By Now in the Process
From The Articles – By Randy Eddy
Former CED Profit Center Manager – Published 2005
To somewhat tie these subjects together, it is important to point out that a lot of people should know some things now that they didn’t know before. All of your employees, not just office or outside sales, should know the following:
- What market your profit center intends to pursue.
- What makes a customer profitable or not.
- Who are the customers in that chosen market that you want to penetrate further.
- Who are the customers you want to get away from and how to do that.
- What your chosen customers want out of your profit center and what it takes to be the best supplier in the market for those customers.
- What their role is in the process.
- Which vendors you intend to partner with to achieve your stated objectives, and what partnering means (from vendor and distribution side)
Your vendors should know these things:
- What your target market is
- What value you bring to the market and what value you hope to bring in the future.
- Which customers you are targeting
- What you expect from your vendors in your efforts to achieve your objectives
- What they can expect from you in return
Your chosen customers should know (because they heard it from you, the manager):
- What your target market is and what value you intend to bring to that market.
- That they are one of your chosen customers.
- That you have the ability to change anything that doesn’t meet their expectations.
If everyone who can help you knows what their part is, life will be easy. If they don’t know their part, everything is random.
You will find it much easier to achieve your goals if everyone who could help or hurt your efforts knows what it is that you are trying to do. Consider these examples:
Let’s say, you have a customer that you really would like to penetrate further. For the purposes of this illustration, let’s make him a residential contractor. You are selling him pretty much everything except the load centers, which you really would like to convert one day to your brand. The vision of this goal is very clear (in your mind only). Then one day, your gear manufacturer quotes a price for this contractor to your competition just because some punk salesman asked. Then all the fireworks go off. You call your division manager. You call the gear people etc, etc. I would think that, had your gear guy known that this contractor was a target account for you that he might have made a phone call before quoting the price.
Your inside salesman just received two requests for quote that are each 30 items long. One is from a cash cow. By the way, in your conversations with this cash cow, he has made it very clear that one thing that is very important to him is that he receives any RFQ that he sends over back as soon as possible. The other RFQ is from one of the least profitable customers you have. Does your inside salesman know which one to do first? Or, is there a 50/50 chance that he might have the cash cow wait until the other quote is done?
Sometimes, when it seems that everyone is working against you, it’s just because they don’t know what “working for” you means
Taking it a step further, what if both customers award the order to you? You ship both orders and both customers call with an urgent problem because you shipped the wrong material. Unfortunately, this is holding up work at the job site. Your inside salesman should tell the cash cow that he will get the correct parts and get in his personal vehicle to take them out right away. He should tell the other customer that the next truck goes out day after tomorrow, or he is welcome to come to the counter to exchange the parts. Does your inside salesman know to do that?
A final example is you have decided to be the best residential wiring device supplier in town. You just handled an order for one of your target customers very unimpressively. You would hope that the customer would call you and tell you so that you would do better next time. But does that customer know that you desire to be an excellent residential wiring device supplier? If you don’t tell him, he might just think that you want to be mediocre.
If everyone who can help you knows what their part is, life will be easy. If they don’t know their part, everything is random. Sometimes, when it seems that everyone is working against you, it’s just because they don’t know what “working for” you means. Lastly, I should point out that it is impossible to communicate anything to anybody until you have decided what it is that you want to do. That is why market focus, customer selection, and customer service are so important.