sábado, 26 de março de 2011

Lessons for dog food sales representatives

(versão portuguesa abaixo)

Dog breeders are often contacted by dog food companies, trying to get them to switch to their brand(s) of kibble. Nothing out of the ordinary in that, that’s pretty much standard operating procedure. However, following a particularly frustrating (to say the least) recent couple of phone conversations and one e-mail, I decided to turn my rant about them into a “manual” for dog food salespersons, of mistakes not to make… or, as a friend called it, “Marketing for Dummies”! ;)

Remember it is you who are seeking a new client, it is not the potential client who contacted you. So:

1. Do not base you conversation about your brand of dog food on the price. Saying to a potential client “we want to know what brand of food you use so we can compete on the price” is not necessarily the best opening line and motto of the whole conversation. If you focus only on the price, the potential client may start to wonder about the quality of the food.

2. Even if your clients (who in theory are not as informed about dog food as you should be) say that “all premium foods are pretty much all the same”, that is not necessarily a good premise to base your conversation. After all, if you are selling a particular brand of food, you should be able to point out what’s the difference between it and the others.

3. You say you will send the prices by e-mail, but if the potential client asks you for more information – nutritional table, ingredients, special conditions for breeders – also send that information. That may be information you usually only send on a 2nd or 3rd contact, but if the potential client asks you for it and you do not send it, you may have ruined your chances at a 2nd or 3rd contact. Even if your price is better, the quality of the food will naturally be influential. And the conditions offered to the breeder – for each X bags bought you offer Y, advertising space, etc., can and will be a tie-breaker!
3a. Do not limit yourself to sending what you send to 95% of the clients because they “only” care about the price. There will be potential clients who want other information, and you need to adapt to that. Maybe it is only a minority, but everyone is a potential client (remember, you seeked them out, not the other way around!). And besides, often the most enquiring people are those who are a source of information and references to their peers (other potential clients)!
3b. Do not blame the person in the office sending the e-mail for the e-mail not getting everything the potential client asked for. As it is you contacting the client, it is your responsibility to ensure that the person receives what was requested!
3c. If you do not have the requested information about the quality of the food available to send by e-mail (and I am sure you can see the mistake in that, right?), ask for the person’s address and send the paper information. If the information is on a website, it will only take you 5 minutes to copy and paste the info from the site to an e-mail. Do not expect the potential client to do your homework for you!

3. When you do a follow-up phone call after the e-mail, it is bad policy to say “I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name”, that definitively does not help to build a confidence relationship! It will only take you a few seconds to read the name from the list when you’re dialing a number, so as not to embarrass yourself! And do not blame you having a list of hundreds of names to call for not checking the potential client’s name - that is your job!

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