The Real Cost of Mediocrity (1548 words)

Try Harder, Overcome Mediocrity

Have you ever wondered what the real cost of mediocrity within your organization might be? Has there ever been a time when a mess-up by someone internally, proved to be quite costly in both money/resources and time/energy? Has there been a time when a mess-up by someone in your organization caused a huge toll on an outsider, i.e. supplier or customer? Training, ego and attitude can be the answer

In the world of selling, the real cost of mediocrity can be extreme

In selling, there are generally two categories: hunters and farmers. The hunters are the sales people, both inside and outside, that specialize in going after new business—their thrust is the hunt, bringing in new customers. Farmers on the other hand specialize in nurturing house accounts and business that the hunters have brought in. Too often, organizations will settle for farmers that are mediocre, or careless and don’t tend to their crops. The prices businesses or organizations pay for allowing this kind of behavior are truly unnecessary.

My first real job in outside sales, other than selling encyclopedias door-to-door, was in selling to retailers. The owner of the business, Ray Kahn, once told me, “If you lose an account because you were out sold, it’s okay. But, if you lose an account because you weren’t paying attention to that account—you’re out of here!” He understood the real cost of mediocrity. Several years later, I saw first-hand that he meant it. Ray fired a hunter/farmer salesman, Mike that had been with him for a decade. Unfortunate for all that were involved, Mike got complacent and lazy, losing a major account because he wasn’t paying attention to the needs of the customer.

When a farmer doesn’t pay attention, it is an absolute travesty

Mike was an okay hunter, but not a great farmer. This situation is not unusual. If you manage sales people and you tolerate a farmer not tending to their crops (accounts), I believe that you are just as guilty as your farmer sales person. It is you, after all, to whom they are accountable.

Not long ago, I traveled to the American East Coast to speak on selling at a chapter of the National Speakers Association (NSA), of which I am a member in Los Angeles. This NSA chapter had been meeting at the same suburban area hotel on the same Saturday of each month for the previous three years. This particular Saturday in January was to be different.

The “you know what” hit the fan late Friday night

Following dinner that evening, my contact with the group dropped me back at the hotel where I was staying and where the meeting would be the next day. In passing, she asked if I knew that I’d be presenting the next morning in the hotel’s restaurant…during regular service hours…to the public? Their usual meeting room had been booked out from under them. Well, that was a surprise that was to me.

Three days earlier, when the NSA Chapter’s program chair called the hotel to check if everything was in place for their coming Saturday meeting, the hotel sales contact, Lois, told the program chair that they had no reservation for the group for the coming Saturday. And, Lois told the program chair that the room they usually use, along with every other meeting room and space in the hotel was also sold out. Wow, what a predicament! Even worse, Lois offered no possible solutions to a long-time customer.

The meeting chair asked Lois how this could be? Especially since the group had been using that meeting room the same Saturday of the month for the past three years and had an on-going relationship. Lois answered by stating that she thought it was odd that the organization had not signed a contract for the coming year. Lois continued by stating that since the hotel’s customers “call them” she didn’t give it a second thought. Excuse me! If I was Lois’ boss, I’d do to her what Ray Kahn did to Mike—fire ‘em! There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

That farmer, Lois, definitely was not tending her crops (accounts). Can you believe it? Worse, the sales person was ignorant enough to state, “Our customers call us.” She sold the room out from under this group. Perhaps because the group to whom she sold the room was generating higher revenue? Perhaps she was only mindful of her commission check? Perhaps it was her way of telling this NSA Chapter that they were no longer welcome at that property? This clearly demonstrates mediocrity.

The Real Cost of Mediocrity

What do you think might be the real cost to the hotel from Lois’ debacle?

To the credit of the hotel’s General Manager, late that Friday evening, I worked with him and food & beverage (F&B) manager for over an hour looking at possibilities to make the next day’s presentation work, even though it was to be in the hotel’s restaurant, during service hours to the general public. The hotel general manager explained to me that he, and his staff had been working on the problem for the past three days. They had even called other hotels to try and move the meeting—but without success. Further exhibiting the real cost of mediocrity.

Let’s take a rough look at the real cost of mediocrity to this hotel:

A hotel general manager making around $100,000 a year, working a six-day work week equates to about $333 per working day. If we take into account that the general manager, food & beverage manager, sales staff and others had been dealing with the issue for three days and just add up the general manager’s pay, that gives us about $1,000 cost to the hotel. I’m sure Lois’ commission on the sale of the room and F&B was nowhere near that much.

Now let’s add in the damage to both the national brand and that particular location. This group happened to be a gathering of local-area professional speakers. Since many are intimately familiar with hotels, their expectations tend to be a bit higher than most. What will they say to local meeting planners about this hotel? I doubt it would be complimentary. If the approximately 50 professional speakers mention the situation to only one meeting planner over the following year—that’s potentially 50 local meeting planners that have received a poor report about this property. What’s the cost of that?

If only one of those 50 meeting planners decided not to book a meeting at that property based on what they heard, how many thousands of dollars would that property not receive in future revenue because of Lois’ behavior? Let alone the tarnished perception of this particular brand nationally could cost the chain dollars. Surely it would be more that Lois’ commission on that particular room, on that particular Saturday.

The Rest of The Story

This had been the second time that this property, or should I say Lois, had pulled this kind of situation on that particular NSA Chapter. As such, the board of directors immediately decided to start looking for another property at which to hold their monthly meetings. By the next month’s meeting, the chapter had already found a new home for their monthly meetings. That adds even more to the real cost, as the revenue from the chapter was valuable to the hotel during slow times.

Gosh, because that farmer, Lois, was too unorganized, oblivious, lazy, apathetic, ignorant or greedy, the real cost to the hotel’s productivity and revenue was, and will continue to be, substantial. What does this mean to you? In selecting and/or maintaining the wrong people to represent your organization’s interests, you will pay dearly for their impoverishment of skills.

Solutions

The TEA Master Key should prove helpful. The three key areas necessary to explore in serving your customers well are: Training, Ego and Attitude.

Training your employees well is a given, the subtleties are in their understanding the DNA of your organization’s culture and an advanced understanding of how to most effectively use the “tools” that you have made available to them. Understandably, this takes time, but few companies devote the necessary hours to this endeavor. And, if your employees are not continually learning, you must re-examine the limited value they deliver to your organization.

