Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. This week on 2 Regular Guys we’ll be taking a look at production, sales, marketing, and other areas of our businesses, and sharing our own “war stories.” We’ll talk about real life events and how we dealt with the problems that arose from those events. If you have your own war stories, we’d love to have you come on the show to share!
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War Stories of 2 Regular Guys
Changing the profit mix (low cost/low profit items). I worked with a company once where the sales manager decided if he just had a couple of items that we sold at a lower margin, it would help us get into some new outlets and sway our current customers more to us than the competition. Everyone was thrilled when sales were up and discovered that our profits were lower than before. It turns out that the retailers we sold to had a dollar amount the planned to spend with our line. The took that money and spent it on the lower profit items. We sold more, and made less money. The solution was simply to suffer through the season with lower profits and go back to our previous profit scenario with all our products.
Figuring Out who you are as a sales person. When I got into graphics arts back in 1997 (Terry was already an industry veteran at that point) and I had to figure out what type of a sales person I was going to be. I started out as a delivery driver for a printing and label company and 2 months into that job the only sales person they had outside of the sales manager left his key under the door one weekend. The sales job was mine…
It was a war because I am not your typical predatory sales man, but my sales managers wanted me to pound the phones, insist on the sale and then move onto the next one customer. I worked in Colorado Springs at the time and HP was across the street from us and they were one of my targets. I got to know the production folks, the purchasing managers there and just listened and tried really hard to figure out how I could make their life easier. I was told it was a waste of time and company money to build those relationships so spent what little of my own money I had at the time doing this and ended up being the go to guy for printing and labels for most of the CS HP facility in 2 years. The sales manager was let go and I was made the only salesperson / sales manager for this company. I actually became friends with the former sales manager and used to have breakfast with him and we shared ideas for building relationships.
Pick yourself up. In a new sales job once, the regional manager made an appointment with an important client and we drove two hours to meet with the customer. After waiting for about half an hour, the customer walked out, spoke to the regional manager for 30 seconds, looked me up and down, and then turned and walked back to his office. The regional manager apologized over and over for the treatment. My response, “Well, at least he didn’t spit on me.” The manager said, “Oh, by the time this story gets back to the office, he will have!” Sometimes in sales you have to pick yourself up and just keep going.
How not to delegate responsibility. Early in my career I was VP of Operations with a company that tended to have all the decisions come straight from the top. Pointed out, the owner who usually personally did the yearly catalog delegated the job to two of the employees. I came in from lunch on catalog delivery day and it was as if a cloud hung over the building. Every head was down and no words were spoken. Walking into the president’s office he tossed me the new catalog and said, “Look at what they did!” The two employees sat along the wall, wordless, making no eye contact. Since I didn’t find the error right away he announced to me, “They left our out best selling product!!” The problem was fairly easily resolved with an insert that featured that product, but the delegation problem was not so easily resolved. I heard a lot of “See what happens when I trust people?!?” Delegating from zero to 100% never works. Why the President of the company didn’t choose to look at the catalog proof before printing is beyond me. Bottom line, if you are a non-delegator and your employees are not used to be given free reign, do it in increments.
Start with why. Marketing by it nature and definition is the task of persuading people to take interest in the thing you are trying to market. a constant battle I have with myself is to start with why. Think about how we always begin to talk about something or market something. We always talk about the features of our products or services. This is totally backwards from the way we should be doing it. We need to start telling the story of why we made the product, why people should be interested in your service and work our way out. For example I could say I have this awesome 44” sublimation printer that has ink costs of $115 per liter. OK, who cares. But if I said we decided to offer to you a tool that allows you to make more money, make products faster and give you peace of mind in ownership, that would matter. Then you could work out saying your tool has much lower ink costs than other products, prints faster so you can make more products and has a full warranty including the printhead from one manufacture, now we are talking.
What our customers remember. I was talking with a printer earlier this week and he gave me a great customer service story. He said he called looking for an ink order and found that it had been caught up in bad weather and delayed. He said the customer service rep overnighted at no charge a duplicate order and said to refuse the other when it arrives. Both orders arrived on the same day. He kept the first and paid for the duplicate. Made me think that it’s not the day-to-day doing what’s expected, it’s the little things you do for your customers that they remember and inspire their loyalty.
Breaking the chain. This is a huge struggle for all companies big and small and really should be the first place you go to war in your company.
to be continued…
From the Chat Room:
ErichCampbell: We do a digital art proof, then a stitch proof, then an internal proof. Approvals are so darn important for jobs and for internal work. Always a second set of eyes.
KristineShreve: I’ve never understood why owners/bosses drag out the “why do I need you” thing when you train others to do their work well. That’s basically penalizing you for doing what you should do.
ErichCampbell: Totally. Sales has to be focused on the result, not the capabilities. How will this product change the customer’s life? What does it do for them? What will they be able to do that they can’t do now? Same with decorated apparel, really.
ErichCampbell: Who is it for? How will it be viewed and in what context? What do you expect as a result? You have to answer the key questions to do the right job, not just the job that was asked for.
KristineShreve: Terry is so right about that. Talk to the customers about how you can benefit them, not about how they can benefit you.
ErichCampbell: Totally. Remember your audience.
AndreaBommarito: It’s so rewarding to give great customer service! Not only does it make you feel great about what you do, but how it turns a relationship into a long lasting customer / friendship
ErichCampbell: Sometimes even a mistake can end that way- we’ve had times where an order is incorrectly done, and we copped to the fact, replaced the garments at our cost and solved the problem, only to gain a regular customer
ErichCampbell: We always make things square, and it always pays off, even when things blow up.
AndreaBommarito: Gosh – you are old 😀
ErichCampbell: Andrea is right. If you take the risk to actually care about your customer personally and about their business you can really do it.
KristineShreve: I think it matters that we understand the industry too. So we get the pressure of deadlines and understand how a missing product can screw things up.
ErichCampbell: You can become more to them, and they will feel that loyalty.
ErichCampbell: Totally, Kristine! It’s why the movie companies come to Black Duck all of the time. We do overnight proofs to hit shooting times and they pay whatever they have to because they know we get things done and well.
AndreaBommarito: Great Show!!!
ErichCampbell: Totally great!
KristineShreve: Terry and Aaron always do a good show.
KristineShreve: I think the dog is going to eat my homework. Although I don’t have a dog, so I’ll have to find one.
2 Regular Guys Talking Decoration: Thanks guys. We love doing it.
2 Regular Guys Talking Decoration: LOL – That I have to share Kristine!
AndreaBommarito: Lol Kristine 🙂
KristineShreve: Glad I made you guys laugh.
AndreaBommarito: Just make it a picture book – should be easy enough
2 Regular Guys Talking Decoration: Thanks All!
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