Monday, October 31, 2016

Why the zombie apocalypse matters to your sales team...

For Halloween this year we decided to theme our blog around the coming zombie apocalypse. While the fact the apocalypse is actually coming may be in dispute, the concept is simple. Things would be kind of tough in a zombie apocalypse but we can learn this lesson now. 

When the Going Gets Tough, Turn to Your Best Customers.
How to focus on your long-term customers, while chasing after new ones (zombie pun intended).

Combine the high cost of new customer acquisition with the fact that your best customers are likely to stay with you for the long haul (provided your company meets and exceeds their expectations), and it's easy to see why digging deeper into your existing client base is more important than ever during uncertain economic times. Today we review and share some strategies to carry out that plan of action.

To get the most out of this strategy, here are a few tips for success. By using these tips distributors can increase revenue-per-customer by getting their sales staffs focused on up selling, marketing additional services, and increasing order sizes.

First off it's important to track revenue per customer and profit per customer. Last week a client noted that top line sales for a client were great but there were abusing the company policy of free shipping and cost more in freight then next five customers.

By using an enterprise level ERP system like the MDS-NX system you can create that all important customer profile.

To verify that can easily incorporate customer profitability into your retention strategy.

Start with the Customer's Goals in Mind (assuming a zombie has not eaten it yet) 
Image result for halloween brainGet to know your customers' business and strategic agendas: 
  • What are their corporate priorities for the year?
  • What are the big hurdles they are trying to overcome?
  • What are their goals? 
  • Who are the key players? 
Salespeople and account managers often say, 'We know our accounts' business very well" But when pressed, they often have a long way to go when it comes to what the customers business strategy is. Companies can overcome this obstacle by uncovering their customer's priorities, and then gaining a better understanding of where and how to add value. If you are selling a surgery center who has just added a new robotic surgery system , then make sure you have the supplies and tools on hand to service that product. Traditional surgery centers will use and entirely different supply setup then some of the newer robotics systems. In the pharmaceutical industry, as we enter the fall and winter season what are the drugs needed by your pharmacy customer?
And while many products may remain the same by showing your customer your supply chain is aligned with their business strategy you will also be able to better forecast new sales.

Image result for talk to a zombieTalk to your customers as often as you can.
(it gets lonely out there in the zombie apocalypse)

"Simply by having conversations about the big picture, you're likely to uncover opportunities where you can help."
It's a balancing act between annoying and helpful, but if they are willing to set an appointment or time have them do it. Integrate a CRM or web based time tracker to make it easy for them to schedule a time to speak. If you clients purchasing team works later hours , consider shifting the sales team so you can provide coverage outside your normal business hours. The trade off in sales may make the additional operating hours worthwhile. As your sales cycle grows you can then add a second or third shift to your warehouse teams and look at automation to speed up the warehouse.

Make customers feel special 
(after all there may not be that many in a zombie apocalypse) 

Image result for isnt that specialThe Internet may have given your customers an enormous repository of product data, pricing, and vendor options to choose from, but how many online sellers are truly making those customers feel special? By looking behind the numbers to understand your customers' pain points, business strategies, financial situations, and operational strengths, you can assist them in coming up with solutions that help them meet their business goals. Using Technology and an integrated CRM will allow you to see these pain points before the customer does. After the conversation you can then compare them to other clients and become a trusted advisor.

Comparative sales analysis and reporting can go two ways, You can see what items other customers like them are buying and what they are not. But it will also allow you to recommend items other peers in the industry are using, suggest better products and realize more sales. Utilizing our RemoteNet business intelligence tools you can offer items that often used with the products they buy as well (cross-sell) or up sell items as well if they are using the non premium product you can explain others make more money using this other item.
This comes as part of talking to your clients and customers, they have the real knowledge you are just the conduit.
 As part of this process, your company will become a valued, long-term provider of products and services.

Make your customers a part of the process
(Since we don't have that many of us left in a zombie apocalypse we need to work together) 

If you are considering adding new products or services, then give your customers the opportunity to voice their opinion about those new options. "If your existing customers feel engaged in the development of your business, they will purchase more," The good news is that making your best clients a part of the process doesn't have to take much time or effort—simply ask them for their feedback during a regular sales call, include a comments section in your company's newsletter, or introduce the product in an email to them, and ask for their suggestions. Public recommendations on a website serve as one piece but again, by gaining this information directly from your customers you will become the trusted advisor and much more then just a sales person.

Put the right people in place
(The ones who really know how to deal with zombies)

Image result for zombie killers Remember that corporate culture plays a key role in the retention of long-term customers. "It's about having values built into your company all the time, and not just as a reaction to an economic crisis," The firm that has the right people in place will likely be the one that finds, retains, and cultivates the long-term relationships over the one-time sale. Dont just make your email tagline say thank you , remember to tell them every time they are the reason you are in business and you appreciate them.

Focus on the future, and reap the dividends.
(Since its a zombie apocalypse, things kind of have to get better, they can't get any worse) 

"When times are slow, your customers buy from you because they know that they can rely on you even when they're having bad days" Focus on the future, even if the present is challenging. Hunkering down is the most common reaction to a down economy, but it's a trap that distributors should avoid. Obviously you need to be prudent and manage expenses better than ever in a weak economy, However, keep the future in mind for yourself and, especially, for your customers.

For instance, if you see that your customers are cutting back on maintenance items that can be temporarily deferred, what will be the impact after that decision?
  • Will your customers experience less sales? 
  • More missed opportunities? 
  • What will that cost them? 
Think about what you can do now to help your clients prevent that, or respond to it quickly when it does occur. 

All of the above will allow you to change from the best price sales model to the more stable and long term Trusted advisor sales model. This creates the long term path both for your business and your employees building the long term relationship that will sustain your company as you move into the future.

Ready to build a relationship with your technology providers?

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.