Ego is good, when kept in check, allowing one to be confident, yet not arrogant. Unfortunately, too many employees let their ego get in the way of their performance, i.e. too much ego that they never admit a mistake. Mistakes are good, if one learns from their mistake. Years ago, Ray Kahn would say, “If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning, and I don’t need you. But, if you do not learn from your mistakes, I don’t need you either.” Other ego issues revolve around one’s need to be right! In serving customers, it is more important to get things done, than to focus on being right.

Attitude can make, or break, an employee and a customer’s perception of your organization’s value proposition. Employees with an attitude of apathy are like termites eating away at the fiber of your organization and one day that fiber that holds your organization together will give fail. On the other hand, employees with the attitude of service, not servitude, flourish and with them so does your organization. Give your employees plenty of reasons to have superior attitudes—it will serve you well. Embrace TEA to avoid the cost of mediocrity.

Sell More with Persuasive Presentations (512 Words)

If you, and your sales team, desire increased sales… If you, and your sales team, want to do this without increasing call frequency… You only have one choice—excel at persuasive presentations!

Recently I conducted a presentations training for a technology company. Their business is strong, and they have an experienced sales team. But, few truly understood the basic mechanics of persuasive presentations. As such, they were leaving dollars on the table at every call.

Selling is simply determining another’s problem and persuading them that you have the solution to their problem. Then asking them to accept your solution—the close—it’s quite simple. Unfortunately, not enough salespeople understand the basics.

There are three key elements in persuasive presentations:

  1. An arresting opening benefit statement.
  2. Explaining benefits with features.
  3. Asking for the business.

Right about now you might be thinking, “Thanks Ed, but tell me something new!” Force your sales team to practice their sales presentations in front of each other at your next gathering and you’ll most likely say, “Wow! They really do not know these basics!”

Opening:

The opening benefit statement is really a hook, one that catches the prospect’s interest. In reality, a salesperson is saying, “Please give me a few minutes of your life.” If the prospect sees no potential value, why in the world would they want to needlessly give up minutes of their life? The first thing a salesperson says either catches the prospect’s interest or it doesn’t. Grab their interest instantly with a promising opening benefit statement.

Benefits:

How sales people love to share features—about them, their company and about their product or service. Most prospects are thinking, “So what!” The prospect only cares about how the salesperson’s offer can make their life better—that’s it! For every feature, the logic, there also had better be a benefit, the emotion. Otherwise your salespeople are just visiting for a cup of coffee rather than solving problems and selling.

Ask for it:

These are the three great words that will change the lives of any salesperson that is confident enough to use them. I continually wonder why so many salespeople are afraid to ask for the business. Could it be because they have not yet sold themselves? Could it be they are afraid of being pushy? Could it be that they don’t want to deal with the rejection of a prospect saying no?

The answer to the above three questions is a resounding, yes. Challenge your salespeople to a day of presenting in front of each other. Have them do at least two presentations in a day.  And, if you want it to be really powerful—have all your salespeople complete feedback forms on each other.

The PARTNERS Selling Model (1035 words)

Partner Selling is simply helping others to buy. Partner Selling is caring enough about your prospect to see the world from their view.Partner Selling is expending the additional effort to understand the pain your prospects are experiencing and helping them to see, understand, or experience how your product or service will easily alleviate their current pain.

Your prospects, like everyone else, are in some kind of pain. Your job is to uncover their pain. Understand how your product or service will solve their pain. Then translate the product or service features into benefits in such a way that your prospect will absolutely understand how accepting your offer will relieve their pain and make their life better.

The PARTNERS model for selling success:

Pain

You must uncover, understand, and translate the pain your customer is experiencing. This is the first and most important aspect of selling. Without this knowledge, you might as well try to play basketball in a light-less gymnasium. To move your customer to a buying decision, you must have a strong understanding of their core issues—this is generally from where their pain emanates. Better than pushing a product or service on others; have a vision of how your product or service will solve the pain of your prospects and make their life better.

Access

Access your customer’s attention. This is done with a powerful opening statement. “May I help you?” is not a powerful opening statement. You want to break their preoccupation barrier, hook their attention and make it clear to your prospect that you have something of value to offer. To access the real, or hidden, need of your prospect, you must get them talking. And, you must focus on active listening. If you are trying to convert someone away from their current supplier, try asking the following two questions. Ask, “What is it you find helpful about Company X?” Get them talking. When they are relaxed and chatting about how wonderful their current supplier is, make the transition. Ask, “Is there any area where Company X could improve?” If they answer your second question, listen carefully—you just struck gold!

Relevance

You, your offer, your product or service must be relevant to the needs of your customer. Too often, I have observed sales people acting like a “Features Jockey” where they spend so much time trying to impress their prospect with their product knowledge that the prospect doesn’t have the time or energy to buy. Too much information can be like trying to catch a little breeze in a blasting wind tunnel. Do not make the mistake of blowing your prospect over with a blast of information when they only need and want a little buying push. If you did well in accessing the real situation, making it relevant should be a breeze.

Translate

Translate features into benefits. You cannot leave it to chance that your prospects will figure out for themselves how your offer will make their lives better. Tell them! They must clearly understand how your product or service can end their pain. Do the work—take the time to be clear yourself on how your product or service helps your customers. Ask satisfied customers themselves and then use their stories. Force your sales manager, VP of sales or anyone else at your company to tell you more about how you help people or organizations. The more you learn about how your offer helps people, the more you can share.

NLP

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the cutting edge science of sales psychology. It is the connection between neurological processes (‘neuro’), language (‘linguistic’) and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (‘programming’) and that can be organized to achieve specific goals. This skill is important to your success. Use it to communicate with your prospect in a style that will foster instant rapport. NLP is the study of how the brain learns and through which strategies: auditory, visual and/or kinesthetic. The key is to have the ability to recognize the preferred learning strategy of your prospect and mirror that strategy in your communication. If you do this, your prospect’s brain basically says, “This person is like me. I like me. I like this person.” The result will be a stunning subliminal connection.

Emotion

The emotional connection you create with your prospects is essential to success. Many of the ideas listed above will help you to develop an emotional connection. People buy from who they like and trust. Understand buyer acquisition motives and you’ll achieve this emotional connection. Never forget that people buy based on emotion and then use logic to justify their buying decision. Think back to one of your own impulse purchases. For some reason, you were drawn to make the purchase—that’s emotion. Then you came up with some kind of justification for the purchase—that’s logic. Use this to help your prospects remove their pain.

