Early in my sales career I learned a valuable lesson. I was a sales representative for John’s Scientific, a Canadian company that had been around since the thirties. Our largest customer segment was the hospital laboratory, and we sold both capital equipment and consumables. There could be no doubt, every technologist in every hospital lab knew who we were and what we sold.
I was in Brantford, Ontario, where there are 2 hospitals, St. Joeseph’s, and The General. I walked into a lab at St. Joe’s, where I had a contract for consumables. I was shocked to see 3 brand new laboratory refrigerators, still in their crates. I said to my customer, “I don’t get it, all the business we do together, and you didn’t even call me for a quote on the refrigerators?” She told me, “I am sorry, I didn’t know you sold capital equipment, I thought you just sold consumables.”
Next stop, the General. I walked into the lab, surrounded by John’s brand refrigerators, analyzers and centrifuges. I was shocked to see a fresh skid of test tube, pipets, and microscope slides, waiting to be unpacked. “I don’t get it, all the business we do together, and you didn’t even call me for a quote on your supplies?” Customer number two replied, “I am sorry, I didn’t know you sold consumables, I thought you just sold capital equipment.”
Lesson learned! Sometimes we get over confident, and assume that every customer knows who we are and what we sell. It is an easy trap to fall into. We know what we sell, so we incorrectly assume that everyone else does. Today more that ever, that is a dangerous assumption. Customers are cutting back on staff, so the folks left are way to busy. Maybe your key contact has retired or moved on, and the guy that has filled his shoes has never heard of you. Or maybe you forgot, like I did at the hospitals, to tell the whole story.
So what can you do about it. Make sure on every sales call, that your people ask a few questions, and give a brief rundown of your products and services. Build a little Powerpoint presentation for you sales people, and encourage them to show it on a sales call. Or build a self running Powerpoint that tells your story, and run it on a loop in your trade show booth. Give every customer a full line card, and make sure you keep it up to date. Build a good web site (most product searches these days start on the web). If its in the budget, do some image advertising in the trade journals.
And most important, ask your customer what they know about your company. You will be surprised by the answers.Do you have the tools to keep your customers up to speed on your full range of products and services? We can help you design an effective line card, Powerpoint presentations, or web site. Call us for a free needs analysis.