Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Few Sales Calls

Today was a great day for getting out and making calls on customers and prospective customers -- which is just what I did. Because of my general management responsibilities, I don't get to go out to my customers place of business on a regular basis. It is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. It is crucial that I talk to them about what's important to them, about how we can provide better service, about where they are headed with their business and what is shaping their decisions. That kind of input from customers is critical for my business as we shape our strategy for the future and as we adjust tactically to meet the current demands/needs of our customer base. It is also enjoyable to me to prospect for new customers. In some ways, it is like trying to solve a puzzle. How can we meet their needs? What do we offer that will benefit them? Why are they not our customer currently? -- and a million more questions. Many times that is the key -- asking the right questions. Once I understand their needs and what their objections are, I can shape an offer that meets, or exceeds, their needs and overcomes their objections.

People are interesting. Most are driven by completely selfish desires. It seems to be what makes this world tick. There is a constant "what can you do for me" attitude. It is sometimes expressed as a "why are you taking up my time" attitude. Rarely do you find individuals that are at least somewhat altruistic in their approach to life. Those individuals are motivated more by "what can I do for you" than the opposite. There is a rather interesting argument about what type of person makes the best salesperson. Most corporations look for someone that is highly motivated to succeed. Their definition of success is totally focused on money and production. So, they look for salespeople that are greedy. They want someone who is driven to make more and more money because that is the only way they know to motivate them. Interestingly, some of the most successful salespeople that I've ever met are just like a good teacher. They feel called to be in sales. That calling is one of providing the best possible product at a fair price that will solve a problem for someone else. The type of individual that best fits that role will walk away from a sale if he thinks the customer is making a mistake in purchasing what he is selling. If he isn't able to help his customer, he won't try to "finagle" a sale just for the sake of profit. He's in it for the long run. He knows that he must provide value to the customer in order for the customer to continue to rely on him to fill his needs. The best salesmen give more than is expected in the way of value and service. Their customers love them. I think Sam Walton said something to the effect that "great wealth will come to the person who gives the greatest value to his customer. The amount of wealth gained depends on how much a person gives or serves."

It seems to me that's an attitude that we all need to take in life. Give of ourselves to those around us. It is sometimes very difficult to do -- especially when it interferes with what we want to do. However, I truly believe that the rewards are great to those who give the most. It seems to me that Jesus said something like that -- you must give to receive, you must die to live. This world would be a better place if we all practiced those principles.

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