Distributors and Suppliers, Do You Know What You Are Missing?
Sometimes we just miss the obvious. We are so busy doing what we are accustomed to doing that we miss opportunities right in front of us! Communication methods are changing so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up with them. Many of us decide we don’t have the time to learn anything new. What we have been doing has worked pretty well for the past several years … so why do anything different?
The question is, will what you have been doing to advertise and market your business for the past one, five and 10 years still be effective one, five or 10 years from now? I am going to be bold and say absolutely not!
Listening to a radio show on emerging tech trends with Randi Zuckerberg (yeah, Mark’s sister), I was blown away by how marketing and engagement is being done. The content discussed was way beyond anything our industry could understand, let alone embrace.
One thing stuck with me in an interview with a young entrepreneur who was doing effective marketing for large, well-known brands. When going into a meeting with a new client, he requested that its interns be invited, because they would “get it.” If a company would say it would consider his company’s strategy for 2016, he knew they didn’t “get it” and there would be no deal. This meeting was in early 2015. These trends move quickly. Distributors and suppliers who want to be effective in reaching buyers need to think just a bit outside their comfort zone.
Not everything to generate business requires high-tech strategies. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening and asking the right questions.
My good friends at Maple Ridge Farms do a great job providing tools that help distributors generate sales. They also consistently share useful content on relatable topics. Here is something Jodie Schillinger shared on the Maple Ridge Farms Blog. It’s right on target and shows how we all will benefit from understanding the value of asking questions:
There are times in life where we stop, listen and hear that there is the opportunity to ask a question. However, if we are not taking the time to listen and watch, would we even know what question to ask?
Picture this: Two cavemen are busy doing what they always do. They are busy moving rocks in a box with square "wheels." Their technique works for them, as it always has. In fact, in all honesty, they do not know anything different. So they continue and completely pass up an opportunity of a lifetime.
They pass by another caveman with the product to change their world (literally)! The man is holding up two (round) wheels that will make the cavemen’s job of moving the rocks much easier … enabling them to be far more effective accomplishing their goal. Caveman No. 1 says, "No thanks!" Caveman No. 2 says, "We are too busy."
You see, the caveman carrying the wheels totally recognizes the opportunity for his product to be used; yet he is failing to engage in a relationship that would allow the wheels to be sold or given to the people that would greatly benefit from it. While there are many unspoken needs going on here, it is our job to engage and extract that information from our customers. In order for us to do this, we need to stop and ask those critical questions – questions that force us to stop, look, listen and take action.
This got me thinking about one of my favorite movies: Say Anything (1989)! Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack—the optimist) was determined to spend some time with the intelligent and gorgeous Diane Court (the valedictorian). When Lloyd arrived at a party with Diane as his date, a friend asked him, "Lloyd, how did you get Diane Court to go out with you?" His iconic response was, "I called her up." Any objection that Diane presented to Lloyd, he was able to help her overcome it, until she realized that she needed what he had to offer. (He is an amazing relationship builder, because of this quality!)
Here’s a "real world" case study:
Prior to making an outbound call, I did a little Google-stalk, and studied up on my customer’s website, and did some social media listening. I proceeded to make the call, and when we got to talk, I kept hearing her say, "This one client who buys food." As we continued conversing, I reminded her that many of her clients are in the financial industry (one of the biggest buyers of food gifts).
By working with her, asking questions and listening, I was able to say, "You know, I continue to hear you say 'this is your only food client'; however, your customers are buying food … they are just not buying it from you." She laughed, and understood that I listened and was there to help assist her in capturing the SWAG business, from the big-box retailers and increase her sales at the same time.
Watch for your cue, listen for the unknown obstacles your client may not know they need to overcome, craft the question and ask it.
Remember how powerful those well-crafted questions are! Go ahead, connect today and ask the critical questions that help your customers recognize the need for your services, product, relationship and expertise.
These are challenging and exciting times in our industry. Let’s not forget about the basics—listening and asking questions.
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company and also publishes FreePromoTips.com, a popular industry resource. The PPAI award winning FreePromoTips.com website and twice a month e-newsletters are packed with beneficial information. You can opt in to receive these informative twice a month E-Newsletters here! Check out what’s new in the GP2: Good Products-Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of FREE end user safe product videos you can share from their YourPromotionSolution.com website. You can stay connected to FreePromoTips on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or me personally on LinkedIn and my NEW personal Twitter account.