Unless they are family, or are under encouragement from someone on the Sopranos, people have three reasons to buy from you.
The lowest price.
The best quality.
The best delivery.
Which do you think it is?
When I was the newly minted quality manager at a little steel operation in Medina, Ohio, I was confident that the reason people bought from us was because of our quality (that’s the second answer shown above). I’m betting that many of you believe that too- your brochures and websites always have a big section and color photo about your quality.
My vice president at the time was convinced that customers bought solely on price. “The Sales Department is always coming in here trying to get me to lower my price.”
And that was true- it was always the outside salesmen who were trying to wheedle down the price another fifty cents or a buck, it seemed. So my VP was convinced that it was the very first answer given above.
The Wisdom of Inside Sales.
It took a veteran inside salesperson to straighten this out for me.
“It’s not your Quality,” he said to me, saying quality with a capital “Q”.
“If your Quality isn’t adequate, he’ll never call back again. You won’t get any orders. Quality is a given.”
That took the new quality manager down a peg or two…
“And it’s not price. The material will sell for the market price- what the market says its worth.”
He let me stand there and think for a moment.
“Hmm, I’m wrong, the VP is wrong, and the outside sales guys are wrong?” I asked.
“I take orders from customers all day long. That’s what I do. None call me and say, ‘I’d like some of your quality XYZ today.’ Every customer that calls me asks me this question: “Do you have any XYZ in stock?”
“Do you have it in stock?”
“That’s why people buy from us! ‘If it’s in stock, we have it.’ It better meet the standard for quality, or they won’t call again. They won’t pay one penny more than what it would cost if they could get it someplace else- if someplace else has it in stock.”
“People buy from us because of our delivery.”
For those of you keeping track, that is the third answer.
The best delivery.