Posts tagged ‘Sales & Marketing’

The CMO in You!

One of the many hats the manager of any wholesale distribution branch wears is that of “Chief Marketing Officer” (CMO) for his or her location. Marketing is a crucial part of any operation’s success, but so are many other things…so it requires a thoughtful and effective approach.

So what is “marketing”? In its simplest form marketing is everything you do to put your product in the hands of your customers. By that definition, everyone in your store and every activity that touches the customer can at least loosely be considered part of your marketing mix.

The purpose of marketing (inspired by Sergio Zyman) is to sell more stuff, to more people, more often, for more reasons, to make more money.   But what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down:

More stuff – Selling more stuff means selling a wider variety of your product portfolio AND a larger quantity of the things you sell to any given customer. You sell a wider selection of SKU’s by doing things that draw attention to new or different items or product categories. After observing your customers’ buying patterns you can offer new and different options, add-ons, or complimentary items. Also, as a true business partner you should always be looking for ways to help each customer build his or her business by broadening their offering! You can sell more (quantity) by reminding customers at each transaction of the commodities they should have a deep inventory of to ensure they don’t have work stops. Also, by drawing attention to sale items and promotions, you can sell more per customer visit. Finally, through creative merchandising you can accomplish all of the above objectives much more effectively.

More people – The more people that enter your branch and place orders, the greater are your sales. The more people you reach with your messaging, offers, and promotions, the more there are that will enter the branch and place orders. The more people in your marketing database, the more people you will reach with your messages. The more time and effort your branch spends on researching, finding, and entering prospects into your database, the larger and better qualified is your database. It all comes down to awareness. Will you sell more by reaching twenty or two hundred and twenty? Another way to reach and influence the masses with little effort and no cost is through social media. Use it wisely to increase your reach!

More often – Service sells.  If you and your staff are known for excellent service you will see your customers more often.  If you are not, start there!   But merely serving well when customers enter your doors doesn’t necessarily, by itself, maximize your opportunities to sell more often. By showing greater interest in your customers’ operations, activities, and projects you can ferret out more opportunities to supply more of their work. Also, by scheduling deliveries and route sales together you can create more convenient opportunities for customers to buy what they need with less effort. By leveraging the services your company offers and the data you are normally capturing you can sell more per job as customers consolidate their purchases with you and only you. Finally, by being the most helpful, friendly, and fun supplier, your customers will feel like they’ve missed out by not stopping by!

For more reasons – So you serve well and offer more services and benefits than your competitors.  You know it, but do your customers?  And if they once knew do they still remember?  Once informed, are those reasons to shop with you top of mind with your customers every day…every transaction? No more than are all your best attributes and best efforts always in your spouse’s or significant other’s consciousness every moment. They need to be reminded – not of all the great things you’ve done, but what you can do and will do to make their lives easier. By continuing to serve well, but also by pointing out the list of advantages you provide at every opportunity and by offering them up in context at the right moments. By so doing you provide ample cause for customers and prospects to bring you their business!

To make more money – The more you sell, the more you sell it for, and the more often you sell it, the more your company makes. The more your company makes, the more YOU make!

Lead on, CMO!

Cliff

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April 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Eat Your Peas!

“Eat your peas!” 

“But I don’t like peas!” 

“Yes you do……at least you should!”

“Why?”

“Well…because they’re good for you……and they taste good!”

“They don’t taste good to me!”

“We’ll…..they should!  Eat your peas!”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve been a parent…or a child (who hasn’t) it probably does.  Removed from the situation, it also probably sounds a little ridiculous.  Sometimes we sound just as ridiculous to our employees, our coworkers, and unfortunately our customers when we tell them what they should do, try, or like.  Remember the old Alka Seltzer commercial… “Try it, you’ll like it!”?  Pretty presumptuous isn’t it?

Habit 5 of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is… “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Before you can even hope to sell, convince, or recruit others to your proposal you have to understand their perspective – their way of seeing things.  My mom used to say “Never judge an Indian until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”.  To presume what others should think, do, or like is in reality, projecting our views on others as if they were mindless drones waiting for someone to connect the remote control.

