I just hung up the phone with a potential customer. Everything seemed perfect; pricing was right where it needed to be, quantities looked great, production would have been easy, everything was local which is always easier for logistics, but he was already committed to another vendor.
Competitor = 1, Tim = 0...Right?...
As much as I’d love to blurt out a long-winded rant about how millennials want price AND quality and don’t care about small business blah, blah, blah. This customer was in his 60’s, loved local small business, and was impressed by our prices. However, he was committed to his current vendor and I respect and admire that. I thought to myself “this is the ideal customer, not only does he get it, but he is loyal even if that loyalty isn’t to my brand.”
I then told him that our mantra, when we don’t win a bid, isn’t defeat but that we want to be the best second option and that we will always be there for his company even if we aren’t his primary vendor. I know, what a sappy salesman-like thing to say, deflecting the “no” so I don’t have to choose fight or flight. But I meant it in earnest. He then went on to ask about our suppliers, the quality that we provide, the consulting that we offer as a free service, and how we take a unique approach to production. Being well connected in my industry and especially my ability to identify influencers, I was able to make connections for him that nearly guaranteed boosting his sales and more importantly, in his case, brand awareness. By the time we ended our call, he wanted to do business with us.
All generational consideration aside, people have expectations. Those include fair price, quality products, and expert staff. He had no intention of letting me quote his next job but by the end I had proved true at least one of his expectations-that I knew what I was talking about, the other two weren’t far behind. I ended up quoting him and he was pleased with where we landed but again, already gave the go-ahead to the other guy. No big deal.
This is not the first time nor will it be the last but oddly enough, this conversation led to a mental shift in the way I conduct business. I used to want companies to work with me. Now I want companies to want to work with me.