Pilot Pen Introduces New Recycled BeGreen Pens

Filed Under (New Products, OP Sales Training) by Don on 16-04-2008

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One of the purposes I originally had for this blog was to introduce new products that come across my desk that have a unique place in our market.  There are dozens of new products that come out every month but sometimes a product really meets the needs of the customer in general.  Becoming more environmentally conscious is becoming more important in regards to the products we use every day, this is an area that smart dealers and reps would be wise to recognize.

I’m going to kick off the first new product by introducing the new Pilot Pen BeGreen Line of pens.  The linup is complete with rollerball pens, mechanical pencils, gel pens and ball point pens.  The Pilot Precise V5 Pen boasts an 89.2% recycled content and all their pens have the same high quality ink that you expect from a Pilot Pen.  Contact your wholesaler or Pilot rep for more details about the Pilot Begreen product line. 

I’ll be sharing more new products as I find them or if you see a unique product that fits a nich in today’s marketplace be sure to drop us a line.

Tha last word: “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” -Marcus Aurelius

Customer Service is Not a Department

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 14-04-2008

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It’s an ATTITUDE! A customer centered attitude that takes humility, tact, passion, kindness, understanding and empathy.  I always loved the phrase “customer care” because it depicts the “care” that is required to sincerely understand the wants and needs of the customer.  To truly have good customer service and support you must genuinely care about people and you must have a subservient attitude.  Look at it this way, do you go to the doctor for “service”? No, you go for “care”.  Your car gets serviced but people get care.  When you call an company with a product or service issue you hope that you get someone on the phone who will care about you and solve your problem. 

I’m sure you remember the “Golden Rule” of your childhood.  Some people say it sould be re-written to reflect our culture.  That’s a load of bull-bleep.  It says what it says for a good reason. You treat others with the same care and respect that you want in return, plain and simple.  But don’t make the mistake of disconnecting your customer care people with your managements goals and principals.  To often we read and hear advertising about how much a company’s people care about their customers but when you shop in their store you discover that their people are rude, they ignore calls for assistance and often have a lack of product knowledge.

Use your CRM system to it’s fullest capacity.  A great CRM package lets you log as much information about the customer as your fingers are willing to type.  It’s more than just a contact database, it’s a customer care database.  An effectively managed CRM system gives you insight to the customers needs.  But the system is only as valuable as the information you enter into it.  The Goldmine product integrates very well into many of the backend systems that independent dealers use but to fully recognize the true value of this product it needs information.  This information pipeline is a valuable tool for sales and customer service people and when used to its fullest can become a valuable marketing/sales tool.  But the need to use this product or anything else has to be a culture and directive that comes from upper management.  Staples has been very successful using their CRM system and recognized early on the value of CRM.  So can you!

Customer care comes from customer champions like you and I. If we don’t care about the customer, who will? And when the rude customer calls with more issues and problems that Webster’s has words just remember to “kill” them with kindness. A little love goes a long way.

The last word, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” -Colossians 3:23

Office Depot ‘Pass-through’ in California Exposed

Filed Under (OP News & Views) by Don on 07-04-2008

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There has been information floating around for several weeks about an alledged passthrough office supply company in California by the name of Epylon.  If you don’t know what a passthrough is it is an company that poses as a small business or maybe even a minority owned business that takes orders designated for small/minority business from state and deferal governments earmarked for those businesses and sends those orders over to a larger corporate company such as Office Depot.  In the case of Epylon, a California company, they pose as a small business and when state employees call and place their orders their online system actually send them back to the Office Depot website.

The Mercury News in California has an excellent investigative story that ran on the front page of their April 6, 2008 issue. Reporter Kimberly Kindy has been following the California audit and has done a great job in exposing the overcharges and passthrough issues relating to the Office Depot state contract.  In a prime example of raising the actual M.S.R.P. retail price in order to show on paper and higher discount off list the paper noted “On these items, Office Depot promised to apply a fixed discount rate, but raised the price on which the discount was applied.”  Also as found in the Georgia contract you and I could walk into an Office Depot store and buy many of these contracted items for less than the State of California is paying.  “…the Mercury News went onto the Office Depot retail Web site and found dozens of items, including data storage tapes, toner cartridges and batteries, that were either the same price or cheaper than the special rates stated in the California contract.” 

