I am often asked at TLC, “Help me understand my company/people better” and “help us maximize how we sell our products.” While these are aspects of what I do, I really am in the business of disrupting the status quo in an effort to maximize each individuals’ and, correspondingly, each companies’ full potential.
Packaging and other collateral materials are pivotal for eye-catching moments and make for great presentation tools and impulse purchases. They do not necessarily close the deal, though. Reputations may help you get your foot in the door and may help you hold a valuable place in product acceptance, but they don’t necessarily equate to longevity. Toh-may-toh/to-mah-toh, poh-tay-toh/poh-tah-toh, what is it about your company that will set you apart from the pack? I believe it is the willingness to earn business and the care in maintaining that relationship that sets companies and products apart. A company’s or person’s success or failure ultimately hinges on how they deliver. It is imperative to recognize that a brand has a finite amount of time to demonstrate its net worth.
As the representation of that product you have a responsibility to understand your business, your niche in that cosmos, and be able and willing to anticipate your customers’ needs. The premise I put forth is even more important today with buy-outs and mergers, oversaturation of goods flooding the market, extended payment cycles and venture capitalists.
Recently, I had a chat with a retail customer where we discussed the “state of the state.” He shared what the company was noticing in its transactions and relationships and how it was impacting the business. The importance of that conversation teased at my brain for a few days and after reflection, I realized the absolute truth and power of his words. Without malice, but as a general statement about vendors and business relationships as a whole, he went on to explain what he felt about those relationships and where things were heading.
We spend so much time driving our business forward in search of that sweet spot that we don’t explore simple options that perpetuate success.
Todd Linsky, Principal & Owner, Todd Linsky Consulting
The point he mentioned that kicked my “spidey sense” into overdrive, was that with some vendors, once they get their product in the door they seem to lose the hunger to do more. What if in fact it’s not that they have lost interest but haven’t been trained to or don’t know how to grow that relationship and insure the product’s success? think the takeaway here is to see this next step as an opportunity—obviously continue to be interested, but more importantly invest the effort into learning about your client and what is important to them. Work closely enough with them so you can anticipate their needs and fill them. Be always willing to work at the pace of business but never accept the status quo. Be prepared to capitalize on opportunities that arise to elevate your product’s presence.
I dug deeper into his words and it caused me to think about relationship goals with each customer. Do you have them? What are they? Is it just sell more and hope it all works out? This point of settling is something that I teach and preach about never doing, because complacency can scream entitlement. Is there ever a good time for your customer to feel neglected or relegated to the end of the line? Take advantage of extending the relationship, and in effect, the value to both parties. I use this phrase constantly with my clients, “When you show people you care, you train them to care about you.”
This retailer’s experience wasn’t an anomaly; one person or company couldn’t have prompted such a dramatic response or position. A go-to-market strategy has to be deeper. Be a steward of customer relationships, because the customers’ first priority isn’t how they fit into your business, unless you give them a reason to care. Conversely, how you fit into their business should be your priority. Multiple vendors wanting to take your place, court your customers with a vengeance and the people that represent you in the field must demonstrate care for the customer and respect the client’s interests. Don’t let the honeymoon end; it’s much easier in the long run to be proactive rather than always reacting to a situation.
The retailer went on to say that when they reward vendors with more/bigger orders, its not necessarily because they deserve it, but rather its because it fits into “their” retail strategy at the time. And that time can have an expiration date. Tic-tock, time is running out.
You supply at the whim of the customer and at any time it can change if the prospects look better somewhere else, be it price, availability, convenience or a hungry vendor willing to invest. I believed his sincerity when he said they would pull it away and find someone else to supply their needs. “There is always someone else now.” This is a hit-it-home statement. What are you going to do about it?
We spend so much time driving our business forward in search of that sweet spot that we don’t explore simple options that perpetuate success. Review your goals, assess customer satisfaction, and adjust your game plan accordingly. I teach that to really know your customer you must be willing change your perspective and see business from their viewpoint. Do you listen to understand or just hear?
After sharing some of these points with a client, their response was, “I need to read this once a week to remind me of what my purpose really is. Cultivate relationships with customers and co-workers on a daily basis. The boxes I have to check off are all good stuff, but I need to come up for air and reach out to others every day.”
I know I’d much rather be in a relationship that allows me to anticipate needs and be able to head off any potential hazards than one that scrambles to put out fires.
My take away from that retailer call:
At TLC our purpose is simple; we want to change the conversation in the industry. We lead with integrity. Our goal is to be of value to our clients. TLC constantly strives to find new and innovative ways to help others flourish beyond what they thought possible. We accomplish this by putting our emphasis on people and developing relationships with purpose, that will ultimately drive the bottom line.