October 28, 2014
For all of us in sales, it’s all about now. Making this month’s/quarter’s numbers. While there’s nothing wrong with this, we all need to step back and look at the total value of a customer. We need to realize, that even though we got this sale, it doesn’t guarantee the next one.
I know most manufacturers sell through distribution networks and often you don’t know who the actual end users are. But for those of you who offer something other than consumables, there are ways, e.g., warranty cards, that will give you access to the user and related products.
So what are you doing about keeping that lifetime customer? First of all, we need to not take advantage of or assume that all future orders are a lock for you. Remember, they do have other choices.
We need to have the mindset to earn every piece of future business. What can you do to foster and nurture those customer relationships so when the next purchase opportunity comes up, we have the advantage?
Here are some post sale things to think about:
- Follow-up with them to see how they liked the product (first-time buyers) and did it perform like they expected? If not, resolve the problem or take back the product. Ask them to rate the product online.
- Keep in contact with them via email. Touching base on industry issues or giving them a sneak peek at a new product coming out.
- Help them find solutions to make their job easier, even if it doesn’t include your product for that application.
By engaging with the customer, you’re building the three key factors of know, like and trust that will give you the edge next time.
October 21, 2014
We all want to capture more business, and the best source of that is from existing customers. If you were a retailer, it would be much simpler to develop a program. But if you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution channels, your challenge is where do you put your efforts … at the distributor or end user? You’re between a rock and a hard place.
From a distributor’s perspective, all manufacturers are trying to get more time and attention. If you’re an A or B line item, chances are you’ll get some time. Here are some challenges to consider:
- When you do, what kind of plan are you presenting?
- Is just like everybody else, or does yours stand out from the crowd?
- And what about the cost? You know it’s coming out of your margins, not the distributors.
- Do you incentivize for total sales or for incremental sales once they’ve met last year’s numbers?
- How do you get their sales force excited?
- Do you incentivize the distributor or the salesmen?
- Tracking program – make it simple so you’re not spending all your time figuring out who gets what.
End users aren’t as loyal as they once were. Most will change brands at the drop of a hat or for 5 cents.
There are some iconic brands out there that have worked very hard to build that trust and loyalty over many years, and for the rest of us, we are envious. But even these brands have to fight for incremental sales outside their core “loyalists.”
The younger tradesmen, for the most part, have little brand loyalty unless they were brought up through an apprenticeship program or trade school where your products were used.
So if you’re considering doing an end-user promo, here are some things to think about:
- What’s your objective? Is it brand building or product related?
- Are you developing an end-user database? If so, what do you plan on doing with it?
- What’s the offer? Is it memorable? Can you tie it into other branding activities?
- Are you involving distribution to help create the buzz?
Manufacturers, you do have your challenges. I’d like you to share programs you’ve seen that have been effective.
October 16, 2014
By Robin Heike, Production Engineer, Sonnhalter
via Marta on Flickr
Printing may only be “ink on paper” in a general sense, but when you’re printing collateral and other materials, you need quality printing.
Here are a few things you need to know about printing for a quality final product:
- Good design requires good art
- Good print requires good art
- Good print requires good paper
- Good print requires good printers
- Good printers stay on my vendor list
- Good printers have a wealth of knowledge – use it
Ink on paper produces print.
Print with these things in mind products amazing!
September 30, 2014
My grandkids went back to school last month, and after having a very active summer, I asked them if they were looking forward to going back to school. They both agreed that they were, and when I asked why, some of the answers surprised me.
I expected to hear that they were looking forward to seeing old friends that they had not stayed in touch with over the summer. They were a bit apprehensive about meeting their new teachers and what the next grade had in store for them. But at the same time they were looking forward to learning something new.
I thought that their insights could be useful for all of us in business as teachable moments.
- Going back to see old friends - When was the last time you called up a long-standing customer you haven’t talked to for some time to see how they are doing and thank them for their business?
- Apprehension on meeting new people - What are your new challenges? Is it calling on some new key potentials or joining a professional group that would help improve your job skills?
- New challenges - What are your goals to learn something new? Get active in a LinkedIn group, take an online course or go to a seminar that will help you do your job better.
I guess the key, to me, is we should never stop learning.
I know with all the things in both our personal, as well as professional lives, it’s sometimes hard, but I think we need to step back occasionally and re-evaluate what we’re doing.
What are you doing to challenge yourself?