Don’t get Stuck in a Rut
Don’t get Stuck in a Rut
Many years ago I was a sales manager for the US division of a large multinational corporation. Sales were decent and I was making a good living. Richard Harshman, the president of the company, and a good guy, let me manage my brokers as I saw fit. Life was great. I was also stuck in a rut.
Then management decided to make some changes. They felt that one of our brands could command a larger share of market. Defying all logic (in my mind) they raised the price of the product while reducing the size. They also took away most of the promotional money that we were using to wheel and deal … basically what we used to buy business. At the time the brand was generating about a million dollars in sales in the US. “Kiss that business goodbye”, I thought, “We’ll be lucky to sell anything”.
Fortunately for me, and everyone else in the company, Richard and the leadership knew what they were doing. They created a legend around the product, and appealed to the consumer by running an emotional and highly effective advertising campaign on TV. This generated an unprecedented demand so that the retailers were compelled to stock the item.
In fact it was several years before manufacturing could even begin to keep up with the demand. While it was nightmarish trying to keep customers supplied, it also eliminated much of the outrageous stocking demands that are the norm for doing business with today’s major retailers. Price was not an issue.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Especially when things are going well. We tend to get complacent. Business is good. Sales are fine. We’re satisfied with life. We deserve a break after years of struggle, so why not relax and let things be? Here’s why: Change happens. It happens all the time. Usually it happens when we least expect it and when we’re least prepared to deal with it.
Don’t take your customers for granted. They don’t remember what you did for them yesterday. Your competition is knocking on their doors with newer and better offers every day. You have to consistently earn their loyalty or they’ll go somewhere else.
If you’re a sales manager, don’t take your salespeople for granted. The good ones are always being recruited and tempted by greener pastures. Sometimes you wish the bad ones would leave too. Ever think about sending their resumes to the competition?
Change happens and you had better be prepared for it. Stay on top of your business and personal life. Do your job as best you can, but expect some bumps along the road. Have an emergency plan and the funds to cover it. Hopefully, it won’t be needed. If it is, you’re covered.
Incidentally, the product I mentioned at the start was Werther’s Original. Today you can find it anywhere confectionery is sold.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and sales professionals. For more information please go to http://www.clevelstrategic.com