In this third part of a series on creating a culture of excellence, vending veteran Tom Britten outlines sales and marketing strategies which he claims are no longer optional to succeed in vending.
In the past, many successful vending companies had no actual agenda for gaining new business. They enjoyed growth mainly through word-of-mouth referrals and luck. But if you're hoping the good 'ole blind pig will continue to back into an ear of corn every once in awhile, like he always has, I think you're going to be disappointed.
Yesterday's Sales Techniques Won't Do It Any More
Just as operating the same old way won't work in today's marketplace, neither will selling the same old way. More aggressive competition in a marketplace with a dwindling number of potential locations necessitates a more deliberate, systematic approach to growth. Being good at what you do is no longer good enough. Creative, hard-hitting sales and marketing strategies must be in place if you are to have any chance of growing your business on a sustained basis. "Selling on purpose" is a big job; it requires a serious commitment of time and effort over a long period of time.
Winners in business always play hardball. They single-mindedly and relentlessly pursue the competitive advantage, and they make no apologies for it. We long ago reached a stage where the only new business to get is the business someone else already has. Like it or not, you're lying in the weeds, waiting for your competition to make a mistake.
What Are You Doing While You're Waiting?
While you're waiting, you should be data mining, networking, entertaining, creating relationships, and in general driving for any competitive advantage you can lay your hands on. Always remember, in our business, selling is a process, not an event.
The costs associated with the pursuit of new business is an expense that needs to be considered from the perspective of not what it will cost to do this, but what it will cost not to.
Sales And Marketing: You Need To Do Both
A critical aspect of creating a winning company culture is incorporating clearly defined sales and marketing functions in your company.
People often confuse marketing with sales. Sales is a day-to-day tactical issue; marketing looks down the road and addresses how you get the word out, how you package your goods, how you identify your market, and other strategic issues.
Successful selling depends on good marketing.
A decision to bring on a new product line, for instance, is a part of your marketing strategy. It needs to be understood in this context in order to succeed.
Marketing is something the whole company needs to be involved with. If you are expanding into a new product line, you need support inside the company before you take it outside. If your entire organization is not enthusiastically sold on the boss's latest brainstorm, don't expect the consumer to be.
Employees can end up undermining new products because they don't believe in them or they feel disengaged from them in some way. Give them a reason to want to help make it work, a tangible one if possible.
Successful sales and marketing strategies also require a good product. Here is where the operational issues covered in the February and March articles come into play.
Key Element Of All: A Winning Product
Enthusiasm is overrated. All this stuff about "fire in the belly," "a sense of urgency," "driving desire to succeed," etc. won't sell a penny's worth of business if your prices and products are not competitive.
Your reputation is a huge factor; it's tough to sell rotten apples. I have seen more than a few good salesmen (albeit a little na've) go down in flames because they were attempting to sell against a stacked deck.
The very first step in your sales and marketing plan is to take an honest look at your weaknesses. This could hurt a little bit. You may find you have some work to do on the operations side before attacking the marketplace.