So how can you know…what others want or how they see things?  Simple – ASK!  Then…LISTEN…really listen…empathically…to understand.   Then, and only if it still makes sense, you can sell, convince, or recruit…to their needs…and not to YOUR presumptions!

Try it, you’ll like the results!  🙂

Lead on!

Cliff

November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

It’s All in Your Head

Performance follows attitude!  It’s that simple!  Let me illustrate with a personal example with one of my passions – waterskiing…  A while back on an early morning ski outing with friends I took a bad fall injuring my back – a bad thing for a skiier!  For the next ten days I nursed my back hoping against hope that I would be back in the water in less than two weeks.  It gradually felt better, but I could still feel it.  Then, the day before our next early-morning outing, I woke to the same pain as the day after the injury.  I was VERY disappointed, but resolved that I’d still go the next morning if only to drive the boat for my ski pals.  The next morning, I actually felt a little better, but the pain was still there.  Long story short, I did ski. 

On my first run, I was very tentative, certain I was REALLY going to strain my back further.  I got up, expecting the worst, did a couple of turns, testing both sides, and while things seemed to be holding together I didn’t ski at all well as I was consumed with worry and feared that things wouldn’t go well…

I rested while my mates each skied a run, and then I got back in the water.  This time, I refframed my thinking, and EXPECTED that I’d be ok, and focused on the fundamentals.  Unhampered by worry and fear, I ran off 14 of the best turns I’d carved all summer, rested a minute and then laid down 8 more great turns to the hoots and hollers of my mates.

So, what was the difference between my first and second rides?  I didn’t ski well when I was pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly protective.  But then later, optimistic, confident, and released from the fear of failure or injury, I nailed it!  The difference was…All in My Head!

And so it is in business.  When we’re pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious we often lose our edge.  But when we are optimistic, relaxed, and confident EVERYTHING changes!  Let me give some examples:

Consider two salesmen.  Salesman A is often known to say:

“Price is the only thing customers care about.”

“This is the cheapest market in the industry.”

“Our market is all bid there’s no loyalty”

“If we’re not the lowest price, we can’t win”

“Forget service and support…all they want is price”

“It’s a waste of time to try to convince someone to pay more for something”

“A widget’s a widget.  I feel guilty selling at a higher price”

“Times are too tough to sell “value”.”

Pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious statements?  You bet!  Also very real (all ACTUAL quotes)!  So how do you suppose salesman A ski’s through the [sales] day?  Probably, not very well! 

Contrast Salesman A’s negative thinking [and speech] with that of a different cat, Salesman B: 

“There are buyers who’ll pay more for better.  I’ve seen ‘em and sold ‘em.”

“Price is only one of many considerations in the decision-making process.”

“We’re selling a whole lot more than parts.”

“The price isn’t too high, unless the customer under-desires your product.”

“My success is a direct result of my preparation and attitude.”

“The more value I build in on the front end, the less important is price at the close.”

“The more I learn, about my products and service the more passionate I am.”

“I have 15% market share, which means I have an 85% share to pursue.”

“I am worth it!”

Optimistic, confident, proactive, and aggressive?  You bet!  Also real quotes.  Salesman B can’t be held back.  He ski’s through the day with power, finesse, and relative ease. 

Which salesman do you most closely relate to…especially when times get tough?  Do you become reactive, tentative, fearful, or sloppy?  Or are you more like Salesman B, Proactive, confident, sure.  The good news is that you can be either, because…….It’s All in Your Head!

 Lead on…

Cliff

April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am 2 comments

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you meet are also the first to say “thank you”, and that the most frustrated, selfish, and cynical rarely acknowledge or express gratitude?  Why is that?  Is it because happy people have more to be thankful for?  I don’t think so.   I believe theirs is an attitude of gratitude that is born out of a unique perspective of wonder and contentment.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of all Americans don’t expect to receive a thank-you card or note after giving a gift.  Unfortunately the age-old custom of sending thank-you notes and cards has nearly been forgotten.  The survey, commissioned by the Society of American Florists found that most people don’t even expect an in-person [verbal] “thank you”, a phone call or even an email “thanks”.  How sad! 