Removal

Remove their objections. You can do this by using your NLP skills to anchor your prospects positive feelings towards how your offering will make their lives better. This is most effective when they finally reveal their smoke screen objectives. Usually, an objection is simply an indication that you attempted to close the sale before you demonstrated the overwhelming value they will receive in doing business with you. You just need to better demonstrate how your product or service will remove the pain they are currently enduring. If you’ve already done all the other necessary elements, this should be a very small part of the selling process. If you get stuck here, go back to the two questions I suggested you ask in the Access paragraph.

Solution

Always focus on solving pain—be the solution rather than the problem. This focus will keep you on task. Throughout the PARTNERSmodel, you are simply moving closer to pain extraction. Do this by skillfully helping them to understand just how easily they can have a better life by using your product or service. Generally, if you have done your selling job correctly, you do not need tricky closes. The close is the natural progression of the relationship building that you have achieved in helping your prospect. Pain extraction equals plentiful sales.

Partner Selling: 8 Steps to Serve Your Customers & Be Rewarded (1363 Words)

Partner selling is a very logical approach to selling in today’s electronically connected world. We all like to do business with people we know and trust. This simply makes a buyer more confident in their purchase. If you sell from the perspective of serving customers as a partner, rather than an opponent, your rewards will certainly follow.

Step 1—Caring

To become a trusted partner with your prospects and customers, first care enough to see their needs through their eyes. Their perception is their reality. Seeing things through their eyes will help you to position yourself as their caring and trusted partner—rather than just another vendor.

Step 2—Knowledge

Product knowledge is table stakes in the game of selling. Without product knowledge, one will be lost in the fine art of translating product features into customer benefit. The other knowledge is that of knowing customer needs, wants, and desires. This comes from direct and meaningful communication with your customers. I’ve found that a basic understanding of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the science of how the brain learns will assist any salesperson to become substantially more effective in the sales process.

Step 3—Listening

Listen for NLP indicators. Everybody has a primary basic learning strategy: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (feeling). People use each of the three strategies in different learning environments. Yet, most people favor one strategy. Determine your customers preferred strategy by listening to the kind of words they use. Talk with them in their NLP favored terms to build rapport more quickly. As an example, the customer who says something like, “I wonder how this will look on me?” is most likely a visual learner. Talk to that person in visual terms. Say something like, “Just picture yourself…” This is called direct or matched communication; you are mirroring your customer. Had you said, “Feel this fabric…” You would have had a communication mismatch. This communication matching is very effective in fast rapport building. The more rapport you have with the prospect/customer, the more they will tell you exactly how to sell to them.

Step 4—Questions

One learns more through asking than does one in answering. Ask and listen, is the formula for selling success. The correct questions, if answered, allow you to hear exactly how to sell to the individual, or organization. Asking about needs, wants, and desires—along with past purchases will help you to know what product features will deliver the benefits desired. In your questioning, be certain to determine preferred learning strategy quickly and use seeing, hearing, or feeling words in your efforts to question prospects and customers.

Step 5—Benefits

To this day, viewing Web Sites, sales and marketing materials, and listening people talk only about features, causes me great pain. People buy based on benefits; meaning how the product or service makes one’s life better. Features are those things built into the product or service that assist in delivering the desired benefit. Your customer is always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” If you act as a partner to your prospect or customer, you will always focus on talking about how the product or service will make their life better.

Step 6—Buying Motives

Be a partner by helping prospects and customers to solve their problems…justify their emotional decision to buy through the logic of fulfilling their buying motive(s). Listed below are the six basic buying motives—they should cover most buying situations. Understand how your products and services solve these buying motives and you can be a successful partner with your customer for life.

Different people, in different situations have one or more of the following buying motives. As an example, people generally buy insurance for fear of loss rather than for profit or gain, but play the stock market for profit or gain. Similarly, they buy aspirin and other pain killers for avoidance of pain rather than for pride and prestige. Yet pride and prestige is why most people buy an expensive luxury automobile. Sell to your prospect or customer’s buying motive and you’ll close the sale much more quickly.

  1. Profit or Gain
  2. Fear of Loss
  3. Comfort and Pleasure
  4. Avoidance of Pain
  5. Loving and Affection
  6. Pride and Prestige

Step 7—Create Urgency

Help people to understand why it is in their best interest to act now. Answer objections simply and quickly, as if your customer is asking a question—because that’s what they really are doing. Say, “That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked.” Then go into overcoming their objection by telling how a particular feature creates a benefit that makes their life better.

My favorite method in answering a prospect’s questions is the feel, felt and found method. Say, “I know how you feel, Mrs. Smith recently felt the same way. (Affirm their feelings.) She wasn’t sure the colorful fabric of a swimsuit would hold up to the chlorine of a community pool. She went ahead and took a chance. We chatted the other day, and she told me that she found the color did hold up, even better than she had expected. She thanked me for helping her to choose such beautiful swimwear.”

To create urgency, talk about the limited availability or seasonal nature of items. The herd effect is sometimes helpful to get people into action. This is when you talk about how many have already been sold today, this week, or month. Ask them, “How many times have you gone back to a store to buy something you wanted but didn’t buy and it was gone?” Don’t let this sort of thing happen to your customers. Be a partner and help them not to be disappointed.

Step 8—Close the Sale

You cannot be a successful selling partner for long, unless you turn your prospects into buying customers. You, and your company, must earn a profit. While I am distressed by the number of my live seminar attendees that have told me they came just to learn closes, I am encouraged by the number that “got” the partner selling basics. While closing is crucially important, there is so mush more to selling than the twisting of arms.

I love soft selling and an excellent soft close is silence. If you have enough confidence to remain quiet, simply review your offer, ask for the sale, and wait until your prospect speaks. For most people, silence is very uncomfortable. This is the only pressure I’d ever suggest you use.

Additional closes that I believe you will find helpful:

  1. The Assumption Close. As their “partner” act as if it was natural for all your customers to buy.
  2. The Act Now Close. If you snooze, you loose! Buy it today before it’s gone. Yes, this creates internal pressure, but you are not arm twisting.
  3. The Little Decision Close. First get prospects to commit to a style or color that they like rather than to making the purchase. Then try one of the other closes.
  4. The Premium Offer Close. Buy now and we’ll include…
  5. The Doorknob Close. As the customer is leaving the store, or as you are walking out of the prospect’s office, say, “Oh, by the way…I’m really interested in knowing what is the real reason you decided not to buy today?” At this point, they feel safe and will answer honestly. Then you ad a good partner can say, “Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you about…  Let me further explain…” Then go to the feel, felt, found method of overcoming objections and when you are comfortable that you answered all questions, try a different close.
  6. The Ask for It Close: There is nothing wrong with simply asking for your prospect to buy. The three great words that will change your life are: Ask For It.  Be a bold and fearless partner, overcome rejection and doubt. Always, ask your partners for their business.

