Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Let's put an end to door-to-door selling"/ business trends

Nov. 14, 2016 "Let's put an end to door-to-door selling": Today I found this article by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail:

They say in the sales world that the pitch doesn’t really begin until the customer says no.

For door-to-door sales, that’s wrong. Tell the person at your door that you’re saying “no thanks” to his or her sales pitch and the whole concept of door-to-door sales. There’s no coming back from that.

It’s time we all agreed that serious business cannot possibly be conducted on a door-to-door basis. When you open your front door to a salesperson, end the conversation quickly and politely by saying you don’t make serious financial decisions while standing on your doorstep.

There’s a high correlation between door-to-door selling and scamming. That’s why the province of Ontario recently proposed new rules that would make it possible to ban unsolicited door-to-door sales of certain household appliances, including water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters.

Veteran CTV consumer-issues reporter Pat Foran says door-to-door marketers are well paid to secure long-term rental contracts, and that leads to a lot of “deception” at the door. “It’s a huge complaint I deal with on almost a daily basis,” he said in an e-mail.

A door-to-door scam seen this year in Ottawa, where I live, hinges on false claims being made about the city’s drinking water in order to sell water-filtration equipment. In Calgary, door-to-door sales people have run a scam in which they claim to be building inspectors who need to look at a home’s furnace. The “inspectors” then find problems with the furnace and aggressively try to sell a replacement.

Not all D2D commerce means a scam risk. The guys who want to seal your driveway or the university students offering to aerate your lawn are just selling a service, and it might be one you want and need. But purchases of any size, let’s say $100-plus, are best made when you take time to consider your options.

In today’s world of widely available online consumer information, the idea of making a major purchase such as a furnace or air conditioner at the front door is a joke. If you need a furnace, invite a few heating and cooling companies to give you a quote and then research the brands they sell to see how reliable and effective they are.

Some might say that cutting off door-to-door salespeople is a sign of how we’re evolving into a society of hermits. We prefer to engage with people via social media and have no interest in opening our front door for a chat with a friendly salesperson. In fact, door-to-door sales have a much worse impact on our sociability than Facebook, Twitter and such.

We now have a generation of homeowners who never answer the door for fear of getting trapped in a conversation with someone selling weed control, water purifiers and even financial advice. Not too long ago, a young man knocked on our front door in search of prospective clients for an investment adviser working for one of the big banks in Ottawa (gross, I know). Get rid of these sellers and we’re all free to answer our door again.

Door-to-door sales began more than 100 years ago with the likes of the Fuller Brush Co., which did a brisk business in selling brushes and other household products. The reason this sales method has survived into the Amazon age of e-commerce is that it works.

Effective salespeople can still get people to buy things in a face-to-face setting. They use sales techniques such as being enthusiastic, making eye contact and asking questions to draw customers out. If you answer the door to a sales person, don’t engage. If they ask why your answer is no, don’t elaborate.

Charities are the grey area in door-to-door sales. The Canadian Cancer Society says canvassing of homes is one of its oldest and largest fundraising efforts, and other legitimate charities also use this method of raising money. Yet our front door has been knocked on by people raising money for sketchy-seeming charities that can’t even produce a brochure explaining what they do.

Follow your gut and your heart when considering a door-to-door appeal for charitable giving. Door-to-door selling of products and services is dead, though. Reputable companies don’t make pests of themselves trying to sell you their products.

Feb. 15, 2017 "The top tech trends that will influence businesses in 2017": Today I found this article by Jeff Cates in the Globe and Mail:

With the start of the New Year, most savvy leaders make sure to carve out time for reflection and taking stock of their business. During this time, it’s equally important to look ahead and identify the upcoming trends likely to impact how you position your company for success.

Customers expect organizations to be at the forefront of innovation, regardless of the products or service they provide. If you’re not looking towards emerging technologies in the pipeline, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to drive your business forward, even if you don’t consider yourself a tech company. These days, all companies will be significantly impacted.

It can be daunting to sift through the buzzwords and identify what tech innovations show the greatest potential to transform the business landscape and empower leaders to operate more effectively.

Here are the top three emerging tech trends I think are mostly likely to impact businesses in 2017 and how leaders can harness them to get ahead in the coming year.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) which focuses on the creation of computer programs that can teach themselves to evolve and grow when exposed to new data. Machine learning processes use large-scale data sets to predict customer behavior and provide personalized promotions or recommendations to consumers based on this information. Coupled with the global explosion of social networks in recent years, there has never been more data available right at your fingertips.

While leveraging machine learning for AI assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa is an obvious application, you don’t need to be a consumer tech or robotics company to apply it to strategic business decisions. Over the holidays, my family and I spent some quailty time with Alexa and Hey Google and were amazed at how quickly having an always-on AI became our go-to for questions and simple tasks like playing music.

This bleeding-edge process is an example of “working smarter, not harder” at its finest and is the trend I’m personally most excited about. With machine learning software-as-a-service companies can build a connected platform of data to provide a tailored intelligent service, giving their customers more of what they want and spending less time doing it.

As more users join our QuickBooks Online ecosystem, our platform of connected data continues to expand, driving our ability to leverage machine learning. This growing community will make our ecosystem work harder and enable our customers to operate more efficiently and strategically. Ultimately, our vision is to harness this data to create an artificially intelligent strategic advisor for your business.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has been a trend to watch for a while now, but with the recent launch of consumer VR headsets like the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR, coupled with entry-level mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear, VR is more accessible to users than ever before. In fact, according to a recent study by IDC, spending on AR and VR in Canada is expected to hit $500-million (U.S. in 2017.

So how can businesses start integrating VR into their operations? If you think immersive experiences just impact gaming, think again. From advertising to tourism to healthcare and beyond, the usage cases for VR are nearly limitless. It’s changing the way businesses interact with consumers, empowering brands to draw in audiences like never before. One of my favourite examples of VR done well is TOM’S “Virtual Giving Trip” this year.

For companies with remote workers, virtual reality will also be a powerful tool to keep colleagues connected. In fact, Oculus is already pushing for a more social environment on VR with its Oculus Avatar feature, allowing users to create a digital version of themselves and interact with their connections from anywhere in the world.

Blockchain technology

Best known as the technology underpinning the bitcoin digital currency, blockchain has implications for business way beyond crypto-currencies. Blockchain is an extensive globally-distributed database running on millions of computing devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value can be exchanged and stored securely.

The financial services industry has been the first to take advantage of this new technology. Where trades are typically confirmed by a central clearinghouse that maintains its own central ledger, blockchain architecture removes this middleman from transactions, eliminating added fees and wasted time.

In the last year, more than 40 financial institutions reported working with blockchain technology, and it’s starting to gain momentum across a variety of industries. For example, Mycelia, a new “collective of creatives, professionals and lovers of music,” has developed songs with smart contracts built in, allowing artists to sell directly to consumers without going through an intermediary like a record label or music streaming company.

Today’s blistering pace of technological change provides business leaders with an unprecedented opportunity to build new efficiencies into their business models and reach their audiences in creative, compelling new ways. We’re sure to see some incredible innovations come of age in 2017. Getting ahead of these trends now can position your company to lead the market for years to come.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home