From Reception Desk to Receiving Dock, Do You Really Know Your Customer?

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 26-05-2011

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The ease with which we communicate to our customer via email, text messaging and other digital forms makes a lot of our customer contact very impersonal.  Of course this is widely accepted in our age but at what cost?  The result is we fail to reach all the potential purchasers and users of the products we sell.  Recent statistics show that 35% of the non-regular purchasers of business products go outside of the normal purchasing channels of their company and submit for reimbursement later.  By avoiding the personal customer interaction we are missing on opportunities to further build and strengthen our relationships within each of our customers/clients offices.  Not to mention keeping an eye out for the stray competitors shipping carton hiding out somewhere in the office.

What’s the remedy?  Sales people need to take the time at least once every six weeks at the most to physically visit the customers office and take time to meet and greet everyone possible so the staff knows who you are and what services and products you provide.  If possible hand out product samples and a business card and let the staff know you are available for product questions and support, presuming this is agreeable with your primary buyer.  On a recent field sales call with one of my reps upon ‘socializing’ with some of the office staff I learned that they were discharging their janitorial crew in favor of doing it with in-house associates.  This information allowed us to open a conversation on providing their JanSan products and dispensers.  The call ended up very productive and we landed a very nice piece of new business that we didn’t have before.  Remind your outside reps of the importance of really knowing your customers and you may find your sales increase and your business solidified.

The last word: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

United’s Vision 2011 Event Brings a Crowd

Filed Under (OP News & Views) by Don on 23-05-2011

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I was fortunate to once again attend United Stationer’s Vision show/event this year held last week in Orlando Florida.  Their previous event was held at the same location last in November 2009 and I must say that in my opinion this show had more attendees than previously.  The location at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resortis a beautiful facility and the grounds and golf course are second to none.  United does a great job on their event and this is the fifth United Stationer’s show I have attended.  I have not had the privilege to attend an SP Richards show so I can’t compare theirs to United’s but I have never been disappointed at the event hosted by United (USSCO).

I spent a lot of time this year speaking to other dealers from around the country and I’m never disappointed with the humble temperment and genuine good-heartedness of most dealers.  One very noticable difference this year was the number of attendees in their 20′s and 30′s.  I’ve thought for many years that our industry didn’t do a very good job of attracting workers in this age group but this year proved me wrong.  I heard very little negativity from dealers regarding the economy and most told me that they have learned to do business on a different scale than in years past.  They are reaching out utilizing different methods than before and don’t fear the big-box competitors.  I think the issues the last few years regarding some of the big-boxes have made many dealers realize that we/they can compete on price and when it comes to service we (independent dealers) blow them out of the water.  I’ll discuss some of the other things I learned during future posts so visit here again in the next week.

My compliments to United Stationers on a great show, excellent seminars, and to our host site for great food and a spotless facility.  Kudos to Hewlett-Packard for their Tuesday night party and to all the vendors for their support and participation which makes the event possible.

What was my biggest take-away from this years event?  Jay Baer and his discussion on social media.  Do you participate in Twitter of Facebook as a business?

The last word: “If you live your life in the past, you waste the life you have to live.” -Jessica Cress