While the above suggestions are not magic and not guaranteed to work all the time; in my experience the above ideas will help you to build more meaningful relationships with your prospects and customers and to sell more of your products and services more quickly.

Teaching Your Customers to Buy Better–What Can Your Customers Do for You? (802 Words)

Yes, “What can your customers do for you?”  This was the question I posed to several manufacturers and distributors in preparation for a recent seminar titled, Dealing with Vendors.  Most had a difficult time answering.  Why?  Because the focus is generally down the distribution channel, asking what else can be done for customers.  Rarely, is it reciprocal that customers ask what they can do for their suppliers.  So much profit, or discounts, depending on your side of the negotiating table, is being squandered.

What Else?

At a certain point, when you, the manufacturer or distributor, have done all that you can for your customers; given the best discounts, the best service and they want more, it’s time to turn the paradigm around.  If you take a close look at your total offering, you might find that you’ve bundled your products and services into a single lumbering package.  If you look close enough, you might find that some ‘value-added’ things you offer do not provide the value to your customers that you expect.  And, they take it any way.  They say, “It’s free isn’t it?”  No, it’s not free, and it’s your responsibility to educate your customers!

You have to partner with your customers to learn what creates value for them and what does not.  If you give your customers something in your offering that costs you time or money, and your customers don’t really need it, you are throwing valuable dollars down a rat hole. And, you don’t really have to.  Here’s what I told the school equipment and supply purchasers at my seminar in Charlotte: “Ask your vendors for a better value package.”

Better Value Package

First, I suggested that the purchasers learn what they could do for their vendors.  It was a difficult concept for the purchasers as well. Things that didn’t cost the end users money but created value for their vendors could save their vendors money.  In turn, the manufacturers could pass the savings down the distribution channel.  In turn the end users could ask for a better value package.  The ‘better’ could be bigger discounts, longer warranties and quicker service, just to name a few possibilities.

Through interviewing manufacturers and distributors, I learned what would create value for them in the school supply industry.  While the below listed suggestions might not create value for you, you must ask yourself what would create value and tell your customers.  Below, are the ten money saving ideas I shared with the school supply end users.  Manufacturers, distributors or end users can profit handsomely from the following:

  1. Specifications that are more clear and specific would allow for a sharper pricing pencil.
  2. Getting orders in earlier, during the winter, would help the workflow load. Many factories are not doing much of anything during the winter and orders coming in earlier could receive better discounts.
  3. Purchasing as much as possible from one vendor. The more comprehensive a package purchased usually generates the bigger discounts.
  4. Guaranteed shipping dates can be big savings to manufacturers of large items. When an end user calls to delay the shipping date, the manufacturer has to store it somewhere and has to pay for the storage space. Factory walls are generally not made of rubber, so they can’t always be stretched to accommodate for delays and planning errors on the part of the end user.
  5. When an end user can provide a single location for shipments rather than to several satellite locations, the manufacturer saves time and money. At the least, the end user saves shipping costs.
  6. Buying in standard industry bulk packs yields bigger discounts over buying short and forcing the manufacturer to break and repack standard industry packs.
  7. Accepting first and fourth quarter shipments from many manufacturers earn better discounts.
  8. Purchasing committees are nightmares for most salespeople.Much time and energy is wasted.Many purchasers believe this gives them additional leverage. Really, it doesn’t. It just costs everybody money. Streamline the purchasing process and receive better deals.
  9. End users can partner with one another and combine shipments in geographically intelligent areas and reduce freight costs.
  10. Cooperative purchasing saves everybody money.Additionally, some end users do not realize they are covered under state contracts and can get better deals accordingly.

What Can They Do for You?

Finally, regardless of your industry, if you are an end user, partnering with your vendors can deliver a better value package.  If you are a manufacturer or distributor, partnering with your customers is productive. Teach your customers what they can do for you.  It will allow you to give them more value for their purchasing dollar.  And you’ll get more loyalty in return.  What you really want, whichever side of the table you reside is Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs).  Build your OSRs with care and enjoy the benefits that are sure to follow.

How Today’s Distribution Partners Add Value (667 Words)

The supply chain has changed. Early in my sales career I learned the stock joke about sales people; they did the least and got the most. The same joke was told about the middleman wholesale distributor. Through the 1970s distributors were rewarded for whom they knew, for getting placement. This was because distributors could do the job (product placement and fulfillment) better than most manufacturers. Times were good; distributors were getting fat and happy.

During the 1980s the hint of change rustled through the distribution channel. Manufacturers started asking themselves, “Do we really need XYZ Distribution?” Most answered, “Yes.” But, some started making different decisions and went direct. I still remember when B&L went direct on the company for which I was a rep. I hated the >*#@%^*s. Times were changing and our country was becoming more national than regional. As the big box category busters came to life, distribution started to change. Distribution sacred cows went to the slaughterhouses because both manufacturers and users realized they had more choice than ever before.

As competition form offshore sources, global alliances and local partnering became apparent, many distributors were figuratively caught with their pants down. Many “fat and happy” distributors were enjoying the life, but not reinvesting in their business. Manufacturers were looking at world class manufacturing techniques but few distributors were doing the same in their area of the distribution channel. What does my little history lesson have to do with your life? Plenty!

Invest in Your Business

Over the last half decade I’ve researched and delivered alliance seminars to many distribution industry niches. The common thread I have seen is a general reluctance of distributors to invest in their own business. There are several reasons but it really doesn’t matter. In the end, if you can’t do it better than the manufacturer, who needs you? I know, you say, “What about loyalty?” Well, your manufacturers have been saying, “XYZ Distribution is not keeping up, we must not be important to them any more.” I realize I’m over simplifying a complex issue, and It’s not as complex as many want to make it.

Today, we are in the information age. I no longer have to get in my car and drive to the local library to get information.  Now, I simply do a few magic clicks of my computer mouse and more information is available on my computer screen than is in hard copy at my library. I still need information, but I no longer need the library. Users still need what you sell, but do they need you? Think hard before you answer the question. If you are not adding value, they really do not need you.

