Sales Techniques in Family Matters – Andy Wasn’t Very Helpful When I Asked

Family Relationship Disaster

That is the message that filtered back to to me via my mother-in-law to my wife and then finally to me, 3 weeks later.

I Was Stunned

My father-in-law had been casually thinking about putting all his old family videos on SVHS onto DVD for a number of years. One tape had been professionally processed, but he didn’t like the charges, wasn’t happy with the final results, and didn’t understand the time required to edit video into something presentable.

He is highly intelligent, has run a family business for 20 years and before that he was a school director but is not very computer literate, although he can check his own email now.

Legacy of Knowledge

My late father was a “computer evangelist” more than anything in his latter years. Even his “official” obituary (Len Beard) is hosted on the home page of the computer club he was membership secretary of for 13 years, and he was also highly active in the Orpington Video and Film Makers Club, where my mother is still the secretary, and also organises the Kent Film Festival.

One of my fathers primary activities for the last 10 years of his life was as part of the team on the Computer Help Desk that his computer club provided free of charge at “Technofairs“, a travelling computer show mainly in Kent and the S.E. corner of England.

He handled membership enquiries on the help desk to the computer club, but also helped with various non-technical aspects of computer video.

When I was in the UK I would also help out on the computer help desk, and often would take over from my father on more technical issues related to computer video.

My father was never a “penny pincher” – when he bought computers it was always a top end system for the era, and the 2 computers he bought over the years specifically for video editing were no exception.

The Free Digital Video Camera

My father in law purchased a new plasma TV just before Christmas, and with it he negotiated a free, low end digital video camera.

In previous years I had explained to him that one of the solutions to digitising his old SVHS video was to feed it to the video-in of a newer digital camera, and then dump it down onto a computer for editing. Unfortunately his new freebie camera only has out connections.

Christmas Conversations

Christmas is a time of family gathering, and this year was no exception. I had my mother over from the UK along with her sister and husband from South Africa, and we were all staying under one roof with my wife’s family for a week.

Lots of family videos were watched from all corners of the globe, and naturally the subject of dumping legacy SVHS videos came up again.

Explaining Rather than Selling

I didn’t try and “sell” a single solution as being the best option to meet my father-in-law’s needs. I tried to explain to him the possibilities, the technical issues, and provide him with a number of options.

  • Exchange his freebie video camera for a slightly more advanced model, so that a SVHS camera could be connected to it
  • Purchase some kind of HD DVD Recorder
  • Buy a capture card, large harddisk, DVD Writer and firewire card for his existing computer
  • Contact an expert supplier locally

Jedi Forces – “This is not the video capture solution you are looking for”

Somehow 3 weeks later he now has his mind set on buying a laptop for video editing.

The system:-

  • Doesn’t have a large hard disk (60GB for system and video)
  • Doesn’t have a firewire port to connect his new camera
  • Only has 512MB memory
  • Is possibly being imported from the US in some kind of exchange rate deal to get hardware cheaper
  • Which means:-

    1. Possible power supply problems
    2. The OEM Operating System will not be localised
    3. Support will not be available
    4. Forget about Warranty
  • Hasn’t been matched in any way to a particular capture device – maybe times have changed a little, but there used to be some many problems just buying a capture card off the shelf and sticking it in a PC, that I just don’t like the risk. I don’t live in the US – no easy returns policy

Damage Control

I am now in “damage control mode” with my father-in-law, not just to help him buy a video capture solution that he is comfortable with, but also repairing our relationship.

The Sales Lesson Learned

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks that a different approach is needed to sell products and solutions to people. Shorter sales letters, less hype, more multimedia.

However never let it be forgotten:-

Some people with a problem are looking for a single solution
Some people need to be sold, flattered and coerced into buying something to value the advice you give.

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  1. says

    Tell me about it. What passes for a business website in my corner of Kent is a joke. I think some hard selling might be needed just to shake things up a bit. Shame that is not my strong point.