As the fifth of 13 episodes played out and the first woman was fired after four men were sent home in as many weeks, we saw a new turn of events on this exciting television series. If you want to learn more about business in one hour than some people learn in years, don’t miss watching as two teams of young people become champs or chumps in a new business every week.
With 48 hours to decide strategy, marshal resources, find customers
and make the most money on their investments, the intense management
decisions reveal lessons from which every business owner can learn.
For my wife, Valerie, and me, it’s the fastest, most powerful
“training” we’ve seen.
For four straight weeks women were pitted against men—eight to
a team in the beginning, with one member of a losing team fired every
week. Women were criticized for using charm and overdoing sexuality
to coax special deals, sell more lemonade from a street stand and
push more cocktails at Planet Hollywood. But, most often, the reason
they won was sensing the big picture and using intuitive feelings
rather than function to beat the guys an embarrassing four times straight.
POWERFUL MESSAGE FOR MEN AND WOMEN IN WINDOW
The premise is that Donald Trump has selected 16 young men and women
from more than 200,000 entrants to vie for a $250,000 dream job as
president of one of his companies. It is strictly survival of the
I sensed the window coverings message with the first episode, and
I think you will too. Here’s what happened: Men and women teams
were each challenged to set up a lemonade stand on a New York street
corner. Each team was given a $250 grubstake with the charge to see
how much they could increase it. It was uncanny to see, compressed
into a single day, how a challenge between sexes revealed principles
it took me years to learn managing hundreds of sales people.
The women started slow, then trounced the guys. The women argued and
dallied for more than two hours while the guys started making sales
immediately. The women bought their supplies and equipment. The men
scavenged them free—tables, pots, pans and equipment. The guys
sold a cup of lemonade for $1. The women got $5.
The men could have charmed sales and a higher price from secretaries
at nearby office towers. But, instead, they located at the Fulton
Fish Market looking for sweaty, thirsty customers. They were selling
function. The women weren’t just quenching thirst, they made
it fun to buy their product.
What can we learn from this about sales and management in window coverings?
• Guys were great buyers. Women were great sellers.
• Guys hit the streets running. Women were petty, emotional and
slow off the mark.
• Guys sold function to satisfy thirst. Women sold fun, excitement,
and feeling—the pleasure of doing business with friendly, ambitious
• Guys sold cheap and tried to make it up on volume. Women sold
at higher prices, sold fewer units (less cost of goods) and worked
less (fewer transactions).
• Guys doubled their money, bringing back $500. Women quintupled
it—trounced the guys with more than $1,200.
AMAZINGLY LIKE WINDOW COVERINGS!
In our window coverings business I’ve seen guys start faster
and sell more in the first three years. They pride themselves on being
great buyers and negotiating deals they brag about. They think increasing
gross margin means buying for five percent less instead of selling
for five percent more. Guys often want five appointments a day (women
often average less than one). Yet, how many men sell over $500,000
Time after time I’ve seen women take more time with each customer
and build relationships. They know that women homeowners they sell
to will never stop with one purchase at one window. Over the years
their customers buy more layers for the same window, for more windows
in the same home and then move to another home and start again. Women
sales consultants get more repeat and referral sales, and the amount
they sell to each customer doubles the average that guys sell.
The insight here is not to be sexist or to give either sex a bum rap—just
the opposite. It is to share insight about gender strengths both ways.
Women have their challenges, too. They often lack confidence starting
out in sales; sometimes they’re afraid to risk advertising to
grow. Women can be perfectionists; often, for good reasons, they are
concerned about what people will think of them if they promote theselves
and their businesses. Their desire for uniqueness can go to such an
extreme that it prices buyers out of the market. Many men, on the
other hand, will canvass a neighborhood, knock on doors, pass out
flyers, promote appointments and make a deal to close a sale.
What we need is to learn from each other.
What the Trump story tells us is that there are gender differences
and they are real. It will benefit guys to learn to put function on
the back burner and sell the feeling, emotion and beauty in a room;
to take more time on each sale to build relationships to create bigger
sales and more repeat and referral sales.
WOMEN CAN WIN!
It also tells us that women can benefit by overcoming fears—“Just
do it,” as the advertising slogan goes. Women can grow personally
if they take a risk, experience victory or learn from failure. They
need to believe in themselves and the great sales people they can
Try it. At the next industry trade meeting learn from each other.
Never say, “I couldn’t do that.” Instead ask, “How
does she make emotion pay off?,” or “How can he take a risk
like that?” The real Trump card: you’ll both be winners!
C. Bursten is a leading expert in window coverings marketing, sales
training, Web site and e-mail newsletters through custEmers.com. Questions
and comments welcome: email@example.com; (888) 333-8981. Whether
you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage
50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar business, this
series will help you manage sales better and increase your profitability.
Articles are based on his actual experience with sales and financial
information for hundreds of window coverings businesses and as the
retired founder of Decorating Den Interiors and author of a how-to
book on new business start up, “Bootstrap Entrepreneur,”
Want to know more about selling concepts? Send an e-mail for “Ten
Tips to Selling Concepts instead of Commodities” concepts@custEmers.com.