My primary market as a keynote speaker is trade and professional associations. For associations wishing to survive, I continually tell them that they better deliver value. They must deliver more perceived value to each member than the members are spending on their membership. People have more choices than ever before. People will migrate to where they believe they are getting the best value for their money. As a distributor you must be clear on this idea.

Value in Your Eyes, or Theirs?

What are you doing to deliver value? Really now? Are you sure those services deliver value? How do you know they deliver value? Who have you asked? Have you discussed value with your manufacturers? How about with your customers? In “Developing Strategic Alliances” I included a value update form. If you have not yet had time to read the book, here is the basic idea: Write down on separate sheets of paper the value you are getting from the relationship with each of your manufacturers and then the value you think they are receiving from working with you. Have them do the same thing, then switch. What an eye opener. Use the same idea with each of your customers. Now you will get a glimpse of what your manufacturers and customers consider as valuable. Now you can really do something about adding value to your distribution channel.

Long-Term Selling—The Relationship You Build, Is More Important than the Pressure Close (1857 Words)

“The bonds that unite another person to ourself exist only in our mind.” -Marcel Proust 

Do you want to sell more? Sure you do. But, the question is, “What prices are you willing to pay for your long-term success?” Are you willing to give up instant gratification? Many sales people are not. Why would you even consider delaying the gratification a sale, especially if you sell on commission? For your sustained selling success, I believe it is infinitely more valuable to your selling career to put off the slippery sale today, for a lifetime customer.

In our western culture, we all want it now. What is the price we pay for this hollow instant happiness? I’ll tell you, it’s the reputation salespeople have in North America. It’s right there next to crooked politicians, fallen clergy and dethroned CEOs. I have a better idea—build a relationship!

In my 17 years of outside sales and 15 years of inside selling, I learned after the first couple that selling is not warfare. Rather, selling is about building relationships. The larger your base of satisfied customers, the greater your annual sales results.

Notice I did not say monthly? If you only look at monthly figures, as too many sales managers and vice presidents of sales are prone to do, you are missing the point. I have worked with too many ignorant sales managers and general managers who were focused only on this week’s or this month’s sales dollars. It was because they worked for a company that was bleeding to death. If your company is healthy, the focus will be yearly and half-decade. If your company is sick, the focus will be daily.

Before I go any further, let me ask you this question: “Is your company healthy?” If not, why are you sticking around? There are plenty of healthy and prosperous businesses, why be a martyr and go down with the ship? If you are working for a healthy company, your company will place a high value on the relationships with its customer. Follow my RELATIONSHIP Model and I guarantee you will be successful in professional selling and loyal customer base. So loyal, that is, that your company will be afraid to ever let you become a victim of reengineering.

R is for Relax.

Relax and be authentic. This is first and foremost; trying to be someone you are not is the kiss of death in relationship building. Even if you think you can fool prospects, you are wrong. The first time maybe, but from then on, they have your number. If you decide to be the best possible you, understand that it is enough. Nobody likes a slippery snake oil salesman!

E is for Excitement.

Be excited about your product and the chance to serve your customers. Think about that monotone teacher you had in high school or college, the one that put you to sleep five minutes into the class. An unexcited salesperson is no different. Why in the world would I want to do business with somebody that does not believe in, and is not excited about his or her products or services? Let me add a caution here: if you act like a 110-volt light bulb hooked up to 220 volts two things will happen to you. First you’ll burn out in a glorious flash and secondly, you’ll be a counterfeit. Being your best includes excitement, but the excitement must be genuine.

L is for Look.

Look your prospects and customers in the eye and thank them for the opportunity to serve. Be happy they came to see you or allowed you to visit them. Today, we live in a fast paced society, even in small town America. People do not have enough time to do all the things the want to. And you, as a salesperson, are asking them for some time, a small piece of their life. Let your prospects and customers know that you appreciate the opportunity to serve them in solving their challenges.

A is for Ask.

Ask plenty of questions that will cause discussion about your customer’s desires and expectations. I’m sure you have heard that a professional salesperson talks only 20% of the time and listens 80%, but the kind of questions that you ask what will really enable you to help them meet their product or service needs. Knowledge is power and you need lots of knowledge to help the highly sophisticated buyer of today. Do not shortchange your prospects by talking too much. If you talk too much, you will be of little value to your customers, and they will have no desire to build a relationship with you.

T is for Talent.

Use your talent to be a showman. Prove how your products will make their life better. Now this is an important key; how it will make THEIR life better, not your life. Get the focus on your prospect and use sizzle to sell the steak, not the hamburger. If you are focused only on YOUR presentation, and how great a showman you are, you will miss the point and most likely the sale. Your customers are not buying the show. Many today, are in pain and do need the show to better help them understand how your product will solve THEIR problems.

I is for Invite.

Invite your customer to hold, touch, feel, ride, test, use or otherwise experience your products. Get them in the act. If they hear, they forget. If they see, they remember. If they experience, they internalize. You want your customers to internalize the value of owning what you sell, don’t you? How many people buy a car before the test drive? Not many! Put it in my hand and I am on the path to emotional ownership. If I emotionally own your product, it will be quite easy for you, the professional salesperson, to ALLOW me to buy it, don’t you think?

O is for Objections.

Objections are really questions. Simply answer their questions. The feel, felt, found method is usually quite effective here. Let’s review the method. When your prospect says “No,” agree with them and show your understanding. Say, “I understand how you feel. Mrs. Jones felt exactly the same way. Although, after she gave it a try, it performed better that I promised and …” Too often when your prospect is saying, “No,” they are really saying, “I need to know more.” If you understand this, you’ll do a better job of answering their questions. Now is the time when all that listening you did earlier pays off. With your knowledge of your customer’s need, you can smoke out the true roadblock to them having what they want. Then you can help them to buy. By doing so, you’ll also add another brick onto the solid long-term relationship you and your company enjoys with that customer.

N is for Now.

Now is time to learn the three great words that will change your life. “Ask for it!” Ask them to buy that which you know they want NOW. What are you afraid of? Perhaps you are afraid that they will like you less for asking? I assure you, they will think less of you, if you do NOT ask them to buy. They will tend to say, “Yes” as not to offend you. You must sell the benefits of your product or service and not rely on the many features. Salespeople that sell features and not benefits hear a lot of “Great presentation” or “You are a great salesperson” as their prospects walk away empty handed. Never ask prospects to buy before you give them several great reasons to do what you desire.

