Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friggin Fring

So my brilliant plan to beat the Comm system has kinda' worked.

I have a new cell phone. It's the Nokia E71. Not the new E71x that AT&T is offering. This is the one that's not stripped down.

It's a great phone. Very thin, very powerful. So my plan was, buy an unlocked phone, get a data plan only, and get both unlimited data and unlimited voice for about $40/mo. How? Voice Over IP, or Voip for short. Using programs like Skype, you can make calls out for cheap or free. Basically, if I can minimize my per month cost, and maximize my ability to make and receive calls, and not pay more than $50/month, that's the goal. This means we'll be getting rid of our landline too, once I get this figured out. So then Cindy will have her prepaid phone, and I'll have my phone, and that will be it.

Here's what I have to report. Skype Lite, which is the only version available for this phone, doesn't work. It's really stupid too. It requires you to have a voiceplan to make internet calls. What it does is it dials a local number and then forwards you to whatever number you're trying to call. What's the point?

So now I'm using a program called Fring. It's not terrible, but has some really annoying characteristics. But first, the pluses:
-It works. It hooks up to my Skype account, and on that account I pay $3/month for unlimited calls. So I'm able to use Skype out to make calls using Fring. The calls are crystal clear as well.
-Fring works great as an IM too. Pulls in GTalk, MSN, AOL, Skype, etc. And it pulls all your contacts from your phone too. So that's cool.

Here's where it starts to suck:
- There's a bit of a delay, about 2 seconds or so, in the calls. It's annoying. And it's the same if you're using 3G, Broadband, or WiFi.
- You can't use push button numbers while you're in a call. Meaning, if you are calling something and it says, "for such and such, please press 1". You can't do that using Fring.
- Haven't figured out how to access my Skype voicemail from Fring either.
- You can't just dial a number either. They have to be a contact in your buddy list or in your phone contacts.


Next, there's a program called Gizmo. It's pretty cool and uses the phone part of your phone to make internet calls. Also pulls from your contacts. You can dial any number. Basically it works like prepaid minutes. You put money on your account, you buy a phone number (one time fee), and then it's basically 3.9 cents per minute. The really crappy part is, it appears you can only use Gizmo if you're hooked up to WiFi. It won't work with 3G or whatever the phone's normal data plan is.


Some of you might be wondering about SIP. I haven't tried it yet. The whole point for me is to minimize my costs, and SIP just seems to be a way to connect everything... Except that I'll be dumping my landline. Still need to read up on this, but I'm open to suggestions.

If anyone else has any thoughts on how to accomplish my goal, please let me know. It's an interesting quest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

VW it is

Started the VW gig yesterday. Spent my first day driving cars. That was cool. Kind of got introduced to each car and what makes each one cool. Discovered I REALLY love convertibles. Didn't really know that about myself.

Today, came into my office to discover the small cabinet had been taken, I still don't have a mouse for my computer, and someone took the picture of the his and hers VW bugs side by side leaning towards each other while the guy and the girl kissed. It was cute. Decided I'm going to tell the sales manager if they don't put a cool VW picture up in my office, I'm bringing a Mini Cooper picture to put up.

Also, turns out you need a specific driver license to sell cars. Who knew? So today I had to spend most of a full day at the DMV and the Social Security office, because oh yeah, they need a copy of my social security card, and apparently mine is gone. Had to get a Live Scan too, which is basically digital fingerprinting with a background check. Spendy day, except that Social Security didn't charge me for a replacement card. Hey, ONE perk from the SS office isn't bad.

So, if anyone is considering buying a Prius or any other Hybrid car, please contact me first so I can talk you out of it. Buy a TDI. Turbo Diesel. Way better gas mileage, and several years down the line you won't have to fork out half the value of the vehicle to replace the batteries. Plus, it burns fuel SUPER clean. Seriously, eff the Prius. Buy a Jetta TDI. And buy it from me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

From Mini to VW to... I dunno, I give. You tell me.

Mini passed on me, but they said I was outstanding and would like to consider me for their new store. They decided to go with someone with more auto experience, and I can't really argue with that... having no auto sales experience myself.

Then another ad caught my eye, Volkswagen. So I submitted my resume and they called me back. The next day (Friday) I went in for the interview, and that evening when I got home they again, called me back. They really liked me, like my energy, and thought I might be a good fit. Would I come in on Monday morning to their in-house training program and spend a day learning their sales process? Sure. I'd love to. And that's what I did today.

It was very similar to the Dale Carnegie sales process I already know, just more specific to selling cars. So that was nice and familiar and built confidence. However, the main factor that was mentioned was that our biggest selling advantage in selling is our superior knowledge of our products and inventory, and in-depth study of the competition. *beat*

Well crap. I don't really have either of those things. Yet, and I realize knowledge will come. But it was discouraging to hear, particularly since I'm entering this industry with no auto experience. On the other hand, when I started selling at Revchem, I didn't have an in-depth knowledge of silicones or UV-initiated resins either, so I suppose in that way it's no different.

Overall the day was very enlightening, and I definitely think I could work that process well. So I sat down with the manager again and discussed the position in more detail today. We talked about the commission structure and bonuses, medical/dental all that. Sure working on 100% commission is risky, but it's always a good motivator. That part doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I have to essentially create my own customer base. The foot traffic at the dealership is very light. So not only am I doing the sales process once they land on the doorstep, but I have to get them IN the door in the first place.

Today I was told to treat this as if I were running my own business. The flipside of course is that I'm working for them as an employee, so I'm not totally on my own.

There is also no formal product knowledge training. There are certifications you have to eventually obtain from VW, but the internet is my friend I guess. I think my main hesitations at this point are concerns over the short term. How to get people in the door. Getting up to speed enough to speak confidently about the vehicles I will be selling. Becoming intimately familiar with the inventory so as to know what cars to select.

I get paid more on unemployment than I do sitting at the dealership learning about the products. So it almost makes more sense to research at home for a week or two, then go work for them. But then I don't want them to hire someone else while I'm learnin' up.

I think more importantly I am stressing about the process of getting the customers in the door in the first place. The main reason I'm attracted to selling cars in the first place is that the customer generally comes to YOU! I don't mind doing the work of generating prospects and leads for myself; that's a vital part of the sales process that any seller worth anything should be able to do for themselves. Just in my experience it's the part that takes the longest.

So, I'm stressing a bit about it. Mainly because I have no other employment prospects on the table. And, I'm starting to stress again about what direction to be looking for employment. Should I concentrate on sales, or should I concentrate on management? Do I even want a management position? What about teaching? Some people think I should pursue teaching Latin... What about that?

I just don't know. My top 5 talents are: Connectedness, Empathy, Individualization, Achiever, Arranger.

Definitely seems to tell the story of someone who's a sales professional, doesn't it? Or clergy, or team leader, or producer, or director, or....

Anyone got any insights?