Monday 30 July 2012

Davis Controls Ltd. - Understanding Our Customers

Understanding our customers business as well as their application is important to the success of our relationship.  Then using that knowledge to provide him or her with the best possible solution is our mission.  We do our best to make sure that every proposal that we make, positively affects our customer’s bottom line, by providing reliable, high quality, technical solutions.

 When our sales reps realize that the majority of customers first choose who to buy from before deciding on what to buy and that the power of their influence has less to do with content and more to do with context and their listening and questioning skills, they become less focused on pitching Features and Benefits and more determined to ask the right questions, listen carefully and understand the problem from the customers point of view.

With all of the above in mind, we recently employed Tangent Knowledge Systems to conduct a two day Sales Training seminar entitled “Selling has Nothing to do with Selling”.  What appealed to me was that Tangent promotes a neutral, non-selling posture that requires the salesperson to have a deep and thorough understanding of the customer's business, problems and compelling reasons to change.

Included among the long list of topics discussed were;

·         Poor prospecting skills that stunt sales growth

·         Lack of a systematic sales process, resulting in poor pipeline management and unpredictable forecasting

·         Wasteful follow up, quoting and proposing techniques that lead to long sales cycles and higher costs of sales

·         Sales people causing their own frustration by wasting time, information and resources due to improper account qualification.

·         Salespeople's inability to call at higher levels and to locate true decision makers, causing lost opportunities and sales.

·         Inability to truly differentiate one's offering, causing commoditization and erosion of margins.

·         Salespeople selling transactionally instead of strategically, causing higher acquisition costs and bad deals.

Time will tell if this coaching exercise will lead to enough behaviour modification to improve individual performance and differentiate Davis Controls from our competition.



Monday 9 July 2012

Davis Controls Ltd. - "The Magic Bullet"

And while prestigious performance awards from suppliers and the positive message of appreciation for outstanding results that they convey are an important prize for any Industrial Distributor or Application Service Provider to receive, they are not easily earned or casually conferred.  They are the official, ceremonial recognition of months of determined preparation, application engineering, demonstration, solution selling, negotiation, perseverance and success.

But if you were to ask me, or even better, a Customer...Why did we win the order?... What set us apart ?...  What was different enough about us to convince the consulting engineer to specify us or the customer to buy from us?  What answer would we get?  I am pretty sure that in most cases, it would not be “PRICE” least I hope it would not be.

Under ideal circumstances, we need a strong economy and healthy target industries that are growing and spending money, but these alone do not guarantee Davis the sale.  So WHY US?  What is our differentiator?  Do we even have one?

I heard a speaker recently who insisted that we paint ourselves into ‘Commodity Corner’ if we think that any of the following elements are what make us special;

Great Customer Service: Who doesn’t lay claim to great customer service, whether it’s true or not

Quality:  We have quality products that will do the job, but so do many of our competitors

Our Reputation / Our Brand: - Of course this is important.  We could not even open our doors day after day if Davis Controls had a bad reputation, but how much business does this win?

Good Results: If we didn’t produce good results, we wouldn’t even be here

Our Employees / Our People / Our Team:  Once again, who doesn’t say this?

Expertise:  Everyone says “We have Trained and Knowledgeable sales reps”.  I would be the first to insist that Product knowledge is critical...and we do our best to provide training where needed, but surely this must be presumed by every customer

Consistent and Reliable: This is where I can put in a plug for Macola and e-Synergy and our CRM and BAM software.  These tools help us to be consistent and reliable quickly, but these are only tools

We are least I hope we are

We are Innovative…at least I am told we are

Customers Trust us / They have a Relationship with us 

All of these traits and characteristics of a corporate formula for success are essential and I am convinced that we do them all pretty well, but they are also expected by our customers.  Collectively, they represent the minimum requirements to even be in the game.  Everybody else is laying claim to these ‘unique differentiators’ too. They have become a punch line and when we say them, we sound the same as everyone else.

When I heard this entire list of ‘essentials’ disqualified as being “too essential” to every business to be claimed by any one business as their differentiator, at first I thought, ‘WOW, that’s right.  We need to identify and capitalize on something that is so different and uniquely ours that it sets us apart from everyone else’.

When I heard the same argument a second time, I thought, ‘it’s compelling, but something is just NOT right with the premise’.  A winning combination of all of these things must surely create a competitive advantage.

When I heard these ten important corporate attributes dismissed as commodities for the third time, I realized what I didn’t agree with.  Sure everyone claims to be uniquely expert in some or all of these areas, but the truth is; they can’t all be.  Everyone has products, some are better than others.  Everyone provides a service; some do it better than others.  Everyone has a reputation – again, some are better than others, but the real flaw in the argument is the suggestion that good people are commodities.  In the same way that weak, unskilled, untrained, unmotivated people are corporate liabilities, good people with superior skills and strong values can and do make all the difference.

The ‘Magic Bullet’ is the people. It has to be!  They cannot be dismissed.

And just as important as having good people, is having time with good prospects.  There is never enough time.  We don’t have enough of it and neither does our customer.  Success begins with successfully arranging for a customer to see us and ends by making the most with the time we are granted.  Once we have been given a sales opportunity, we can’t afford to waste it with an ineffective or unproductive presentation.