PROFILE

David Zahn

Owner ZAHN Consulting, LLC

David Zahn – President of ZAHN Consulting, LLC a sales training consulting firm. David has over 75 clients and 100 assignments to his credit over a 10 year consulting career (for clients as diverse as 3M, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Castrol, Dr Pepper/7UP, G-Tech, Hallmark, Ocean Spray, Novartis, and Nestle). Prior to consulting, David was responsible for developing educational materials and sales training for Symbol Technologies,a manufacturer of bar code laser scanner and hand-held computing products. David is a frequent contributor to industry publications and has been a columnist and author for subjects as wide ranging as Consulting Skillls, New Item Introductions, Category Management, and Training Design, Facilitation, and Evaluation. Additionally, David is a much requested presenter of key note speeches at industry conferences.

He is often seen running through airports, criss-crossing the country publicizing his two books, “The Quintessential Guide To Using Consultants” and “How To Succeed As An Independent Consultant.” To hear some of the his interviews, please click on the website www.zahnconsulting.com.

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Getting Personal About Business

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  • Posted on: 09/09/2015

    Journey mapping pitfalls can lead retailers astray

    Picking up on Dr. Needel's post, if shopping is often done habitually (and there is likely little controversy about that), how can manufacturers and retailers either interrupt those behaviors or keep them from being interrupted (as strategically determined to the best of their abilities)? A "journey map" may not be THE answer, however, I suspect ALL of us on this site would want to be able to figure out "if not that, then what?"

    I am in the camp that the shopper is NOT always fueled or motivated the same on each trip, so I worry that a journey map may fall short of intended insights. Yet, until something better is offered, it is at least something. Refine it, work with it, challenge it, but I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Posted on: 09/09/2015

    Brand hops on Trump’s anti-Mexico bandwagon

    What I find interesting is the following: The first poster (Mr. Livingston) dismisses "the story" behind the move. The next posters then describe how "the story" will either harm or hurt the brand. My take is that there are few things more important than the story and how the shopper/consumer views it. Whether this is a "good story" or a "bad story" remains to be seen (and the opinions offered, while differing, are interesting). However, in the pursuit of time and interest and PURCHASES, there should not be a dismissal of "the story." The name of the product, the ingredients, the alignment with political candidates, the "patriotism" angle, etc. — those are all components of stories. It is now up to the company and the shoppers to fill in the narrative's interpretation.

  • Posted on: 08/05/2015

    Selling emotion: What retail can teach e-tail

    At the risk of being too simple here, I would suggest going back to selling fundamentals (Selling 101): sell the benefits, NOT the features. How will the product enhance the buyer's sense of self-worth, confidence, effectiveness, efficiency, etc.? Look for the testimonial/storytelling angle. Buyers are swayed by what others are saying and doing, so show them their "neighbors" or "peers" using/wearing/doing with the product. Include the praises from REAL users of the product.

    Saying that something has a 600 thread count means little to many potential shoppers on an emotional/energy level. Showing someone luxuriating on sheets or sleeping dreamily conveys the message more effectively. I think we tend to over-think, over-technologize (if you allow me to make up a word), and over-complicate what works.

  • Posted on: 07/08/2015

    The five stupidest questions to ask shoppers

    How about a simple, "How can I be of help to you today?" Or, "What can I do to make your time here most productive/efficient/effective/etc.?"

  • Posted on: 07/01/2015

    Some consumers excel at predicting flops

    I do NOT see value in this at all. The product has been launched — do a trial and repeat (is that a surprise?) to see if it is sustainable. The retailer is not going to invest in this research to choose which products to carry, so I see this as making the simple more complex. As the kids say, "FAIL."

  • Posted on: 06/25/2015

    Walmart adds supplier fees to cover costs

    With more consumer attention being spent on the online side of the business, it seems to me that retailers that get "in the way" of the transaction rather than adding value between shopper and products will find their business model outmoded. Slotting is a false economy that is an operational necessity for those that need to be bolstered due to their inability to compete. There is only one pot of money — use it as you choose (slotting or promotion or other uses). Which road you take will determine where you wind up as a destination.

  • Posted on: 06/02/2015

    Macy’s and Bloomie’s tailor the online experience

    My assessment is that the roving tailor idea works better for clothing that has been previously purchased and now may need to be tailored due to weight loss/gain or shortening of lapels or other "fashion trend" nuance.

    Where my head goes is to the tailor actually being an extension of a sales person in the shopper's closet, home or office to recommend additional or replacement items to supplement the clothing presented for tailoring.

    The economics of it seem hard to overcome (how do you turn a profit?), but better minds than mine have been applied to this opportunity and hopefully will figure it out.

