Want a competitive advantage? Meet your customers where they are…

Went to lunch last week, here’s the powerful and likely profitable moment I watched as I ate.

Two food counters sat next to each other. Both were mid tier, one step above fast food with average orders around $12-15 per person, who would order and then sit in the food court area to eat. Both had similar food, sandwiches, salads, hot and cold food options. both had the same size locations and both were staffed with approximately the same number of people. I also have to say that both places seemed to have very friendly, outgoing employees.

I made my choice of restaurant, ordered my food, and sat down waiting for my number to be called. Then I watched.

Restaurant A had a person positioned out front offering samples of food and handing a coupon to anyone he engaged. He was fun to watch- he was friendly without invading personal space, greeted everyone who walked by, and would occasionally would call out that he had delicious samples to offer.

Restaurant B had a guy behind the counter that also was offering samples. He was very friendly, made good eye contact, had good food to offer, he moved around a lot, and even sang a few bars to accompany the overhead mall music.

Now- here’s the deal- I was eating a late lunch, about 2:15. So, the place wasn’t exactly bustling. I sat there for about 25 minutes from order to finishing my food.

Restaurant A had 9 people order. Restaurant B had 2 people order. Now it’s fair to say that preference of brand may have played a role here. However, I watched it…Restaurant A won because they were where their prospects were. Restaurant B never came out from behind the counter. B needed to have customers come to him before he could really engage. Guy A met them where they were, gave them a sample, then said something like “not sure what your food plans were, but we’re offering a coupon for the sandwich you just tried and a couple others….here, let me show what’s available…” It was so simple and brilliant and more importantly, it got results.

So, here’s the food for thought….Get out from behind the barrier and go to where your prospects are.

Now, Im not suggesting a total reboot of your marketing strategy here. I would not condone you hitting the bricks all over your market, passing out samples and just hoping for the best. That’s reckless. However, if there is a time that’s appropriate for you to give out samples, for you to do face to face marketing, or for you to really try and engage a prospect make sure you have removed any barriers before you do it.

This week, look for chances to step out from behind your desk, your counter, your social media feed, or your marketing automation plan and make a connection. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.

If you’d like to see the rest of the series or read more blog posts from The WinSource, you can find them here.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

Veteran’s Day – Thank you for your service. Thankful for my service.

First and foremost, thank you to all that have served. That service makes us a stronger country and is very appreciated.

I joined the Army in 1990. I have many friends in my social circle that have military service in their background. I have found there is an instant connection when two people that have a military history meet each other.

I thought this year, in addition to offering gratitude to those who have volunteered to be part of the greatest military force in the world, I wanted to offer thanks to the units we supported. That’s right…I want to thank the United States Army.

So….Thank you.

Let me share my personal story.

When I signed up for the Army in 1989, I did not enlist to fight an enemy. I didn’t think about freedom. I didn’t think that I had anything to really offer to the conflict in the desert. Looking back, I never really considered the fact that I was ‘willing to lay down my life’ for my country. Frankly, it didn’t seem like a reality I’d ever have to face- at least I hoped so. I realized now how lucky I was and how real the risk was back then.

What I needed when I signed up was a job. At that point in my life my longest running job was about a year and a half. I had no money for college, my job prospects were low but I was full of hope and energy. I had to make a change. Joining the military seemed like a great choice. Little did I know how great it would be. I owe so much to those years. Here are a few of the things I am thankful for.

The Army paid me a decent wage and guaranteed me a four year gig. I had a roof over my head, a pretty nice apartment actually. I got great benefits. Amazing compared to any job I’ve ever had since. I got life insurance for the first time. I got some fantastic perks to include: a gym membership, discount shopping, free movers, discount automotive services, discounts buying vacations, park passes, and even restaurants. I had good neighbors, chances to go to social events and a good support system.

I made great friends. It started in boot camp. There are people that I met during those weeks that I keep in touch with 30 years later. The Army attracts people from all walks of life. I met people that I never would have crossed paths with in a million years. Our time together gave me perspectives I hadn’t gotten anywhere else. We had plenty of time to tell each other stories. I heard and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. I learned a ton about life, love, family, loss, hope, ethics, values, and the world in general.

I went on the most amazing adventures. The first time I moved away from New England was to go to basic training. From there, I spent some time in the South and I later moved to Germany and got to live there for a couple years. That allowed me to travel all over Europe. It was unbelievable! I wish I had been more mature and had taken better advantage of the opportunity, but really, it was amazing.

The Army taught me great things about business. I believe that the military is the greatest business model in the world. I say that frequently and I believe it. The Army taught me about leadership, culture, motivation, mindset, organization, overcoming challenges, resilience, and respect. It was where I learned the value of diversity. I experienced what real teamwork was and understood my role the success of a team. I found who I was and who I could be. Striving for rank kept me seeking out training and new experiences. That helped developed a drive and thirst for learning that is part of me today. The way I lead and run business now is driven by what I learned there.

I could go on and on. But here is my point….I got more from the Army than it got from me. I am proud of my service, I value that time and would not trade it for anything. But the reality is I was one of the very lucky ones. I owe a debt of gratitude for all the military gave me and taught me. I recognize that there are other brothers and sisters out there who sacrificed greatly during their time of service and I am so glad we take a day like to today to remember them. I will also take this day as a reminder to thank the Army for all it gave me personally and professionally. I would not be who am today without that experience.

Thank you for letting me serve.

If you’d like to see the rest of the series or read more blog posts from The WinSource, you can find them here.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

A Sales Rule You Can’t Afford To Break:

Be Transparent

4/7 in a series

Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about six things we must do to be successful in sales. This week we focus on being transparent.

Most of these 6 imperatives are about how to get to Yes, but this one is about not creating a No. Being transparent through the sales process does not mean you will win the deal, but lacking transparency by being inconsistent, uninformed, or unclear can lose the deal.

Don’t sabotage your sale by getting caught off guard.

We’ve all been there. You’re having great conversation with your customer. They are interested in your service, and closing the deal is all but inevitable. And then they ask a question. You don’t know the answer, but you could make an informed guess. If you answer now, you can close this deal on the spot. If you wait to get an answer, they might change their mind or explore other options.

Some salespeople may have found it tempting to B.S. a little. What’s the harm? Your answer is probably correct, anyway. Right?

There used to be that kind of “wiggle-room” in sales. Even if you were tempted before, you just can’t B.S. it now. You can’t take the risk.

Buyers used to depend on salespeople for information about their products. Salespeople could have a little knowledge and a lot of confidence, and both parties might walk away happy. But thanks to the internet, buyers have access to as much—if not more—information as you do.

A recent study found 45% of buyers are doing more research now than they did just one year ago. We need a lot of knowledge, a little confidence, and easy access to answers for those out-of-left-field questions when they do pop up. And sometimes the humility to admit when we just don’t know.

We can’t afford to say one thing when our website, our ads, or our colleagues say something else. Think of the red flags that get raised when your answers don’t jibe with the other things they’ve seen and heard.

Were you inconsistent because you don’t know? They might question your credibility.

Were you inconsistent because you lied? They might question your integrity.

Were you inconsistent because the company doesn’t have a good process? They might question the business’ ethics.

People buy from people they trust. Now, more than ever, we have no choice but to be trustworthy. That means being transparent and consistent across all sources of information. What we say and do has to be consistent with what we claim—and what our company claims—our products and services can do. If not, we risk losing trust…and the sale.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is to be prepared. We can help.

If you’d like to see the rest of the series or read more blog posts from The WinSource, you can find them here.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!