Dan Sherman’s plan to save TiVo
If you aren’t using a personal video recorder (PVR), you’re either too poor to buy one (which is fine, just keep reading my blog and perhaps we can get your income up) or you are purposely living in the stone age, for whatever reason.
As you may or may not know, TiVo has become synonymous with the PVR industry. You’re not recording something with your digital video recorder, you’re “TiVo-ing” it. Regardless of whether you own a ReplayTV unit or some other unit.
If the name of your company is synonymous with your industry, you should be ashamed of yourself for bankrupting it.
TiVo has gone through more cash than the UN made from illegally selling Iraqi oil under cover of the “oil for food” program. I mean, GOBS of cash. And they aren’t even close to profitable. Yikes!
I recently wrote a letter to the company, with an idea that if implemented, would save their company from utter financial ruin and bring it way north of profitable within 2 years, if not much sooner.
But will they listen? My guess is no. Why? Because my idea is too unorthodox and not glamorous enough for a company, again, synonymous with their own industry.
I’ve touched on door to door selling many times in my blog. There’s a reason. It’s a much maligned way of selling, but it sure is effective if you have the right product.
TiVo is the right product.
1) Brand recognition. There are VERY FEW doors you can knock on in an average neighborhood in America and not find at least someone that’s heard of TiVo.
2) Highly demonstrative. Once you’ve experienced watching your favorite programs when YOU want to watch them, without commercials, and without much technical know how, you will start referring to your past as pre-TiVo and post-TiVo. Colors become more vibrant, taste more lively. You will love harder, hate less, sex is better… okay, you get my point. Experience it for a bit, you’re hooked. (Kind of like crack cocaine I would imagine, without the financial ruin and premature aging.)
3) Relative low cost. This lends itself to an easier close for the sales person. I mean, heck, millions and millions of dollars were made by vacuum sales people selling their suck machines door to door for years and years. You were asking someone to write you a check for a good chunk of change on those sales calls. Now THAT was hard.
4) One call close. In the sales biz, the “one call close” is what separates the super stars from the “also mentions.” If you can’t sell someone during your first meeting/visit/consultation, you’re toast. Period. Sure, you might get the sale on a subsequent meeting or call, but if you plan on taking on a mortgage, you better master the one call close. (In general… I’m not talking about multi billion dollar deals or real estate… etc.)
5) Proactive sale. You are GOING TO YOUR CUSTOMER and not waiting for the sale to be “clerked.” There’s a difference between clerking and selling. Clerking is when you have 1 million TiVo units in 100,000 stores across the USA along with a thousand other electronic items. Then you sit there and wait for someone to mosey into the store to buy one of your boxes. If you’re lucky, you get a store employee who has a TiVo and can say something other than, “I don’t know, let’s read the manual” when queried about your product. In other words, you wait for someone to pick up your product and purchase it. Most products are FORCED to operate this way, assisted with a butt load of advertising, if your smart (or rich.)
But selling is a different animal. Sure, you can sell in stores. You can have your manufacture rep in stores, talking up your product. But you’re still waiting for people to come into the store looking for a solution. If you go door-to-door, and you know that a vast majority of the doors you’re going to knock on can use your product… now THAT is selling, folks. You’re going out and proactively looking for customers. People that weren’t even thinking of you and your product 30 minutes ago are now allowing your sales person to hook up a trial TiVo unit and their not only allowing you, but because of your expertly trained sales person, they are actually giddy with excitement over this new magical box that has just arrived out of the blue, to bring joy to the entertainment center. They’ve heard all the hype about it, but just haven’t done anything about it yet, or they’ve been intimidated by the setup… etc.
6) Controlled growth. If you want to sell X number of units next month, recruit and train X number of sales people this month. When you’re selling in stores, you can’t just ship 2,000,000 units more next month and expect to sell them. You have absolutely no control over your growth, other than advertising which is a shot in the dark. With door-to-door sales, you can EXACTLY predict what you are going to sell, based on the number of people you have on the ground selling and the average sell you have experienced for each placement in a home… etc. It’s just a matter of doing the math and executing.
7) Company profits. Right now, a large portion of TiVo’s income is from agreements with satellite companies and the TiVo licensed units they have sold or rent to their customer base. But those agreements are going by the wayside. So, they are going to lose that revenue stream because of another company’s decision. All door-to-door sales will be company owned customers. Way more profit. (I mean WAY more profit, per customer.)
I’ve sold insurance door-to-door, folks. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if I had the opportunity to sell TiVo back then, instead of insurance, I would have done back flips and said, “where do I sign.” I can’t think of ONE commonly used product today, that is better suited for selling door-to-door than a PVR. You give the customer a free week trial and install it for them right then and there. If they don’t like it after a week, call and you’ll come back out to remove it. If they do like it, keep it and billing will automatically start. It’s the classic puppy dog approach. You give someone a puppy dog to take care of for a week, they fall in love with it, and don’t want to give it back.
TiVo… please take my advise. Do a test using this concept. See that it works and then make a splash by putting out a press release saying all TiVo units will cease being sold through retail outlets as of X date. After that date, customers will only be able to get TiVo through your website or through your independent neighborhood sales reps. This would do several things.
First, there would be a run on machines in the stores. So, there would be a boost in sales, right off.
Second, it would provide a huge surge in press coverage. It’s an odd tact for a major company to do, so that is valuable exposure, right there. Almost everyone would know that you’re now selling them door-to-door and so this would create a receptive atmosphere when your reps actually do start knocking on doors. You may even get people who are WAITING to be knocked on so they can get a free install… etc.
Third, you would set yourself up to do like Dell does and sell directly to the customer. Cutting out the retail store in your case is about the smartest thing you can do. (Remember, you have great brand recognition… heck, stores should be paying YOU to carry your product, actually.)
There’s an old saying… “If you continue to do what you’re doing, you’ll continue to get the results you’re getting.” It’s time for TiVo to create a Purple Cow. Seth Godin, if you’re reading this, back me up. TiVo needs to break out of the standard retail mold. Make a splash. Do something remarkable. I wanna see them around for a long time to come.