Rat Race Selling Anxiety
When I was a young, aggressive salesman, I worked my tail off to get new business and produced enough to be valued. I cold called like crazy, set appointments and made presentations day after day. It was a constant struggle, though, to sustain business growth as it ebbed and flowed in spite of continuous and mighty selling efforts.
There was one senior guy on the team named Richard who had all the giant accounts and he just sat there on the phone discussing business and taking big, fat orders. Either that or he would meet with his clients at the plant and entertain them as they kept an eye on their work. I suspect they also enjoyed Richard’s company and getting out of their own office for vendor meetings with a trusted, high-quality supplier.
His cup runneth over!
The real kicker about Richard was this. In spite of his already abundant sales success, most of the new business inquiries calling in would ask for Richard, and it drove me nuts! He never cold called and he never had to bang the phone for appointments like the rest of us. The biggest and most profitable business just flowed to Richard.
I liked Richard and we became fast friends but I also envied his ability to take in lucrative business without seeming to compete for it. What did he have that the rest of us didn’t?
Over the course of time and even a few career moves, it finally became clear why Richard excelled. He understood quality and he never cut corners. While I was trying to figure out ways to lower costs or match competitive price quotes just to win an order, Richard was increasing the prices his clients would pay while at the same time adding value to the total package.
The primary value that Richard added was quality-assurance. Richard’s clients knew that if they worked with him, they would get the best quality products available. No shortcuts, no surprises; just predictable high quality at a fair, negotiated price.
Meanwhile, the corners I cut in quality specs to compete on price were making some customers question the value they could expect from me in the future. It took me far too long to realize that not everyone wants more for less. I assumed price meant everything and I was trying to appease prospects I assumed were cheapskates.
Give back… to your competition!
True, there are plenty of cheapskates out there but in reality, there are lots of good people in the business world who understand what things cost. “You get what you pay for.” Those were Richard’s people! They knew that Richard understood the vital nature of high quality in manufacturing. When other people like them heard of Richard’s business approach and they needed our products, they called Richard, who else? And when Richard sensed cheapness or price challenges from a new business prospect, he would cheerfully (and wisely) refer them to competing manufacturers whom he knew would cut profits just to keep their machines running.
Be the person you would call!
The lesson here is that if you’re looking for more qualified sales leads, maybe you need to focus less on sales promotions and more on delivering premium quality to all your customers every single time you do business. Quality reputations can only be earned. If you’ve earned yours, go ahead and promote it!
Promote the one thing that separates your quality from the rest. Promote it everywhere you can. If a prospect happens to see your company promotion and call you after also getting a referral, the sale is yours! And that was Richard’s secret to easygoing sales success. He promoted quality assurance and all his customers backed him up.
Make best-in-class quality your goal. Communicate what that really costs and clearly demonstrate its value. Then deliver the best quality consistently to build your reputation. Your marketing and sales efforts will work better as the quality seekers in your market find from you the really good stuff they’re looking for.
So first ask, is your stuff really that good?