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Sales God #2: Erica Feidner

I recently set out to find the absolute best of the best when it comes to selling. My criteria was simple: first, I wanted real sales reps (not management types) who sell to real customers. And I wanted people who had something to teach the rest of us. I found five, which I'm going to feature, one a day, throughout this entire week.

NAME: Erica vanderLinde Feidner, 45


CLAIM TO FAME: Was the top sales representative for Steinway & Sons worldwide for eight consecutive years, selling over $41 million dollars in pianos, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $152,000.

THE BIG CHALLENGE: For first-time purchasers, buying a piano involves years of commitment to learn to play it-a major sales roadblock. For experienced players, a piano is a highly personal item that will be their constant companion for hours a day, every day. The two types of buyers could not be more different, making it difficult to create a sales message that works for both.

THE SUCCESS SECRET: Feidner adapts her sales approach to match the stage at which the prospect approaches the sale. For novices, she uses her skill as a piano teacher to provide enough basic instruction so that, within an hour, the prospect is playing a song on the piano. "I've recently translated my teaching technique into a computer game which will be launched later this year," she says. For experienced players, She focuses on matching the personality of the buyer to the "personality" of the piano. "There are many factors that define a piano's personality: how old it is, how it's been cared for, what it's made out of, and especially how it sounds," she explains. To make certain the right match takes place, she works with her prospects as they out test different pianos, often located in various parts of the world, to see how they "feel" to the prospect. "If you cannot tell the difference and thus know which piano is right for you, I haven't yet succeeded," she says.


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