Now we’re seeing charges of “poor performance” coming from many investors and shareholders in Office Depot.  Woodbridge Equity Fund and Levitte Corp. have mailed letters to shareholders calling for the removal of CEO Steve Odland.  In their letter they state “OD’s management and board have had ample time to enact change and deliver improvements in operational and financial performance and have failed to do so. As we have stated before, OD has significantly underperformed its primary competitor, Staples, Inc., in all key retailing metrics. This demonstrates that OD’s performance issues go well beyond the current macroeconomic environment to which OD attributes all of its problems.”  The letter continues “The board’s weak oversight of management has not only allowed the Company to continue to underperform operationally, but also has raised several corporate governance concerns. Recent SEC investigations, multiple earnings restatements and the recent departure of top executives all point to failed oversight and a lack of fiduciary responsibility towards shareholders.” 

They have even began a web site devoted to this at RebuildOfficeDepot.com .  I would encourage you to read the supporting links and read the information present and make your own judgement.  Investigations and audits have now been announced in the State of New York regarding the Office Depot contracts and the states of Nebraska and Wisconsin are also looking into their contract performance.  What is your opinion? Do you think this is typical of big business greed or do you think Office Depot is the victim of poor judgement?  Research this topic and draw your own conclusion.

The last word:  “In the process of trial and error, our failed attempts are meant to destroy arrogance and provoke humility.”– Jin Kwon

It’s Not A Recession, It’s An Opportunity

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 03-04-2008

I’ll be right up front with you, I’m not a big lover of the news media.  I watch some of the major news media enough to try and sift through all the BS and determine what is true and what is hype or creative opinion.  I’m already hearing from some reps, “sales are slow”, “customers are not buying” or some other form of excuse to justify a drop in sales.  I won’t disagree that some companies may be tightening up a bit to control costs in a weak economy but I don’t see any true recession currently happening.  I may be proven wrong in the months to come and that’s fine too.  The point is recession or not, talking about it is in no way going to be an excuse for a good sales rep to not be busy.  If they spent as much time working as they did complaining their sales funnel would be filled to overflowing!

A slowing economy was always an indicator for me to use the down time as an opportunity to increase my prospecting and marketing efforts.  If I don’t have to spend as much time catering to my current clients then I will obviously have more time to spend prospecting for new clients or working on account penetration, right?  If your competition is wasting time complaining also then this is a prime chance to take their business from them!  Luck isn’t something that just happens, luck is something that you make happen.  I have complacent sales people who will never work any harder and I have hungry sales people who never take “no” for an answer.  The complacent sales rep is still at home watching Good Morning America at 8:30am while the hungry sales rep is sitting in a customer/prospects office at 8:00am.  The hungry sales person take the time to penetrate each account and develop as much business as possible.  The complacent rep walks in the door, complains about the weather, writes an order…maybe, and goes home at 4pm.  A hungry sales rep see opportunity at every corner and a complacent rep sees a new excuse to complain how slow business is with every breath.

Enough excuses people!  Spend more time networking among your existing contacts and/or join a group like Rotary and expand your contact base.  Partner with someone in a non-competing business and share contacts and referrals.  If you sell a lot of contract furniture start building relationships with general contractors and architects that have project work that can lead to more opportunities.  These contacts keep you well positioned when projects happen and can be a valuable “in” for new business.  Work smart and have a plan of action every day and when that opportunity clock rings each morning you know that it is going to be another terrific day!  You are the best rep in the company and while the other slackers complain you are going to take their business!

The last word: “It is not what you say or hope, wish or intend, but only what you do that counts. Your choices tell you unerringly who you really are.”– Brian Tracy