Whether we are a small operator or a large multi-state operator, or a supplier to our industry, we all have something in common. We all have to sell business to stay in business.
For anyone in sales, you know when I say, "Life in sales is like a roller coaster ride." One minute you can be riding high because you just landed that prestigious and profitable account. The next minute you get a call from an irate customer that your machine is out of order again, and if you don't get it fixed, they will find someone else.
Life in general is that way, yet sales magnifies the situation. In order to be successful, you need to be able to handle the highs and you need to be able to handle the lows of everyday sales life. And most importantly, you need to be able to handle the word "No."
Key element: personal relationships
Throughout my favorite movie, "Jerry McGuire," are scattered clips of Jerry's mentor, Dicky Fox, reciting various "words of wisdom" about being a sports agent. His first phrase in the beginning of the movie is: "The key to this business is personal relationships."
The same is true with sales in our industry. One side of our industry includes the product, equipment and other goods and services that are sold to the vending operator. On the other side of the fence are the salespeople who represent the vending operators who go out every day and try to obtain new business.
A salesperson on the supplier side does more of a relationship type selling process. Whether you are selling vending equipment or product at the regional level, you are calling on the same people (the local vending operators) every day.
What steps did you take to develop these relationships?
Step one: relationship building
First, you probably did not walk in the door on the first visit with your new candy bar in hand and say, "You want to buy this?" No, the first visit consisted of getting to know your new customer. What type of personality did he or she have? How did they start their business? Is their family involved in the business? What have they done to make their business so successful?
You got that first tour of the facility. You physically met and remembered the names of many of the people who worked in the back, including the service department and the warehouse.
In the afternoons, you met the route people as they were coming in off the route. You attended and became involved in the state vending association. You met the spouses and sometimes the children of the vending operators at the convention.
Success demands commitment
Bottom line, in the back of your mind, on that very first visit, you asked yourself, "How can I help this person and the people in their company through my product or service?" You also asked yourself, "What can I do personally for this person outside of my product or service?" And when you asked yourself this question, you sincerely meant it.
Sure, you ultimately wanted to sell that new candy bar or machine, but deep down you really wanted to get to know this person hopefully as a friend. Those of you who have done this for many years understand what I am talking about. In my opinion, those basic concepts are major components of what makes you successful in sales.
For the salespeople on the operator side of the business, especially if you are in a large market, you tend to do more cold calling, meaning that you call on new people every day. Yet many of the same things mentioned above in relationship selling apply to you as well.
Along with cold calling, one successful salesperson I know has become involved in the state associations of his customers.
He is also on the board of an association that is outside of his business. In this particular case, my friend has focused on a couple of major industries to target his business. Over the years, he has developed personal relationships, which have turned into referrals, which have turned into more business.
Networking brings referrals