Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: Stop Saving Your Competitors Salespeople

Sales is a tough job. Tougher than most and pays accordingly. Without sales whether generated via an actual person or via some form of advertising – there is no business. “Elementary” you’ll say of course. However, what gets lost on both many a business as well as salesperson is this: Exactly when is a sale not a good sale when by definition the most important parameter of all sales (e.g., an acceptable net profit) is met? Are not all these sales good sales? And should you ever turn down a “good sale?” The answer may surprise you.

Case Study:  One thing I learned early in my sales career was the undisputed fact there would be customers (as well as potential one’s) that will take advantage of not only the unsuspecting novice, but also the veteran using the “dangling carrot” method of future business. Here is where “hope” meets “hopelessly strung along.” Many a salesperson has fallen prey to the “Quote me a price for usage via the ton!” Only to never receive an order for more than a few pounds. It’s always followed with excuses such as “Don’t worry, you were right there in the bidding process.” Or, “You were close.” Or, “We’re changing things soon throughout the process. Just be patient, at least you’re already In!” and on, and on. Problem is those long-awaited changes or promises seem to always remain just that – long-awaited.

Everything changed when I no longer waited for promises. I demanded the business accompanying the quotes for service. In other words, if someone was quoted by the ton and ordered by the pound – pound pricing is what they received. Unlike most I did not run to management demanding (or begging) for special dispensation for the “promise” a large order was just around the corner. This was usually held under the auspices of: if I didn’t adjust my price this customer has made clear “not only will we ever get another chance to quote. They may stop using me/us all together if we don’t adjust.”

My career as well as sales ranking began to take off in earnest the day I stated to a usually stunned in-silence recipient, “Fair enough. However, you asked for tonnage pricing and haven’t ordered tonnage weights. If there’s anything I can do for you in the future, feel free to call me anytime.” And either headed toward the exit, or, hung up the phone.

Previously I had accepted “dangling carrots” that were never realized because I would settled for the “greens” rather than demanding the whole vegetable which I was promised. Another in similarity happened routinely when a customer who did 10% of his business with me had an “emergency situation” where his 90% vendor supplier couldn’t fulfill an order or promise. Suddenly I would get a call either 1 minute before the end of business. Or worse, 15 minutes before a weekend or holiday. Suddenly my services were the only services that could save the day.

The promise of this now sizable order was enticing especially when it was followed with “And this is your time to shine and maybe get more of the business we’ve talked about!” However, once again the silence was deafening when I followed it up with, “Sounds great! So I’m going to now be of the understanding I will have all that business beginning Monday.” Again, it was when I began demanding that “promised” then and there is where both may sales numbers as well as career took off exponentially.

You see what I had been doing more often than not was not saving or helping out a “customer” in need. I was actually more often than not saving the rear end of my competitors sales person. After all, it was they that could not deliver and were leaving this customer to fend elsewhere. And they were not only getting the bulk of the business – but would get the bulk of it on Monday once again after their lack of fulfillment was recused via my efforts. For it begged the question, a question I now put forth in earnest: “If I’m the one that can help and not your ‘go-to’ supplier, why are they your ‘go-to’ to begin with and not me?”

When the insinuation was clear that I would be more or less returning to “dangling carrot” status I simply but firmly stated “People do business with me for exactly what you’re doing now. When they need something they know I won’t leave them hanging such as your current supplier seems to have done to you. If I were your main supplier I would be aghast at the position they seem to have put you in. I don’t let that happen to my customers especially when I’m their main supplier or considered ‘go-to.’ If you want that type of dedication and loyalty I’m more than gladly to help, but it comes with that level of order size or ‘go-to’ status. And if you’re not willing to change that to me, since I’m the one with the resources to accommodate on such notice, I think it would be best to make further demands back to your supplier and demand they clear the mess they’ve obviously put you in. For in reality, if my proving I’m the company you can count on during an emergency, and that isn’t proof enough; all I’d be doing is saving that salesperson’s/companies rear end. And that’s not good business.”

Lest you think all the above is hog-wash, or, works in principle not in practice I’ll just add this. I went from “just another salesman” to top of my field where my sales were 10 times the average, and went on to run as well as turn around the #2 largest privately held company of its kind in New England following the above principle.


© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.