S is for Solve.

Solve unresolved problems, challenges or roadblocks that are keeping your customers from having what they want. This is crucial and usually occurs after one or two trial closes. You now realize there is still some area you did not cover completely, some area you over looked. Somewhere along my sales path, I learned what is called the “doorknob close.” This is helpful when you are at the end of your helping rope, ready to fall into oblivion, the place where lost salespeople end up.

Pack it all up; thank your prospect for their time and attention. As you grab the doorknob to leave, turn the knob. Stop, and turn around, still holding the knob. Ask, “Just for my information, Mr. Smith, why is it you didn’t buy today?” Listen closely—you are about to strike gold. Whatever it is that they say, respond with, “Oh my gosh, I forgot to cover that!” Now, let go of the knob and go back to your prospect and answer their last objection.

H is for Help.

Help them to buy it, ask again. Remember though your real goal is to build a powerful base of satisfied customers, not just make a sell today. Helping is also understanding that it’s possible your prospect may have a reason for not buying today. If you stay focused on the relationship rather than just the sell, you’ll be a long-term success rather than just another hotshot, hooked up to 220 volts, burning the brightest for a very short time.

I is for Inspire.

Inspire your customers to feel really good about their buying decision. When your customer begs you to allow them to buy, or simply says, “I’ll take it,” remember to guard against buyers’ remorse. Inspire them to feel really good about their decision to buy and doing business with you. Remind them, just one more time, what a good choice they made by reviewing all the ways the product or service will make their life better. Inspire them to take full advantage of your product support and customer service programs. Make them feel so good about doing business with you that they will want to tell all their friends about you.

P is for Partner.

Become your customer’s partner in total product/service satisfaction (TPS or TSS). Follow up regularly. Be certain of the value and enjoyment your customers have received from doing business with you and your company. Make certain they feel really good about buying from you 30, 60, 90 days later. Now that you truly have embarked on the path of building a long- term relationship, ask for referrals. Allow your satisfied customers to now help you in your career. Allow them to help their friends in enjoying the really good feelings they have enjoyed. Partners get real leads from their customers, not just the useless lists of names frequently given to pushy salespeople to get rid of them.

In making your deposits into the “Relationship Bank,” you are guaranteed to yield healthy returns. Position yourself as a partner. Be persistent in your selling efforts. Try repeatedly to help your prospects to have all that you know they want. Have patience—I’ve learned that being number two in the minds of your prospects will pay off. Your competitor will blow it someday, as you and I have, and when they do, there you are, ready to take full advantage of the relationship you’ve built. Building relationships does payoff. Not always today, but generally sooner than you think.

Effective Community Based Cross-Promotions (830 Words)

Local cross promotion activities generally serve small, independent, and franchise businesses. This strategy is low cost yet high return, if implemented correctly.

Cross Promotion Strategies–Kinds of Cross Promotions

  • Geographic & In-House
  • Industry Specific
  • Buying Group
  • General Category
  • Companion Products
  • Related Tie-Ins
  • Similar Customer

Cross-promotion strategies can range from highly sophisticated with formalized contracts like with the major airlines and certain telephone long distance carriers, to promotions as casual as stuffing your bags with flyers or coupons from another merchant in your community and having them do the same for you. Or, perhaps putting promotional messages on one another’s register receipts?

An insurance agent in my community cross-promoted with a local restaurateur. The owner of the restaurant paid for the printing of the insurance agent’s business cards. The cards doubled as a 20% discount coupon for the restaurant and also had a map to the restaurant on the reverse. The insurance agent gave out several of his cards at every business upon which he cold called. The cards ended up sitting around in many of the businesses for a long time. This was because the cards were seen as a valuable discount coupon rather than another salesman’s business card.

They call themselves the Sonoma County Fine Furniture Association (SCFFA). This is an example of both a Geographic and an Industry Specific Cross Promotion. Eight Northern California fine furniture retailers, all competitors, banded together to survive through cross-promotion and buying strength. They developed combined events where customers would visit several of the stores to be eligible to win prizes. They promoted each other to their customers within the store, especially if the specific retailer did not have exactly what the customer was seeking. They even printed a combined brochure, including the address and map locations of each member. The front of the brochure said, “People you can trust.” They bought advertising together on the local radio and in the local newspaper. They even dictated to the local newspaper on which pages their advertising would be located. They received impact and results.

One Step at a Time

Taking the cross promotion idea one-step at a time, consider using the below listed basic publicity tactics by collaborating with another merchant in your community to cross-promote through publicity.

  • Distribute free booklets or reports.
  • Author a book.
  • Publish a newsletter.
  • Submit news releases.
  • Write a regular newspaper or magazine column.
  • Do your own radio show.
  • Get on popular radio & TV talk shows.
  • Become an expert resource for reporters.
  • Welcome new people to your town.
  • Congratulate people in writing when you read about their accomplishments.
  • Give public speeches.
  • Sponsor public seminars.
  • Host power breakfasts.
  • Sponsor local charity or service club events.

To achieve successful cross promotions, you’ll need to develop your process or road map. I suggest these steps:

  • Be clear on what you want to create for yourself.
  • Discover the “What’s In It For Me” for your promotion partner(s).
  • Develop a plan for who does what, especially in the areas of costs and contributions.
  • Explain to your promotion partner(s) the value they will receive. Help them to also have emotional ownership (commitment) in the promotion.
  • Develop a method to measure results.
  • Execute the cross-promotion.
  • Debrief on the value all the participants received.
  • Plan your next promotion.

Cross Promotion Check List

I suggest you also use this simple cross-promotion checklist:

  • Who does what?
  • Develop a theme.
  • Explore print advertising.
  • Explore radio advertising.
  • Explore cable TV advertising.
  • Explore direct mail advertising.
  • Explore E-mail advertising
  • Divide the work equitably.
  • Is everybody going to receive similar value?

The owner of several local Dominos pizzerias suggested this to me. “When you cross-promote with non-profit groups, keep the following in mind:

  • They always tell you what they want.
  • They generally have their hand out without offering much in return.
  • Be sure you tell them what you need.
  • Ask them to do more for you than simply take your money.
  • Always use coupons to assist in measuring results.”

