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  • Writer's pictureDominic Testo

I Referred My Competition


My industry like many other industries has been and is still impacted greatly by Covid. Global supply chains and shipping logistics are more disrupted than ever before causing headaches in all aspects of the economy. You might find yourself waiting 3 months for a kitchen appliance or 6 months for a new pick-up truck. I recently spoke to my uncle who is going to wait a year for a new boat. The more complex the product the more likely you are to be impacted. My uncle’s boat probably contains thousands of materials and parts from waterproof sealants and carbon fiber resins to small plastic injected molded parts. These parts come from hundreds of individual manufacturers at times. They all need to be made and shipped to the OEM who builds the boat. If these materials or even one of them is not available, you can’t build a boat!

Yes, this is still a sales blog, stay with me…..

Salespeople around the globe are now tasked with explaining this scenario to their customers. Some customers may be understanding and others not so much. My guess is there are some angry emails and phone calls being sent and made to sales reps around the world. This is a tough spot and one I recently found myself in. I had a long-time customer looking for a product that I currently can not supply. My product is a premium product and likely over specified for the application. They buy form me because they trust me and like me but also because they may not know of another source. Since I know my industry and the competitive landscape, I know there are other options but I’m not going to be offering them up to my customer in a normal world. What sense would that make? Hey there good customer, I think you are over specified, and I would like to turn your order away and introduce you to someone who can do this cheaper with a more generic product that will still probably work for you. Yeah right! No way! Not happening. HOWEVER, we are not living in a normal world right now as salespeople.

My customer was in a tight spot. Under pressure from his management and their end customer as well. On a human level I could sense the stress this was causing. I decided to not only refer to my competition but also make the introduction. The competitor filled the order and solved the supply issue for my customer. My customer now knows another lower cost provider exists. He may choose to make the business decision to use this new supplier long term and he may not. Either way I risked the possible long-term consequences to help someone in a tight spot. The issue at hand was solved and my direct contact was very thankful.

Lesson Learned:

Believe it or not this was not a very hard decision for me to make. It was the right thing to do. My customer was floored and could not believe that I was willing to go that far to help them out of the stressful jam. He called to say thank you and let me know he would not move the business long term. They buy several other high value products from my company and know that we are reliable, ethical, trustworthy and worth the higher cost on this one particular project. Our overall value as a partner outweighs the one-time cost difference. Believe it or not, we got talking and my contact thought of another opportunity he may have to move some business over to me instead of using a lower cost overseas supplier, one who is cheap but not very reliable. So very quickly it went from a situation where I may lose some business to one where I will probably close some additional business!

The major sales lesson here……..Do the right thing for your customers consistently over the life of the relationship. Be willing to put them before yourself when it is the right thing to do. These relationships will pay off over the long term many times over, I promise you. One sale or one commission check is not worth your long term reputation within your market.

Be a business person who is in sales not just a sales person who works for a business.

Note from the Author:

If you enjoyed this Tale of The Sale give us a follow! Even better share the link and help us grow our Tales of The Sales community. Also, don’t forget we love having guest authors. It doesn’t matter if you are a world class consultant, a VP of Sales, or a rookie who started last week. We love all perspectives and all you need is a short story and a lesson learned from it. This job is tough enough, we mine as well help each other out by sharing experiences.

Dominic J Testo

Founder @ Tales of The Sales

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