Now, don’t misunderstand…I’m not suggesting that we as doers and givers should be seeking recognition and gratitude from others; that’s not the point.  The point is that we as a people are gradually drifting into a state of thanklessnessIt is a problem, especially in a country where prosperity and plenty have given Americans more material blessings than any people, at any time, in history.  People who don’t show gratitude are less likely to treat others with respect.  They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and show a lack of regard for everyone but themselves.  They are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal…and to complain that they are “entitled” to what others have.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day – the one day of the year when many pause to consider all that they have been given.  Some even call this time of year “the season for giving thanks”.  But gratitudereal thanksgiving – knows no season.  It is not an event that we “do” and then set aside for the rest of the year.  Real gratitude is a character trait of people with real characterGratitude indicates an attitude of humility (the opposite of Pride–the first “deadly sin”) and acknowledges one’s dependence upon others.  I cringe when I hear people say “he’s a self-made-man”, and worse when I hear of people who they themselves think that of themselves.  None of us are self-made.  None of us are successful by our own merits…no matter how challenging our lives may be.  There is always a friend, a parent, an advisor, an author, an employee, a customer, a teacher, an inspiration, or an artist that leads us to achievement.  I work for a guy who understands this.  He’s the CEO of one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country.  Yet every day as people leave work and he hears the “goodbyes”, he calls from his corner office “thanks for the help”.

The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of gratitude at all times and under all conditions.  To look for and recognize the blessings and gifts that just come to us.  To always thank others for help, for things, for ideas, for anything we can find an excuse to express gratitude for.

At a time when people are “thanking” less, what an opportunity to set ourselves apart.  Commit to sending one thank-you card a day to a customer, or looking for one thing to thank an employee for each day. As we do, wonderful things will happen to us as individuals, to those we thank…just watch…

Lead on………..    Cliff

November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

Great Expectations

You’ve heard the advice… “Over promise, then under deliver…and you’re sure to disappoint”.  Few things can break trust or weaken relationships more.  Making a habit of it can be “fatal”…especially in trust-based relationships.  Conversely, sound customer service is built upon “under promising and over delivering”, thereby creating situations and results that thrill and excite customers.  The interesting thing is, that while the actual quantity, quality, or degree of what is being “delivered” COULD be exactly the same in every case, it’s the relative expectations that determine the level of satisfaction…and trust.  If you expect a half glass of juice and receive a half glass, you’re satisfied.  If you expect a full glass and receive the same half glass, you’re unsatisfied.  If, on the other hand you expect only a sip of a juice and you receive a half glass, you’re elated!  Again, it all depends on expectations.  The following illustrates well this relationship between expectations, “delivery”, and trust!

I once heard a man talk about his life growing up on a ranch where he worked with his father and brothers raising cattle and horses in southern Utah and northern Arizona.  He was taught as a boy that when he wanted to catch one of the horses to ride, all he had to do was to put a handful of grain into a bucket and shake it for several seconds.  It didn’t matter if the horses were in a corral or a large field; they would come running to get the grain.  As a horse would eat, the young rancher would gently slip a bridle over its head, and prepare the horse for riding.  He was always amazed at how well this simple process worked.  Occasionally though, when he was a little lazy, and didn’t want to take the time to get the grain from the barn, he put dirt in the bucket and shook it, attempting to trick the horses into thinking that he had grain for them to eat.  When the horses discovered they had been deceived, some of them would stay, but most would run away and be nearly impossible to catch.  He said it would then take several days to regain the horses’ trust.

