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Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Salesmen

Sales and Marketing generally doesn't get along. If sales are going hot, they are obviously the most skilled person to scale such heights, and if sales are bad, marketing didn't find the right message. Now remember though this is coming from a marketing guy, not a sales guy. I think we marketers are perfect...OK I don't, but I wanted to set this story up so you would understand that when I say, "You Have to Be a Great Salesperson in your Career." You'll know I am not just drinking the sales Kool-Aide. I will get to the why in a bit. This story takes place when I was just starting out in my career, but I was a Merchandising Buyer. Only the names have been changed to protect the stupid :)

This story involves two salesmen. Let's call them Bobby and Buzz. They have both been in sales for years, both had risen to top sales posts had all of the contacts needed to generate their quota.

Bobby would call at the end of every month, or 3 days before the end of the month at the end of his quarter, half or year. Every call went something like this:

Bobby: "Whatcha got for me this month Racer?" "Well you better get some of my new 'Y' on order now we are running out!"

Me: "Bobby shocking to hear from you at the end of the month, but we are good, thanks."

Bobby: "Come on Racer, I need $100k to make the month. I'll give you an extra 3% off."

Me: "Well, Bobby," I would say smiling on the other end of the phone, "I don't need $100K of your widgets, that would be 4 months supply, so it would take getting another 10%, not 3%."

Bobby: Silence..."OK, let me check, we normally can't go that low." Then he would call back and say, "OK, I can't go 10% but I'll go 8."

Me: "Fine", I'd say, "I need terms then, 60 days."

Bobby: "Done" said El Bobby faster than a fox running from the Chicken coup...

Problem was Bobby thought he really got one by my because he would have gone to 10%. Well...not quite. I needed the goods anyway, plus I got terms which were worth about 1.5% then. I would have ordered, but I knew he would call and offer a discount. The nice thing was I only had to talk to Bobby 12 times a year, and then I would light him up like a Christmas Tree.

Let's Contrast that with Buzz.

I talked to Buzz 4-8 times a month. He never asked for an order on any call. He would ask about my wife, kids, dogs, music, etc.. He knew my favorite lunch place, my favorite dinner spot, what were the good times to call, and what were the bad times. He would ask me how things were selling through, did I need to return anything, how was my stock levels...Buzz always made his numbers and he never had to discount. He knew our business as well as us.

So what are the lessons for you, your career and life?:

  1. Make it easy to do business with you - Buzz always made sure we were selling through. He knew how every facet of ordering took place so we never had an issue with his shipments
  2. He made each of us feel as we were friends - Not superficial friends, but real ones. He took the time to connect with almost everyone at the office.
  3. He put you over himself - You could call 24/7/365 (he insisted) but he would never do the same back. He respected your time. Our business mattered more to him then a single order!
  4. He worked every day, not just on deadlines - He didn't get as big of single orders as Bobby sometimes, but he didn't need to have a fire sale each month either! No Christmas Eve calls!
  5. Never an integrity issue - If we couldn't do something he would never try and go around you, to your boss, or bosses boss. Bobby did, and no one trusted him because of that.

Unfortunately there are 100 Bobby's out there for each Buzz, but whether you are in sales, marketing or any job, apply those principles and you will go far!


Green Panda said...

You're so right! We have a sales department and only a few of them are like Buzz. Most are like Bobby.

I work in the operation department and all those Bobbies create havoc. They sell our products at a discount (just so they make their money) and do everything last minute. It makes it hard for the manufacturing crew to make everything on time.

Transportation has to pay more to get it expedited. Some people now have their schedules ruined because of a bad sales rep.

We'd love to have more Buzz. :)

Fiscal Musings said...

It's much easier to do business with someone who cares about making it a win for you as well. It's amazing how many people haven't realized yet that when your customers succeed you will succeed by default.

RacerX said...

@Panda - Yep, they create havoc everywhere, funny that at times management only remembers the sales, not how they got there!

@Fiscal - Exactly. Your customers wins will return themselves on you! Usually multiple times.

Thanks for commenting and visiting!

Mrs. Micah said...

Fortunately, I haven't had to deal too much with salespeople in my various lines of work. But as the admin/secretary, I had a number of people go through me to get to the boss. There were definitely different types. And my boss preferred the ones who didn't press sales and who were friendly with her.

One saleswoman would take my boss's boss to the spa a couple times a year for girl chat and getting their nails done. They'd get back to the office and still be chatting about home life, the pressures of running stuff, etc.

Then there was the guy who never called unless he had something to sell. And when we called him because something was under warranty and needed replacing, he called back (after a week) and tried to sell us add-ons. Yeah. Not cool.

RacerX said...

Thats a Bobbny alright!

The point of the post is that, regardless if you are in sales or not, we are all selling something. Ourselves. Not in the buy/sell sort of way, we are all trying to show value where we work. These lesson work whether you are selling, marketing, being an awesome Librarian or anywhere!

Thanks for visiting and good luck tonight!

Debt Dieter said...

If sales are going hot, they are obviously the most skilled person to scale such heights, and if sales are bad, marketing didn't find the right message.

They'll also ask for a tactical or knock down sale price/offer too so they can meet their targets, but offer no incremental lift in overall sales to compensate...

RacerX said...

Exactly! --- I think a lot of us have had to work with a Bobby!

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