Customer list based cross-promotions are usually quite successful and inexpensive. Generally each merchant expands the reach of their targeted customers two-fold, at a cost of approximately 40% to 60% less than is usually spent on a similar promotion conducted solo. Additionally, each enjoys the credibility of the other. Common direct mail strategies include flyers, postcards, coupons and calendars. Flyers can be printed on both sides for a two-party promotion or several flyers can be mailed in the same envelope.

Cross-promotion is simply common denominator marketing. You find another merchant or business that has similar or overlapping markets and customers. Then you discover a way to work together to do what you already do more efficiently and effectively or cooperatively do something promotionally that neither of you could not pull off solo.

Less Work & More Results with Collaborative Marketing Relationships (1408 words)

Strategic Alliances for Cross-Promotion

A popular reason for companies to come together is to reciprocally promote one another. Ideas are as simple as a local pharmacy and dry cleaner promoting each other with specials or coupons, to regional promotions, to national promotions. Cross-promotions can be developed with competitors or between organizations from different industries. The key is simply this—do you have similar customers? Almost everywhere you look, you can see one organization cross promoting with another. Recently, a cross-promotion advertisement in a San Francisco newspaper for Pacific Bell also involved Round Table Pizza, Hollywood Video, Nokia and the Special Olympics.

In your effort to make cross-promotion alliances work, develop your process by keeping the below listed steps in mind:

  • Be clear on what you want to create for yourself or your company.
  • Discover the; What’s in it for me (WIIFM) for your partner(s).
  • Develop a list of who does what for physical and financial contributions.
  • Plan for the unexpected.
  • Explain to your partner(s) the value they will receive.
  • Help your partner(s) to have an emotional ownership in the alliance.
  • Do the above step for yourself also.
  • Execute the promotion.
  • Debrief with partner(s) the value received from the investment.
  • Plan the next promotion.

“Got Milk?” The California Milk Processors Board, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 1997, has been running that national promotion since 1993. They also put “Got Milk” on Girl Scout Cookies. They have even gotten their milk advertisements on cereal, cookies and chocolate mix packaging. Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processors Board, says, “We need those people to promote for us.” “In return, we affectionately call them co-dependent foods.”

Manning doesn’t stop there.  He convinced Dole Food Co. in Westlake Village, California to add another sticker on to their clusters of bananas for the retail market. You got it, “Got Milk” stickers. In 1997 Dole put “Got Milk” stickers on a million bunches of bananas. Milk is getting more interruptions in the minds of consumers. The more Partnering milk can do with products in other parts of the grocery stores, the more sales potential they enjoy. Dole even got an “ah ha” from the cross-promotion, they have been Partnering with Hollywood to promote new release movies such as Anastasia and Babe in the City.

Researching for a presentation for the National Home Furnishings Association, I discovered an interesting alliance in Northern California. They call themselves the Sonoma County Fine Furniture Association (SCFFA). What did they do? Eight fine furniture retailers, competitors, banded together to survive the recession of the early 1990s through cross-promotion and buying strength.

They bought advertising together on the local radio and in the local newspaper. They even dictated to the newspaper on which pages their advertising would be located. They developed combined events where customers would visit several of the stores to be eligible to win prizes. They promoted each other to their customers within the store, especially if the specific retailer did not have exactly what the customer was seeking. They even printed a combined brochure, including the address and map locations of each member. The front of the brochure said, People you can trust.  Wow, what impact!

On a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, the cabin attendant handed me my usual bag of peanuts. But, what was unusual was the size of the bag and its weight. After closer examination, I noticed that an America Online (AOL) diskette was included with the peanuts. It made sense, a business route shuttle—what a great way to get the AOL software into the hands of business people.

Forest City, Iowa, recreational vehicle (RV) manufacturer, Winnebago Industries, Inc. (www.winnebagoind.com) with sales of $665 million in 1999 and Nebraska-based sportsman’s outfitter, Cabela’s have found synergies through reciprocal promotion activities. Cabala’s has provided an ideal venue in which Winnebago dealers have displayed their RVs in more than 30 outdoor events in 1999. Most, run by Cabela’s promotional arm, Sportsman’s Quest. Winnebago products were also displayed in Cabela’s catalogs. Winnebago, in turn displayed Cabela’s products at their events.

Strategic Alliances for Co-Branding

Bringing together more than one trusted and established brand name develop a marketing synergism that cannot be beat. The advertisement headline read, Bring The Magic of Mattel Home for the Holidays. Just under the headline were several foods producing toys offered. The hook was that it showed Golden Arches type food. Mattel had a relationship with McDonald’s. And, what quality parent would deny their child the opportunity to make their own McDonald’s hamburgers, fries, shakes and cookies at home?

Nestlé/Road Gold Flipz (chocolate covered pretzels), the synergy that can be developed by co-branding is awesome. Co-branded products have, at a minimum; twice the marketing impact and customer pull as traditional branding. Consumers believe that with two trusted names, the product must be exceptional. There was one problem with the Flip though. When they were first introduced, the consumers’ acceptance was so great that the distributors had trouble keeping their stores in stock.  What a problem to have . . .

In recent years the automotive industry has found value in Partnering with highly recognizable prestigious brands of clothing and accessories. Ford Motor Company partners with the successful catalog retailer, Eddie Bauer to offer luxurious editions of their popular sport utility vehicle models, Explorer and Expedition. As customers’ perception of quality and value can be influenced through these offerings, they are also willing to pay more for the perceived value.

Ford Motor Company states, in a June 29, 1999 Ford news release, its pleasure with its Eddie Bauer relationship in a news release. “Two of America’s most enduring brands reached a milestone today in their 17-year collaboration as Ford and Eddie Bauer celebrated production of the one millionth Eddie Bauer edition Ford vehicle at the St. Louis Assembly Plant, home of the Ford Explorer sport utility.”

“It’s almost uncanny how well-matched Ford and Eddie Bauer are,” says Ford Division Marketing Communications Manager Jan Klug. “Both companies have reputations built on an uncompromising commitment to quality, durability and customer satisfaction. For our customers, this means the irresistible combination of Ford’s ‘go anywhere’ capability and Eddie Bauer’s rugged style. For both companies, it means enhancing each other’s brand.”

“It’s no secret why Ford is setting industry records for SUV sales in a U.S. market that currently has 41 SUV nameplates,” says Explorer Brand Manager Doug Scott. “We are creating products that really excite the customer. And in partnering with Eddie Bauer, we are expanding the opportunities for the Explorer and Expedition to be a meaningful part of our customer’s active lifestyles.”

