Thursday, August 07, 2008

Time for the big show...

Wow. Long drive. Nice visit with my family. Nice dinner with my wife. Test paddling some fine new boats (and some crappy ones).

Now the fun part is over. It's time for line presentations.

For those of you who are NOT in the outdoor industry, here's how it works.

A Sales Rep shows you all the cool stuff they make, and they tell you why you should buy it.

Many of these reps are competent, nice, hard-working people. Alas, some are not. Those are the ones that just nod and smile a lot.

So here's a list of terms you might hear during a line presentation (and its English translation).
"This is an early prototype."
This means "Be very careful, it's the only one we have and if you break it I will lose my job and possibly my life."
"This is pre-production."
This means "I can't really make any changes to this product because the mold is done, but if you want to pretend you have input on the design, I'll pretend too."
"These will ship August 15th."
The correct response to this is a simple and sincere "August 15th of which year?"
"These are sourced offshore."
This means the product is made in China, probably by small children chained to sewing machines for 12 to 14 hours a day, and are not allowed to see pictures of the Dalai Lama to boot.* If you want to have some fun, ask them "which shore?"

"We've had to make some pricing adjustments."

This means prices are going up. If you think the adjustments were down, you're smoking a high-quality brand of crack.

"We think this product will do well in your market."

Since they say this to every buyer they meet, and you assume a certain heterogeneity among buyers and the heterogeneity of their local economic and sociological conditions, this basically means they have a lot of them.
"We've had some quality issues in the past."
Remember, the past is pretty much any time period before right now.

And my favorite:
"We've [insert action here] that'll solve all our delivery problems for next year."

The correct response to this is to smile and nod, then hedge your bet by ordering identical product from a similar vendor.

Let's be careful out there, people.

Respectfully submitted,


*Okay, so I exaggerate a little. So do sales reps.

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