And so it is with service…no matter where it is given…whether it’s at a sales counter, or to your employee, co-worker, boss, or family….anyone that relies on your service, your promise, your “delivery” to them.  Do you over promise…then under deliver? Do you say what you think they “want” to hear, knowing full well you won’t be able to “deliver”?  Do you falsely build expectations by not telling the whole story?  Do you stretch the truth, exaggerate the benefit, or say whatever it takes in order to get what you want…now?  If you’re a manager, a professional, or a parent, your “customers”, those you serve and whom depend on you, expect a higher standard; Anything less is a disappointment!  Think about your “customers” and ask yourself, “what do they expect from me?” Then with that as a minimum, decide what you’ll do today, next week, or next year to exceed their “expectations”… Keep it interesting…keep ‘em guessing…and keep delighting them… They won’t just be “customers”…..they’ll be raving fans!

Lead on…

Cliff

June 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

“The Bright Side of Failure”

There’s an oft told story of a happy little boy who went into a field wearing his baseball cap, carrying a bat in one hand and a ball in the other.  He stopped, squared up, and confidently exclaimed “I’m the greatest batter in the world!” then tossed the ball in the air and swung as hard as he could…missing the ball completely. “Strike one” he said.  He picked up the ball, and again tossed it in the air exclaiming “I’m the greatest batter in the world.” A second time he missed… “Strike two,” he said.  He picked up the ball again and carefully studied it…as well as the bat.  He adjusted his cap, then tossed the ball into the air for the third time, repeating again, “I’m the greatest batter in the world!” He swung with all his might…completely missing the ball for the third straight time.  “Strike three” he mumbled sadly.  Then, suddenly, a grin spread across his dusty face and he yelled, “Wow! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

Often, even when we do our very best, things just don’t turn out as planned.  That’s life!  What happens next though is completely up to us.  We can beat ourselves up and become discouraged…or we can look at each failure as valuable experience.  In the process of striving toward a worthy goal we often discover our limitations.  But just as often, lying nearby in the ashes of failure are the embers of success.  There, barely visible to all but those who know to look for them, lie clues to opportunities, gifts, and talents that can lead to great success.  The key to their discovery is how we respond to failure.   If discouragement had been allowed to rule the day there’d be no penicillin, Teflon, microwave ovens, post-it notes, potato chips…or chocolate chip cookies…that’s right…no chocolate chip cookies!!!  Instead of wallowing in failure these products’ inventors were able to spot seeds of new opportunity…truly turning lemons into lemonade!

It takes practice to develop the skill of finding the brighter side of failure, but it’s a skill that can be developed by anyone.  A still greater opportunity lies in helping others discover the good amidst the bad, the wins among the losses, and the opportunities among the failures.  Whether one comes by this ability naturally or not, great leaders recognize the value in developing it, and then helping others to do the same.  Lead out by setting the example of finding the bright side of failure, and then become a great [pitching] coach by encouraging others to do the same. 

Lead on…

Cliff

 

June 15, 2010 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap…”

Sound familiar? You might remember this verse from Sunday school or from more recent study.  It is a profound principle with powerful implications. It is an enduring principle with a promise that underlies everything we accomplish, or fail to accomplish during our lives. It is the key to joy and abundance or to failure and frustration. It is a sure promise – as sure as the sunrise or sunset.  If we do something, something happens. Everything in nature and in life is based on this principle. We control what we sow, and in that way only we exercise SOME control over what we reap.

Yes, sometimes there are outside (uncontrollable) factors at work. My Mom and Dad for instance led great lives. They worked hard, planned carefully, spent frugally, exercised consistently, ate impeccably, and served tirelessly. Theirs were happy, healthy, full lives…..in life they truly reaped what they sowed. You’d have thought they’d live forever! However, Dad, at a very young 69 years of age was consumed by a rare cancer in less than six weeks…..and Mom passed away just a few months laterfrom the same foe (cancer).

“So, why bother?” some would ask. “Why even try to plan, to work, and to improve?” It is true that any one of us could be removed from this life at any moment by causes beyond our control. BUT, while we live, while we are able to choose what it is we will sow in our lives, we can rest assured that while we live we will reap and receive in life what we put into it. Effort produces results, honesty builds trust, respect leads to cooperation, and healthy living improves the quality of life. As Montaigne so aptly wrote, “the value in life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them”.

Lead on……….. Cliff

April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm 4 comments

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