How Easy Can Your Customers Buy From You?

Here’s a screen shot of my personal delivery coming to me this morning from Amazon Now.  I ordered at 6:00am online for same-day delivery, selected my delivery window, and a window opened up with live tracking of my order on the vehicle as it approaches my home.  I selected a 8-10am time slot and now at 8:40am as it gets close I received a text update.

Is it easier for your customer to buy Keurig refills, or in my case–a watch, than it is that last unit of 2X4’s?

Or how about placing an order on your portal?

Or reaching a friendly customer service representative quickly?

The big boys in most industries are getting a lot of things right, a lot of things righted, and a lot of things right now.

Questions for you:

  1. Are you going to invest to catch up?
  2. Package and market yourself for acquisition?
  3. Or do nothing and disappear?

Here’s to Everyone Who Tells a Story About Their Company

Brochures. Websites. Introductory sales calls. Presentations to a broad industry audience. These opportunities are far too often used by sales reps, marketing departments, and company leaders to provide a picture about themselves, what they make or do, how big they are, how many pins in the map they have.

And not often enough do the messages make a statement to the customer, buyer, prospect, or world at large that resonates with an internal need, a desire to understand “what’s in it for them” and to see value and uniqueness they’re hungry for.

When you look at a group photograph you’re in–don’t you look for yourself first?  Don’t you want to see how you look?  We’re all interested in ourselves, our needs, and “looking” at a company, product, or service we’re considering is no different.

 

  • “How would my situation be different if I used this?”Coke
  • “What could I have or get from using this?”
  • “How has this helped other people like me be better or get an advantage?”

 

And yet so many companies still get this so wrong. We create brochures that quantify our size and locations, list out our products lines, but miss the opportunity to get the customer to see how their situation will be improved through their association with us.

So going forward, let’s start with the outside in. Let’s position our message, our pitch, our company from the customer’s point of view.  And not make it all about us.

If you want to see a perfect example of this, watch Steve Jobs’ talk below made in 1997 a couple of months after his return to Apple.  Textbook perfection on how to appeal to your audience.

Best of luck!

Don’t Go to “Camp Irrelevance”

What do you do to find new ways to create and add value to your customers, suppliers, and hopefully both–every day, week, and month of the year?

What do you do that is unique and can’t be provided by any other distributor or dealer?

And then what are you doing to build on top of that?

 

If you don’t have solid answers to those three questions, then welcome to Camp IrrelevanceCamp Irrelevance where apathetic middlemen go to die.  And even if you’ve got good answers, there still isn’t a guarantee things won’t change on you “just because that’s the way things work today.”  I know.  Me and 130 of my colleagues were personally put out of jobs 15 years ago by a manufacturer who, guess what—made the widgets and then put in place warehouses, trucks, sales reps, customer service, and AR–all things we did in our distribution business–none of which were unique. Sometimes things change no matter how good you are but you have a better chance if you make changes now.

 

Distributor Middlemen2

Imagine if there are 15 steps between where products are manufactured and where they are installed or used.  Distributors and dealers should get paid according to how many of these 15 steps they perform and the liability they absorb.

Now make a list of those 15 steps.  Then ask if they’re unique and that you can perform them materially better than a manufacturer or third party.

  1. Receive products at a warehouse.  Nope.
  2. Have the warehouse in the first place.  Nope.
  3. Stack products on racks or bins in a warehouse.  Nope.
  4. Do light assembly in the shop in the warehouse.  Nope.
  5. Hire a sales team to go call on the customer.  Nope.
  6. Have inside customer service people answer phones and take orders.  Nope.
  7. Get an employee to pull an order and load a truck.  Nope.
  8. Have trucks and deliver products to the right location.  Nope.
  9. Invoice the customer.  Nope.

…..and so on.  You get the point.

Unless you want to take on manufacturing, you’re probably going to want to to add more steps, more knowledge, more expertise, and more value closer to where the products are used.  Services galore.  And, you’re going to need to find a way to take costs out, increase efficiency, and compete with others that aren’t adding the value.  Those are the rules to play anymore.

And in these powerful, valued added services lays your competitive edge.  And your “lock” on being an invaluable part of the supply chain which gets the customer to say “I can’t imagine being in this business without you because of everything you do to help me, my business, my bottom line, and my success.”

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