Some powerful ideas from 2017 that still work

Dec. 13, 2022
It’s not too late to take full advantage of the business development opportunity that comes with the holiday season.

After selling my company in 2017, I was looking for something to do, so I started working with the team at Automatic Merchandiser/ to provide in-depth operator insights through a regular column. Almost six years and 65 columns later, as contributing editor, I have bounced a lot of ideas out there for operators to consider. There are three 2017 columns that I would like to revisit – three concepts that should resonate with operators as we head into 2023.

Learn the 'Say Yes' Strategy (August 2017)

Say “yes” – with conditions

“Office managers, facility managers and purchasing managers are expecting a higher level of service – they demand excellence in every type of workplace – and rightfully so. Recognizing the demand for excellence among clients and the importance of amenities in today’s workplace, the table is set for a re-thinking of the old office refreshment model. In the majority of locations – we should throw out the old model. Start delivering excellence and stop giving it away for free.”

How it applies today

Employers are recognizing that they need to invest in the workplace experience to retain talent and get employees to come back to the office. They also need to provide enhanced amenities for those employees who must be in the office every day, which is now considered a real burden.

This puts operators in the driver’s seat. That is why I cringe when I hear about steep discounting in OCS, and I scream when I hear about micro market operators paying commissions.

Five Ways to Beat Lowballing (September 2017)

“Lowballing (selling at a ridiculous price) is a pathetic sales technique, if we can call it a technique at all. This concept of ‘buying the business’ lowers profit margins for everyone and misleads clients about our industry. Many operators on the East Coast have told me that this type of pricing is common in that region, where coincidentally, office supply companies have jumped into the coffee service business with both feet.”

As management, we need to educate our account executives on how to sell against lowballing. It takes some discipline and fortitude, because lowballing is a dirty business ­– based on the mindless concept that buyers are serious when they say, “It’s all about price.” That may be true when someone is buying a nut or a bolt, but when a multifaceted service program is being considered, the buying criteria is far more complex. I have known thousands of office managers, facility managers and purchasing professionals over the years. The ones who bought on price alone can be counted on one hand.

When training account executives, it is critical that we give them the tools and techniques to sell intelligently.”

How it applies today

Check out the five strategies that I outlined in the article – very specific selling techniques on how to beat lowballing. It is a great read for any convenience services account executive.

Some Calming Holiday Strategies (December 2017)

Connection pays dividends

“It is so easy to watch the season go by in a flash. The holidays are a wonderful time for owners, managers, sales reps and customer service associates to send a sincere email expressing appreciation for the relationship. Here is what I typically sent, which had a 99.9% response rate:

"Hi Jill:

I just want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

We really appreciate the relationship with XYZ Company (for seven years now!) and with your facilities team.

Thanks for all your support. We look forward to a fantastic 2018."

This simple email, which can often express appreciation for the friendship and personal relationship that you have developed with your client, is a nice reminder that business relationships can go beyond business. If you are blessed to have those types of clients, it is nice to put that message out there.”

How it applies today

It’s not too late to take full advantage of the business development opportunity that comes with the holiday season. Check out the complete article, but here is my favorite part:

Beware of people like me (and try this)

If you have competitors who think like I do, you better connect with your valued clients during the holiday season. Here is my simple voicemail to active prospects I was unable to close during the year. This is a voicemail that every one of your sales reps should be leaving:

“Hi Jane – I just want to wish you a happy holiday and let you know how much I will appreciate the opportunity to serve you at some point in the future. We didn’t quite make a deal this year, but I can promise you this – I will keep working to earn your business. Happy Holidays!”


Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/ He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. Tullio’s b2b Perspective Channel has developed a loyal YouTube following.

Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "One short session with me will elevate the performance of your sales team.”


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