What to Do When Your Regular Buyer Leaves the Company
Edition: October 2001 - Vol 9 Number 10
Author: Art Sobczak
So you've been beaten up pretty badly for the day. Your prospecting yielded zilch, and you're gazing up at a quota number that seemingly appears helium-filled, floating a bit more out of your grasp every day. Paging through your tickler system, looking for a member of the 20% club of your account base that represents 80% of your business, you're searching for a slam dunk that will book you some quick numbers so you can bob at least up to quota sea level.
Ah-ha, here's one! Looks like it's time for them to order.
''Quality Industries, may I help you?''
''Yes,'' you respond confidently. ''I'd like to speak with Kyle Johnson.''
''I'm sorry, but Mr. Johnson is no longer with our company.''
Your heart sinks faster than a high-rise elevator. You're searching for an intelligent response. ''Uhhhh,'' is the first sound you can muster. ''What happened to him?''
''He's just no longer with the company.'' Code words for being canned. Wonderful, here's a guy you had a great relationship with, always had time to shoot the bull (maybe that's why he's no longer there), and always could be counted on for an order. He loved your products. Oh well, better find out who the new guy is. So you get the name of Jennifer Stevens, hang up, and regroup.
Ever been in that situation? Most of us have. Here's what you don't want to do.
''Hi 'ya, Jennifer? Hey, I'm Dale Wilson with Complete Supply. I hear you took ol' Kyle Johnson's place. Well, Kyle used to buy all his fittings and bearings from me, and I know it's getting about time for you guys to reorder and I'm sure you'll want to do the same thing, so I'd like to talk with you a bit about the way he did things and get you going on your next order here.''
That would only be funny if I hadn't heard it before. Many times, actually.
Let's look at some better alternatives for working with new buyers.
1. Don't Assume. Keep in mind the new person had a life before taking this position, and might have existing relationships with other vendorsmaybe even stronger than the one you had with the person he/she replaced. Coming across cocky is a lock to get you crossed off the list.
2. Send a Welcome Note or Card. When you learn the new person's name, hand write a card and note, congratulating them on their position. DO NOT sell in the card. Mention you look forward to speaking with them, and sign it with your name, and your company's name. They won't get much mail personally addressed to them during their first few weeks on the job, so your gesture will be memorable.
3. Learn About Them. You likely have allies in the department. Snoop around. Learn where the person came from, personal interests, what they've been doing in their first few days there.
4. Call to Introduce Yourself, Add Value. Here's where you need to make the best impression. ''Hello Ms. Stevens, I'm Dale Wilson with Complete Supply. First, congratulations again on your new position with Quality Industries. (pause, chit chat) I've had the opportunity over the past several years to provide Quality with bearings and fittings that the engineering department says works superbly in your line of wheels and components. I know you're probably quite busy in your new position there, and I'd like to arrange a time when we could take about 20 minutes by phone to discuss how you like to deal with vendors, your preferences, and anything that I can do to make your job run smoothly.''
Notice this approach is focused entirely on the new buyer, not on the caller. Granted, notice the caller is coming in with some status, that of a long-time vendor. But he's not flaunting it and ramming it down the new buyer's throat as that's the way things have and will be done.
Oh, by the way. Do find out where your old buyer went and call him there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in working with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing ''rejection.'' For more information he can be reached at:Business By Phone Inc.13254 Stevens St, Omaha, NE, 68137 Phone:800-326-7721 Fax:402-896-3353 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.businessbyphone.com