - you’ll maintain the positivity in each of your respective relationships. A focused feature set begets a quick close. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:46
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

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