  • Posted on: 06/01/2015

    Finding the line between digital creepy and cool

    Great discussion and very relevant comments. What occurs to me is:

    1. Let the shopper decide what and how much information they wish to share (opt-in) and when they wish to share it.
    2. What helps the shopper is cool, what SOLELY helps the retailer is creepy.
    3. Just because you CAN do it doesn't mean you should (technology allows for many opportunities to collect information, however not every possibility is one worth pursuing).

    I would be very interested in hearing from people outside the demographic represented here to see if this is universal or specific to those of us who participate here.

  • Posted on: 05/27/2015

    How to help associates conquer their selling fears

    Chris Peterson's response is closest to my own. I would add to the list an understanding of how "trust" is developed (Charles Green has much to say about this at www.trustedadvisor.com) and the specific questions one can/should ask to better get at the needs and wants (hopes, dreams, desires, etc.) of the prospective customer.

  • Posted on: 05/26/2015

    Zappos pays up to support Holacracy vision

    I am all for "pushing responsibility down the org chart to where it does the most good" (an essential in a customer service driven model). I am in favor of empowering people to be responsible for their work, output, role, etc. All good things. I believe in providing employees with tools and resources to accomplish great things.

    What scares me a little bit about the chart shown is the "baked in" reliance on meetings upon meetings. While I have no direct experience with this model as an employee—like Ian Percy—I spent plenty of graduate school nights arguing about org models, management techniques, motivations, performance evaluation, etc. (in my case—very often with Buffalo Chicken Wings and a pitcher of beer in front me) and come to the same conclusions that he reaches. The "box" is often airtight and impenetrable for many.

  • Posted on: 05/04/2015

    Do random freebies create loyal customers?

    A few thoughts:

    1. Why does it have to be an either/or situation (either a card or freebies)? Isn't there room for both?
    2. How do you measure/protect against an employee inviting his/her friends to "come for lunch, on me?" (I know ... this is a bigger problem than "just" loyalty and speaks to whether you have a hiring and/or management issue — but it still needs to be answered. How do you make sure it is being used as intended?)
    3. As far as empowering associates, I think that this is terrific (makes the associate feel like it is "mine" and I make a difference).
    4. Whether it accomplishes the goal of increasing loyalty remains to be seen. I think it is certainly worth doing to at least see what it does to sales (some variation on Mark Heckman's point on measurement).
  • Posted on: 04/27/2015

    Staples chat: That wasn’t easy!

    Al, I am with you! Asking for redundant information that had been previously provided (name, email address, phone number, etc.) when registering or becoming a member, clearly typing from a script or doing a cut and paste ("I am sorry you are experiencing problems" even though I am inquiring about a feature and not necessarily experiencing a problem per se is a big one I encounter), the long lags between responses, etc., it does not feel at all like it is an experience designed for my convenience or benefit at all! It often (as Bob points out) becomes a sales call at a time when I am feeling less inclined to be sold and it raises my resentment.

    I would request more dialogue/information — what are they doing? Where are they looking? What have they uncovered? What is their "working solution?" I want it to be a conversation and not what feels like dragging me through a maze to the point of exhaustion before I quit (like you did). I have the same feeling for some of these "chat" functions that I do for automated systems for the phone. Punch this number, repeat this phrase, depress the # key, say or sing your account number, turn around and put your right arm in, take your right arm out, etc.

  • Posted on: 04/21/2015

    Ticking off ‘guests’ is a good thing for Target

    How many retailers (J.C. Penney anyone?) would have handed over their first-born child for this "problem"? Sure—it COULD have been better. I see this as a success in that we (and customers, and the media, and competitors, etc.) are talking about Target and how they sold out (this is not like selling out of a CSD—this is fashion, excitement, limited supply, etc.).

    I vote for this as a terrific thing for Target.

  • Posted on: 04/21/2015

    Home Depot claims Black Friday for its own

    My thinking aligns with those who express that this is an opportunity lost by not claiming it as their own with a spring-themed promotional name. Additionally, the idea of wearing out the specialness of Black Friday/Cyber Week as just another promotion is a concern.

    It does not compel me to make Home Depot a destination this week any more than any other week. Perhaps, unlike Tom Redd, the idea of nail guns, lumber and paint represent frustration and chores more than fun and specialness (and that may be tainting my view).

  • Posted on: 04/08/2015

    Lane Bryant disses Victoria’s Secret

    I like the campaign's strategy in that it plays off of the competition's "iconic" image and the words are sort of playful and "naughty" (given the lingerie product line, feels like a fun way to associate body image, allusions to intimacy, self-confidence, etc.).

    I think it generates attention and possibly "Trial" from those that might have previously assumed Lane Bryant was not for them from a fashion perspective. Now, it is up to the shopping experience, product, and retail transaction, etc. to make that stick.

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