It’s All in Your Approach

July 15th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

This week I want to share some examples regarding salesmanship with examples from Froghair’s business reps and vendors. We had a poor experience with one and a great experience with the other. These are wonderful examples of how we can more effectively sell and communicate. The following is a transcript of an office meeting we had last week at Froghair.

Rich: Ok, today’s meeting is specifically talking about what we can do to sell and communicate more effectively. We’ve recently had a couple of both great and not-so great experiences. Curtis, would you start us off with your experience today?

Curtis: First call I get this morning is one of our carriers on the East Coast saying the vendor won’t let them in the gate to pick up product. Odd, because this is the third of three shipments and the previous two shipments were uneventful.

It turns out that the product wasn’t ready, even though it had been communicated eariler by our rep that it was infact ready. I had already been on the phone for an hour trying to solve this particular problem and trying to figure out why we couldn’t pick up our product we had already paid for when in walks our vendor rep. I knew he was coming in that morning and had a vague idea of when to expect him, but he just happened to walk in at the height on my frustration. He walks in and tells me that I was wasting my time. He told me that this was MY fault because I didn’t schedule the pickup time.

Well, this was news to me since I didn’t have to do that with our previous two shipments and told him as much. He said, “Well, that’s the way it is. That’s they way it happens, you just weren’t involved in it.”

Well, the next several topics we spoke about also ended up being my fault: from defective products we’d received to under-communicated expectations. Needless to say I was visibly frustrated. Rich identified that it wasn’t going well and that I was getting flustered, and Rich stepped in and said, “It’s all good, it’s all going to work out.”

Rich: Let me add somewhat to the story. I was boiling mad underneath as well. I was the one that let him in this morning, saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were coming.” This first thing he does is walk in and exclaims, “I want to see the product.” Those were the first words out of this particular salesman’s mouth this morning. I thought, “You have got to be kidding me.” He didn’t say, “I am so concerned about our customers. How can we reclaim this?” There wasn’t any tone of regret. You have to agree this is not a posture you want to see from a salesperson.

Curtis: Well, I thought it was just me. He could see I wasn’t happy. It just escalated as we were both frustrated. I would have expected him to have a different approach coming into the office.

Rich: Particularly when the vendor shipped the damaged product that almost lost us the whole deal. We were the ones that had to go out and reclaim the customer’s good faith. You have to admit it as pretty brazen on a best case to send old, damaged, broken product and then say, “It’s your fault. You just don’t understand the situation. The product is the same as it’s always been. It’s just a packaging difference. Now in contrast here’s a completely different approach.

Curtis, tell us what Callaway did for us and what we did in return.

Curtis: Well, it was actually with the help of Emily. Last year Rich, Shane, and I went out to Callaway to their hitting bay and as a parting gift they gave us a bunch of Froghair logoed golf balls. It was really awesome. I mean, they didn’t have to do that. It was a really nice perk. It just so happened that we just accelerated our business with them over the last six months: the growth has been incredible. Callaway has since commented that that is the best return on an investment that they’ve ever received doing golf balls for a company.

Well, it meant so much to me that we decided to take part in a little subterfuge. We knew the name of our Callaway rep’s favorite restaurant but we couldn’t find the right spelling or location. We ended up calling our rep’s assistant on the down-low and told her, “Don’t let anyone know, but we can’t figure out this restaurant and we need your help.” ?She gave us the right spelling and address. We then called the restaurant and purchased gift cards to the restaurant for her and her boss and we sent those by mail without any sort of telegraphing. Two days after we sent that we get a phone call from Callaway. “You guys are so cool! I can’t believe that you went to that extent. How did you know I loved that restaurant?”

This gesture went a long ways and to this day I’m still taking withdraws from that deposit of goodwill. Callaway loves Froghair. They don’t love Curtis or Emily or Rich. They love our culture.

Rich: That is what we’re about when we talk about salesmanship. It’s not just about getting an order that is ‘x’ amount of dollars. It’s about selling our culture and reciprocating that and identifying those connections with our partners. Contrast the two examples. Do you think we’ll jump at the chance to do business with the first or second rep the next time we get the opportunity?

Look at the way you interact with your employees and customers. What messages are you sending and what culture are you creating in your business? Find a way to connect and you will build strong and lasting relationships in your business.

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