I was working with a rep in a new market, one that we had been developing for only a couple of years.  A customer that we had picked up early on requested a second visit. He seemed to be “shopping” our prices.

At our meeting, I noted that the customer had pictures of horses on every wall of his office, so I asked about his interest in them. This led to a 45 minute discourse about his ranch, horse breeding, his rigorous daily schedule, etc.  Finally, the client abruptly brought the conversation back to why he had called us. 

In a very kind way, he admonished us for not visiting him more frequently. We learned that the previous rep who had handled this account raised horses and they used to enjoy talking about their common interests.  In a shy, gentle manner, the customer implied that he wouldn’t have asked for competitive prices if we had been more attentive to his needs.

The Trusting Friend Lands the Deal

How many of your customers are just looking for a good, trusting friend? The popular Futurist, Watts Wacker, reminds us, “In the Old Economy we made a sale, but in the New Economy we need to make connections.” You may provide exceptional service, but you must assume that your customers expect that from your competitors as well. You need to focus on what sets you apart from the next supplier.

Time Management Guidelines

Recognizing that relationship building involves time and effort, here are some time management guidelines:

  • Divide your accounts into “profit” volume groups. 
  • Call on your top 10%, or “A” accounts, weekly.
  • Call on your next 15%, or “B” accounts, monthly.
  • Pay attention to any “C” accounts, those with currently low profit, but high potential. For these I recommend planning a weekly visit.
  • Keep checking on non-customer “D” accounts that have high potential.
  • Develop a weekly calendar planner and fill it out before you start your week. You may prefer filling it out on Friday when the last week’s calls are fresh in your mind.
  • Use a calendar tracking system to pre-set appointments.

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