Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meditations On Losing A Relationship

I was originally going to title this post "Meditations On Losing A Sale".

I decided against this because to me, describing what happens when a customer purchases a machine or service plan from me as a "sale" is a bastardization of what it is really happening.

I know that with every sale made, a relationship begins.

I am not perfect but try very hard to go above and beyond for my customers. Because they are not just customers, they are human beings who have entrusted me to take care of them in regards to their office imaging needs...

I personally hate the term "salesman" because it dredges up all kinds of negative imagery and that happens for a reason.

Many salesmen are notoriously greedy, self servicing dark wizards bent on one thing...

Cold hard cash. Getting the next big "score".

I fully, with every ounce of my being hate the fact that there are so many sales professionals who who choose to embody this negative stereotype.

It is my personal mission to be the antithesis of this persona.

I put my customers first and keep my focus on their needs. I do all I can to provide a fair price for the best possible products and services, with my commission always being an afterthought and never front and center of my motivations.

So when I loose a sale to some one like this. It is painful. And while some of that pain is my own, it is not nearly as painful to my ego as it will be to the customers wallet.

Recently I proposed a copier to a customer who has been doing business with us for over 6 years.

While I fully expected them to get at least a second proposal for comparison to our own, I never imagined they would buy the same machine with both minimum and overage charges in addition to a higher regular rate.

What supposedly set off the decision maker in this company is the fact that we included a charge for scans at .0002 per scan...

And while the other vendor did not charge for scanning, their regular rates were both higher than ours. Further more, we did not charge overages or give them a minimum monthly output as this other vendor has.

Consequently, they are now spending more on their service plan with this other vendor than they would have with our plan even if we still charged them for scanning (which we offered to remove as sign of good faith in that we cherished them as a customer and would work with them to keep their business).

The real travesty here is the fact that even with our scanning charges our option would have been cheaper.

Now this is one copier sale...

For me, the commission from this sale would equate to perhaps, gas money for a few weeks. Financially, its not a major loss to me.

Emotionally it is frustrating because they have been hoodwinked by this other vendor...

I am not upset that I lost "another score" as some in the sales craft would put it.

I am upset about this because I lost a relationship with a customer to an individual who probably thinks of these people as another feather in their cap...

Another score... Another piece of meat.

I am upset about it because this other salesman, slicked his hair back, shot an elevator pitch and used the same age old techniques of coercive persuasion that is so prevalent in the craft of "pocket lining" it is virtually an accepted practice in the art of sales.

What I am trying to get at here is that whether you buy from me or from anyone else.

Don't be had. Do your homework and really look at the MATH.

It is so easy to be deceived by the language of a talented and experienced sales professional, especially if their intentions are focused on their commission versus your happiness and satisfaction.

Don't assume they are saving you anything by eliminating one cost when such "generosities" are accompanied by minimums and overage charges in the details.

I can honestly say that while I am always interested in new business, I will not sacrifice the value of a relationship with another human being for a larger financial return.

At the risk of being repetitive, I implore you...

Be awake. Be aware. Do your homework.

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