The Whistle Dog Factor

Or how $.25 destroyed a customer for life

The facts have not been changed to protect the guilty.
Gourmet Grilled All Beef Hots Dogs
Gourmet Grilled All Beef Hots Dogs with Sides and ChipsOK, I admit it I have a secret love of hot dogs, to be specific an A&W Whistle Dog, Onion Rings and Diet Root Beer. Now don’t get me wrong this is not a daily or even weekly thing, but it was a twice a month thing. So you say, “OK you like some fast food every so often, what’s that got to do with a sales based blog posting”. Well this is where things get interesting. My regular Whistle Dog fix costs me about $11.50 a hit and I go twice a month so that’s $23.00 a month or $276.00 per year.

I am a nice, quiet, very predictable, repeat customer and I bus my own table when done. This makes me pretty much every A&W shop owners dream customer right? You bet right, so then why am I now being charged $.25 for one little plastic disk of BBQ sauce to go with my onion rings? I mean WTF. I am seriously miffed.

I think it was Robert Burton (and not Ben Franklin) who coined the phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” and that’s exactly what is going on here. I just dropped $11.50 on a hot dog, badly cooked onions rings and $.03 worth of root beer and they have the nerve to put the touch on me for a single serving of BBQ sauce?

Well first I asked the sales clerk if she was serious, and she was so I very politely paid the lady the $.25 and have not been back for two months, those two months will just keep going and going as I have now started my one man boycott against dumb sales policies and practices. Be warned from now on if I see them, or experience them I am going to write about them.

Yes, the A&W shop owner got their $.25 and now I am going to keep my $276.00/year times the next 20 years and believe you me that $5,520.00 plus inflation is going to by me… well I guess I am on the lookout for a new hot dog shop. Oh and I do hope that the A&W shop owner comes to realize that no matter how many coupons you give it, it will never make up for “Taking Your Customer For Granted”.

OK, my rant is over, now let’s look at the sales lesson, you have a fully qualified customer, who is paying their bills on time, every time, so what happens? Some number-cruncher in the organization says we are losing money on (enter your example of the BBQ sauce here) and we have to pass this charge onto the customer no matter what.

If you agree to start doing this; congratulations you have just joined the Penny Wise, Pound foolish club. You will lose customers by the dozen all because you did not follow one of most primal product pricing policies… Thou shalt not insult your customers by “nickel-and-diming” them.

There are dozens of pricing strategies to not only get incidental costs covered but to use them to build customer loyalty (none of which appear to be covered in the A&W shop owner’s operations manual).

Now apply this our daily industrial sales reality, we are busting our back sides, to make sales worth thousands of dollars a unit. Getting sales, providing great service and earning customer loyalty is hard work. Are you losing sales, sometimes big sales over policies and practices that are seen by your customers as them getting nickel-and-dimed?

Three key questions:

1.     Are you’re pricing policies and/or practices triggering negative emotions in your customers, compelling them to go shopping?

2.     What if your biggest barrier to more sales is the pricing program you are following?

3.     Are you taking the $.25 as asked for and trading away loyal customers for life?

If you want to know more get in touch.

The Trust Factor

The Trust Factor.

When I have dark moments of self-doubt (and I do) and question my direction, value, skills etc… I cut the negative process short and head instead for the “Red Tin”. In this “Red Tin” I keep the original copies of every recommendation and/or testimonial I have ever received going back to the 80’s.

If you read these you will quickly note what they do not say is… you said you would… and then sort of came close. Instead they say, you listened, understood and then just shut up and did the right thing, and you did it over and over to earn my trust.

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These documents are all past tense, they speak to what was done, not what was promised. They speak to listening, little talk, and much action, they speak to investing in learning the real needs of the customer and meeting them head on, they speak to putting others first to then gain the reward of a long-term, profitable relationships.

Today, too many sellers are just pitching the stuff they are “told” to sell, they are not sales professionals, they are order takers. A sales processional seeks to understand a true need and then fill it. They seek an honest relationship, one in which they earn an equal voice with the buyer and can either agree or disagree with the buyer to truly define needs and then fill them.

Is todays, wham bam, thank you man, sales approach what is missing is “TRUST”, trust that the seller actually cares about the buyer needs, and trust that the seller is actually looking out for the buyers long-term, best interests.

The overriding problem is time, companies looking to grow and their sales people do not understand that developing real relationships takes time, and is much more about hearing and not about pitching, it’s about listening and not about talking.

ThisSales Statistics chart, to my experience is brutally true. Most sellers quit round about the 2nd call when in fact the sales magic happens in the 5th to 12th call or direct contact with the buyer.

It may appear counter to what you are being told today, but taking time to get to know someone and their needs, while slower and far less fancy is in fact a clearer path to more sales and thus more commission that any other sales approach.

