ARE YOU TAKING CUSTOMERS FOR GRANTED?
Tale of The Sale
Sammy Sales was on a road trip early in his career making sales calls from the Midwest through parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. He was still new but always showed up to his meetings well prepared with an agenda, ready to listen and educate his customers and prospects with relevant product and market knowledge. This morning his meeting was with a relatively large prospect he had been trying to break into.
When he walked into the reception area to sign in he got chatting with another sales person who was there to see the same company. This guy was 30 years older than Sammy and worked for a noncompetitive company so he spoke freely as there was no threat and they were both early.
He went on and on that he had been calling on this company for years and its one of his largest accounts and couldn’t be any easier to handle. He was telling Sammy that he only shows up to make sure he has some activity to show his boss and to go to a nice steak house that was by his hotel.
It didn’t stop there…..
The older gentlemen was repeating several times that all you need to do is put your time in and build up some business and sales in this industry and it becomes an annuity. He told Sammy that this company spends millions, and it would be impossible to change directions and go with another competitor of his. Even joking that he could double their price tomorrow if he wanted to.
The confident seasoned sales rep shook Sammy's hand and said nice to meet you while he walked with his contact into the building. Right at the same time Sammy's contact was coming out to receive him while another employee followed them into the conference room. He walked into the room and the mystery contact introduced himself and told him he was the president and owner of the company. This was a surprise as Sammy did not know he was joining the meeting. The products he planned to talk about were of strategic interest to the owner due to some changing market dynamics.
Before Sammy got any words out the owner looked at him and asked:
“How do you know that guy from XYZ company?”
Sammy told him how he just met him in the lobby while waiting and the owner went on an absolute tirade about how he can’t stand that rep and how he never shows up with any insight, new products, strategic ideas, or market knowledge. He told Sammy how they spent millions with them and it makes him angry that he does not get any value from his rep. He then mentioned that they are looking at shifting some share to another company who makes similar products as the price was close enough and the competitor had impressed him so far. The owner admitted it was going to be a pain to make changes with his customers but he had enough and was ready and willing to deal with the short term headache. The engineers and supply chain people were also directed to specify new products with the new company vs the legacy folks.
Lesson Learned From This Tale of The Sale
This may be the shortest lesson learned I have ever written. It simple. Don’t take any customer for granted. If you have visited a customer 10, 20, or 30 times over many years its easy to get lazy, complacent, and boring. If you book a meeting and your customer gives you time, show up and deliver. Bring insight, energy, and ideas. No account is safe forever and there are hungry competitors after your accounts everyday, especially the big ones!
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