Because of Ford’s success in co-brand Partnering with Eddie Bauer, they are trying to duplicate their success with Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in their limited edition Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup truck. The customized version is restyled, all-black, with distinctive Harley-Davidson orange pinstriping and chrome accessories.

“A strategic alliance between the Ford Motor Company and Harley-Davidson makes mutual historical and business sense,” noted Gurminder Bedi, vice president, Ford Truck Vehicle Center in a January 6, 2000 Ford news release. “Our common heritage as American motor vehicle manufacturers and our common centennials of 2003 were just too good to pass up as a natural business opportunity. “The partnership makes good business sense,” Bedi added. “The world recognizes both companies as original American innovators known for exciting, quality products.”

“This alliance brings together two of the most well-known and admired companies in the world,” said Jeff Bleustein in the same release, Harley-Davidson chairman and chief executive officer. “Ford and Harley-Davidson customers alike want a distinctive vehicle that makes a statement about themselves as individuals.”

Even in the recreational vehicle (RV) industry, a manufacturer sees marketing value in co-branding. Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. in Riverside, California with $3.5 billion in sales in 1999, is in alliance with Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Fleetwood has enjoyed good sales volume in its private-label RV partnership with Missouri-based Tracker Marine LP and its Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores. Fleetwood built and branded with the Tracker and Trailstar name are sold in six Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores and 56 Tracker marine dealerships. RVs promoted at the Outdoor World stores sell for a single, non-negotiable price (unique to the RV industry) and can be purchased over the Internet. Models range from a Trailstar 8 folding trailer to the 29-foot Class C Trailstar RV.

Value Through the Eyes of Your Customer (Word count 1098)

Do you think your customers appreciate the value of the value-added services you offer?

  • If you think so, just how valuable are they to your customers?
  • What are the real dollar amounts that are assigned, by your customers, to the value-added extra you offer?
  • Have you told your customers the real-dollar value amounts that you have assigned to the value-added services you offer?
  • Have you even assigned real-dollar amounts yet?

Recently, in dealing with the issue of value through the eyes of your customer, I challenged a group of sales agents for an international manufacturing company to answer these questions at their sales meeting.

You need to know this company has positioned itself as the “Cadillac” of their industry. I saw two problems with their positioning: First, Cadillac is no longer considered at the top of the heap, so the company is unfortunately stuck in an erroneous and old paradigm mindset. Second, since so much of what they offer is sold to state departments of transportations (DOTs), both the agents and manufacturer have resigned themselves to believing that only the low bid wins. Why be the “Cadillac” (thinking Cadillac is at the top of the heap) if you believe only low bit, commodity-selling wins?

I believe that this company yearns for customers that both understand the value of and appreciates top quality products and service. I also believe that they are just like so many others in manufacturing and distribution that cannot clearly articulate the total value of their offering.

So, they find themselves stuck on the “Commodities R Us” paradigm.

In this example, lets explore further. The DOTs do not only want the low cost, they also want the best total deal, or what I call the total value package. Any customer must look beyond the price to the total cost of procurement, or doing business with a particular supplier. And, it is the absolute responsibility of the sales person to educate the customer as to their total value package offering. What was surprising to me was that these sales agents had very, very few answers. What about you?

Would you agree that in retailing, distribution and manufacturing, there are few secrets? Meaning, that most purchasers know where to get most of the offerings of their industry—and most of your customers know it. With that being said, one can play the “Commodities R Us” game or do something else. The something else, I believe could be differentiation through your total value package. The challenge for you is to determine the true and honest dollar-value of the value-added services you offer.

An important element in offering understandable value is to first educate your customers in the fine are of buying better. You know what I mean—how they can change their buying behavior and if they do, what’s in it for them?

  • This could mean ordering using a timing method that allows more lead-time.
  • This could mean inventory management and automatic replenishment.
  • This could mean ordering less frequently, enabled through better usage projections.
  • This could mean distributor and contractor collaborative selling.
  • This could mean buying pre buying some supplies in a different season.
  • This could mean bundling multiple items from one specific manufacturer. This would be seen as the direct opposite of cherry picking.
  • This could mean…(you fill in the rest of the bullet points for yourself).

Value is all too frequently, as elusive as a leprechaun and his pot o’ gold—but it does not have to be this way. You simply have to figure out what your customers consider to be valuable, do it for them, and then tell your customers what it is that you did for them. This lesson was, by accident, drilled into my head very early in my own selling career.

I’ll never forget the day I stopped into Park Pharmacy in Paso Robles, California. It was the mid-1970s and I sold sunglasses to retail stores at the time. Yes, I said sunglasses! Well, when I walked into the store on one of my regularly scheduled service visits; I noticed some product from another vendor on my display. Being the territorial salesman that I was at the time, I went directly to the owner, Bob, and asked him about them.

He told me that a competitor had stopped in and told him that this particular style of sunglasses was currently a very hot item. Bob asked me, “Are they popular?” I answered in the affirmative. Bob went on to say, “That’s why I bought them.” I proceeded to tell Bob that this “hot” style had already been on the display for the last couple months or so from me. He said, “Oh!”

Gosh, wasn’t it Bob’s responsibility to know what was in his store? Wasn’t he supposed to trust that I’d take care of him? Wasn’t he supposed to be loyal to me?

You and I both know that the answer to the above questions is a resounding, NO! It was my responsibility to tell Bob what I was doing for him. If I didn’t tell him, how in the world was he supposed to know? This applies to you too. How in the world are your contractors to know what it is that you are doing for them if you don’t tell them?

Value added services are not perceived as being valuable if your customer doesn’t know what it is that you are doing for them.

Tell your customers what it is that you are doing for them. If you do not want to be relegated to living in the world of commodity selling, where low bid wins…

  1. Acknowledge that you are responsible to educate your customers as to how they can buy better.
  2. Acknowledge that you must ferret out what services your customers really do believe are of value to them.
  3. Acknowledge that you must help your customers to determine the real dollar value of your “value-added” offering.
  4. Acknowledge that you must, as you would do with your young children, continually remind your customers about the real-dollars you save them when they do business with you.

I believe that you can access that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow if you know where to look. The best place to look is at where, when, and how you choose to deliver and demonstrate that extra value-added service that you give to your contractors. It is only valuable if they consider it to be of value and they know you delivered if you tell them.