Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
Well, Bob, if turns could actually be bought, and the brand of turns I had for sale were proprietary and unique in some way, and available only from me, then I think your analogy would be quite appropriate. But clearly, there are important differences between selling a proprietary product that all someone has to do is hand over a credit card for, and helping someone learn to ski. Yes, there are similarities too.
Let's say you have a variety of products and services you can sell--maybe even a variety of brands for each product. Or let's say you're the owner of a large department store. If someone comes up to you and says "what have you got to sell me?" I'm SURE your response would be, "What do you want?"
Very good responses but also somewhat telling.
I do, absolutely, believe that turns can be bought. If you're my ski instructor (and I'm actually engaging you because I want to learn and not just cuz I want a skiing companion or a way to cut liftlines) you really are selling me your ski advice, expertise, analysis ability, experience, and, yes, even reputation. I'm paying you money, you're providing a service, and I'm expecting something - better turns - in return. If turns can't be "bought" through ski instruction, then why in the world does ski instruction even exist?
Second point, I think, goes directly to the heart of Si's question. You say what you have for sale is not proprietary. I disagree completely and I think that's exactly what Si is trying to get at. Your ski instruction is perceived throughout the United States as MORE valuable than the ski instruction an average skier might get from an average ski instructor PRECISELY because of the skill and experience you possess. If that isn't proprietary, as well as the basis for a "brand", I don't know what is. What is ESA but a proprietary brand of ski instruction?
I think that Si is trying to figure out a better way to determine up front, before his money has passed from him to the Ski School, who would be the best instructor for him. He wants to try to make that judgement based on his knowledge of his ski situation, combined with input from some possible instructor "candidates", before he pays.
I find that desire to be extremely logical.
Going back to my sales experience, you speculated about what I might do if I had a whole variety of products available. For much of my sales career, I sold integrated communications networks to multinational corporations. There are literally thousands of ways to configure voice, data, and internet connections to accomplish what a company might want or need. Yes, I had to ask endless questions about where the customer was, where they wanted to go, and how fast they wanted to get there. At the same time, however, the customer was judging my ability and my company's ability to meet their needs. I was being auditioned or interviewed every step of the way before the customer made the decision to go with me rather than some other choice.
The customer evaluated my skills to determine whether I was a good fit for their culture and goals.
To me, that's all Si is asking for, although maybe he could have asked in a slightly more diplomatic way.