How I Sold Six Vintage Ferraris and Made $0 on the Deal

I put the phone down and wondered how the hell I had gotten into this situation.

Next, I wondered how I was going to get out of it.

My friend Eduardo had just told me his trip to Cadiz was successful: he had found a buyer who would buy our six vintage sports cars immediately.

There was only one tiny problem: We didn’t have six vintage Ferrari’s to sell.

What we had was a connection in Holland, who was trusted and who could deliver six of the beauties to us in the South of Spain.

But, we had to buy them from him first, with upfront payment.

Otherwise, nothing would get sent, not even a gas cap. Whichever buyer we would find would have to send the cash first.

That was the deal my Dutch connection wanted, and I had discussed it with Eduardo.

He however had decided to ignore this crucial bit of information.

He had told the buyer that payment would take place when the trailer truck delivered the cars.

From the start, I never had much faith in it working, but Eduardo refused to see difficulties. As long as my connection could actually deliver, he could sell.

So off he went to Cadiz, because it must be said: he was an amazing salesman. If anyone was going to be able to find a buyer, build trust and close the sale, it was him.

The problem was that his strength – relentlessly refusing to back down – was also his weakness: He was unbelievably stubborn.

He was in fact so stubborn that he closed that sale with different terms, agreeing that the cars would be paid for upon arrival.

The call I had just had was some 30 minutes of him trying (unsuccessfully) to bully me, so that I would call Holland and pressure my connection in accepting changed terms.

Obviously I didn’t relent because I knew our contact would never let the cars go without money in the bank. And I didn’t blame him, in fact I had agreed that was how it should be done.

In retrospect, I should never have had as much faith in Eduardo as I did. It was clear from the start there would be trouble.

Not because he was a bad guy, but because if someone is that stubborn, and won’t listen, it shows from the start and will be a pain in the ass until the end.

Which it did and it was.

In this case, nothing too dramatic happened. I lost some money on international phone bills, and I had invested a little time. No big deal.

The upshot of the experience: I learned that being able to deliver is more important than the ability to sell.

It also taught me to be wary of people who use hard sales tactics, but that’s a story for a different day.



P.S. Just because I don’t want to be a pushy salesman, I’m hiding my covert sales pitch in this P.S: If you want more sales, un-pushily, go here to get some of truly stellar sales copy for your site:

Don't Be Like Ryanair. Seriously

A friend of mine was telling me how she wants to start a paid meditation course.

I whipped out my marketing brain and asked my favourite question:

How are you going to sell that stuff?

Her reply:”We’ll make the core service available for free and make money with upsells”.

Books, CDs, incense, meditation mats and comfy linen clothing, that sort of thing.

On the surface it looks like a good idea but actually it isn’t.

I told her: “So you want to be Ryanair”.

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Who Are You to Know What’s Best for Others?

As if he’s asking: How do you know what’s best for me?

Let’s do a little thought experiment related to ethics and morality in marketing.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. But don’t worry: I don’t have the answers to this one so I won’t pontificate. Much.

The other day, my cat fell ill, and he rapidly got worse. Feline leukemia can exist in the body for years without causing illness, but once it does the cat won’t survive for very long.

At some point I had to decide: Have him put to sleep, or try to keep him alive a bit longer? If you think I’m cruel for wanting him to live on despite an illness – I’m not cruel.

There was no indication that he was suffering, none at all. He was skinny and he slept a lot, but he still washed, ate, drank… like any healthy cat, just more slowly.

In the end of course, his condition got so bad that there was no other choice, and the vet came round to… well you know.

It makes me wonder: As human beings, we can decide on behalf of animals. We can determine that the suffering has lasted long enough. We’re the ones who ‘know’ that ‘it’s cruel’, or ‘it’s inhumane’, or that ‘he should be put out of his misery’.

To me, it raises a moral question: How well do we really know what’s best for others?

This isn’t just about pets: It also relates to people, and specifically to business. More specifically: Marketing.

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