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Your Best Customers, “the GAME CHANGERS” are the big door prize in your COMPETITOR’S sales pipeline!! They are the HOTTEST PROSPECTS in your market and many distributors will PAY GOOD MONEY, UP FRONT to get them away from you!
What are you doing to prevent the loss of your best customers? Most likely, nothing.
Maybe a better question is, what are you doing to prevent a competitor from buying your best customers’ business?
This past week I witnessed two deals where one distributor paid $60,000 upfront for a customer to agree to a three-year prime vendor deal, and another distributor paid $100,000 to a customer, also for a three-year deal. Good customers are very hard to land and many of them could use this upfront money to spend on their business or their family.
Paying a good operator upfront money is becoming a common business practice for many Wall Street and large distributors. They’ve got to grow some way if they’re not one of the best distributors in a market.
Your competitors are doing everything possible weekly to lure your best customers AWAY from YOU and YOUR COMPANY!
Many DSRs and distributors take their best customers for granted. Most distributors believe their best customers love them. They think that their relationship is so strong that those customers would NEVER think about changing to another distributor!
The PROBLEM with this thinking is that most distributors/DSRs are not proactively doing much of anything to keep and build the business they currently have. Just taking care of their customer service issues week-in, week-out may not be good enough!!
I learned the hard way…THINGS CHANGE…COMPETITORS CHANGE…CUSTOMERS CHANGE…Because Money talks, BS walks…
ACTION ITEMS that you should focus on today with your BEST CUSTOMERS:
- Make the necessary investment of: TIME – SERVICE – GRATITUDE with your customers. Do what you would do to secure new customers—help them MAKE MONEY!
- This means being available to your BEST customers WHEN THEY NEED YOU—and in this business, that’s 7 days a week! You know your competitors would take their call any day and time.
- Identify your top 10 customers’ most used products. Plus, do you have deals setup for those items for each customer? Rebates, special pricing, long-term pricing from manufacturers which they will be happy to do. If you don’t… your competitors will!
- Have an ongoing program to improve products, services, and processes for your customers, your company and yourself.
- Set up quarterly “best customers’ meetings” with those customers and take different management (Sales Manager, Transportation Manager, Credit Manager, Inside Sales Manager, Warehouse Manager, CFO, CEO, VP, etc.) with you on those calls so the CUSTOMER KNOWS how important they are.
How do you and your company respond to customer EMERGENCY situations? For example, if a customer calls you because two busloads of patrons just left their restaurant having wiped out most of its main inventory, how would you respond?
How you and your company handle these situations will show your customer that you’re “in it to win it” with them.
Independent operators are in the service business. DSRs and distributors who understand the “service business” will be able to keep their customers from shifting from their competitors’ sales pipeline to landing on their competitors’ customer list.
Remember, the DSR and Distributor who add the most value and make it the easiest to do business with, will earn the business, LONG-TERM!
DSRs, Be a Resource… and Sell Something!