Discover more from Ah So Insights
Take note! A customer-centered approach to selling more
How a few free apps can change the way you peddle alcohol
The act of selling isn’t inherently logical. There is no magic bullet, just a plethora of excuses for why a customer buys or doesn’t.1 That’s why tactics are preferable to strategy when it comes to the execution of one-on-one sales.
Microeconomics might partially explain the hard seltzer boom via demand curves but does little to aid a sales rep hawking White Claw on the street.2 Joseph Stiglitz’s Nobel Prize-winning work on information asymmetry won’t assist a brand manager any more than Newtonian physics will help my 6-year-old son learn how to ride a bicycle.
The disconnect between theory and practice occurs because the logic that underpins the theory fails to fully represent the hard realities of human nature.3
Most new sales reps and far too many experienced ones logically assume that once an account is open one of two things will happen:
The account will contact them if they need to reorder an item.
The account will reach out if they want to taste something new or fill a gap on their shelves or list.
It’s unlikely that you and your portfolio will be top of mind for many of your accounts when they have a need or want. This is where the above model fails.
Some refer to this model as account maintenance.
Account maintenance is nonsense. One maintains to sustain. If you want something to grow—plants, children, your bank account—you must nurture it.
Accounts necessitate a Goldilocks-level of attention. Too much and they’ll shirk at the hard sell or your demands for their time; too little and you’re leaving money on the table. Striking the balance is difficult if your method is ad-hoc and you work without a system. It is better to organize and track the attention you pay each account. Such a process ensures that every account is contacted regularly on its own terms.4 Here’s how it works:
Create a Google Sheet with five columns: account, contact frequency, last date of contact, preferred method of contact, contact info. For contact frequency, each account should each be assigned a value: once a week, twice a month, or once a month. This is how often you’ll contact them. You can determine this value based on your experience with the account or just by asking the buyer, “how often would you like me to reach out?” Preferred method of contact should be assigned a value: phone, text, email, stop-by.
Using a notes app, like Evernote, create a separate note for every account titled with that account’s name. Throw them into a single notebook to keep them separate from your other notes. Here you’ll record everything about that account: the buyer’s name, what they tasted and loved, what they tasted and hated, things to taste in the future, the name of the buyer’s pet, and anything else that you’d just as soon forget if you didn’t write it down.
Every day open that Google Sheet. Reach out to the appropriate accounts. If you want to get fancy, you can use conditional formatting to color-code those accounts that need to be contacted based on the contact frequency and last date of contact.
Make a record of the interaction in Evernote, which will automatically adjust the date and move that note to the top of the notebook. Double-check any notes at the bottom list since those are the accounts you haven’t interacted with for the longest time.
Use common sense to supplement this routine. If the buyer’s preferred method of contact is text, it doesn’t mean you should never stop by the account in person.
Enjoy the success that comes with customer-centered selling.
In college, I took a course called Introduction to Logic. It was the only class I’ve ever failed. At the time I was devastated, but now, 20 years later, I’m happy to report that my life has not been derailed.