Being a genuine human being, caring about others first, is in fact the fastest way to forming a trusted relationship, and in the cold light of dawn, buyers will always choose to do business with those they know and trust above anyone else.

All I can say is that anything worth doing, takes time. Relationships take time, understanding takes time, but from relationships comes trust, and from understanding comes sales orders. From meeting needs over the long run comes reputation and from a positive reputation, the testimonials and letters of reference. All hard-won and of deep value, that endlessly reaffirm that I took my time and did it the right way.

Are you an order taker or a sales professional?

http://www.wiebeindustrial.com

What’s Today’s Challenge?

In just the last week we have encountered the following sales client challenges:

  1. How to find qualified, self-motivated sales staff?
  2. When to hire, who to hire?
  3. How to manage the post application process for internal candidates who applied for sales positions but did not get selected for the position?
  4. Who to send to a major international trade show?
  5. Do I hire a technical sales representative to take over part of my sales responsibilities or an executive assistant to leverage more time to sell?
  6. I don’t have enough sales horsepower but I have 200 qualified leads in a company whose average sales is 5mm/sale?

Read more

It’s Dollars Not Deals

Once again I have been witnessing an exchange of opinions on how to account for sales performance, this time taking place inside a Linked-In™ sales management group. I continue to be amazed that anyone who calls themselves a “sales professional” would engage in using a “deal count” as a “sales close ratio”.

The bottom line in sales is dollars not deals.

Case in point (names changed to protect the guilty):

If Sally writes 100 quotes in one month worth a total of $250,000.00 and then closes 50 deals worth $32,000.00. Her deal close rate is 50% but this is not SALES, this is deals!

Sally’s close rate is $32,000.00 / $250,000.00 = 12.8% and Sally sucks as a sales person.

Sales people like Sally, want to avoid accountability at all costs. When they are in the accountability spot light they want to be reviewed for non-tangible performance, such as time with customers, solving claims/credits etc. Then, when under real pressure, will throw out their quote to closed deal ratio as a key performance metric, in hopes of a positive review. This type of sales person wants top salaries, company cars, perks, spiffs along with no quota’s or commissions.

Sam wrote the 100 quotes in the same one month period worth a total of $250,000.00 and then closed just seven deals worth $167,000.00. His deal close rate is just 7% but this also in not SALES, this is deals.

Sam’s close rate is $167,000.00 / $250,000.00 = 67% and Sam is a rock star sales person.

True sales professionals only want to talk in terms of accountability, since real accountability “defines” real sales performance. Sales professionals like Sam want top commission rates and hold their sales quotas in contempt as minimum standards, they want car allowances, spiffs and scotches as tokens along the road to their success. Yes, they will take your perks; however, they really are focused on managing their sales franchise to their (and thus your) maximum benefit.

The difference between Sally and Sam is the attitude. Sally complains to all who will listen to her about her poor lot in life, her bosses’ unrealistic demands or her thin bank account. Sally lives a negative and unbalanced life, working paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, Sam spends his time in self-improvement, learning about his customers and sharing his positive attitude; not by talking about it, but by demonstrating his positivity to all he comes into contact with. Sam lives a positive and meaningful life, paid for by selling value into his many professional relationships.

Raising Employee Engagement Brings A 9% Increase In Operating Profits

Great but how do I make that happen? You start by shifting employee attitudes and to be more specific your attitude which is far and away the biggest single item that will determine your ability to get along with others, define what plans you will make and how you will execute those plans. The results of engineering this shift is well researched, for every 1% improvement in employee engagement you can see up to a 9% improvement in operating profit[1] .

Thankfully building a great attitude is a skill set than can be learnt and developed, allowing you to get significantly more out of life and business. Your positive attitude, or lack of, is what attracts or repels the people you come into contact with, and nowhere is this truer than in sales and customer service. We have all encountered the condescending, rude and/or fully disengaged sales person, these are examples of the negative engagement we encounter every day and unfortunately, too often found in our own businesses.

To take your engagement and your business to the next level you need to know three things:

  1. That a positive attitude is the result of deciding to have one;
  2. It will only work for you in direct proportion to the effort (learning, training, practicing and consistent application) you put into it;
  3. That attitude, both good and bad is highly contagious. As such when you develop and role model a positive and engaged attitude you lead others towards the same.

Do you have a positive attitude (most like to think they do, but, in fact do not)? Most do not understand that their lack of positive attitude and disengagement is keeping them from their own goal achievements.

Crafting a progressive attitude, and resetting your goals based on it will raise yours and others engagement levels and excel you towards the accomplishments you are hoping for.

Thanks for reading

Gerry L. Wiebe, Founder | President

[1] Sources: Gallop, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, IES & Towers Watson.