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Roman or Norman?
On other hand, I recently met with a sales manager whose sales force of 25 people spent a week analyzing equipment needs of a paper mill and then delivered a thorough cost-saving analysis before customer had ever committed to spending so much as a dime.
Roman or Norman?
Which "invader" would you want on your doorstep? The answer is self-evident, and it means that when you visit that potential working partner you should be asking some questions along following lines.
"If you ran our newspaper, what would you change?"
"What products or services should we add to serve you better?"
"If we were perfect supplier to you, what would we be doing differently?"
When I was with Vortech Corporation, we had a major opportunity with IBM, but we were by far smallest of four companies competing for their business. During one of our meetings I asked buyer what we would be able to do for them if we were perfect supplier. She answered that they would like access to our computer tracking system so that they could maximize their planning. After a few calls to our plant, I found out that this would be easy to implement with a trusted client. Two weeks later we established link and locked up business for years.
Customer surveys represent another tool that far too many companies easily dismiss. Most distribute comment cards but few read them. J.W. Marriott, Sr. used to read every one and even wrote responses and followed up with managers. His son still does it and result is that Marriott led way in providing business travelers needed power and phone outlets for their laptops. They also were among first chains to offer lower cost alternatives through their Fairfield hotels, ensuring travelers a quality room that won't bust budget.
Today, we all have opportunity to learn a great deal about our clients and potential clients from newspapers, corporate reports and, of course, Internet. Just other day I received a valuable client lead, and before making call to contact, I spent 5 minutes online getting information. When I made my call, I knew company's annual sales, details about their product, their growth curve for last five years, their target market, and their perceived advantage in marketplace. I was ready, and client was pleased that I had taken time to be prepared.
The world is changing rapidly, and within months we'll all be selling in 21st century. We need to know everything we can about our customer. We need to combine that knowledge with effective plans for service, and we need to move faster than anyone else.
When our clients think of us, we want to be recognized as Romans not Normans. It's difference between being difficult to work with or giving more than you take. Each of us can choose. We don't have to wait for word from Rome. Let's start tomorrow to dedicate ourselves and our organizations to 21st century selling. It's way to a brighter future for each of us and our clients.
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Stephen Waterhouse is Principal and Founder of Waterhouse Group. They specialize in helping companies increase their sales and profits. He can be reached at 1-800-57-LEARN or email@example.com.
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Stephen Waterhouse is Principal and Founder of Waterhouse Group. They specialize in helping companies increase their sales and profits.