marketing & sales: Let Go of the Past
I call it FIP. Fine in the Past. It refers to all the sales and marketing efforts, ideas, policies, principles, techniques and strategies that worked well in the past (i.e., before 2010), but are no longer effective.
I still recall a poignant moment with an attendee at one of my seminars. During the break, he came up to me and said this: "I've been in business for 17 years. And we've done well. But now it seems like everything is changing, and I don't know what to do."
He went on to explain he had built his formerly thriving tool and die business on certain core principles: quality workmanship, competitive prices and good service. Those principles, adhered to with discipline and conviction, had brought him word-of-mouth business consistently over the years. But they were no longer working, and his business was floundering. The pain and confusion were written all over his face as he contemplated the prospect of seeing his business wither away.
Those principles are some of the most common examples of FIP. At one time, you could distinguish your business from others on the basis of these and other FIP principles. Now, however, the bar has risen. Because there is so much churn in our marketplace and the competition is so fierce, the kinds of service and quality that were sufficient to distinguish yourself from your competition are no longer sufficient. Your customers expect previously outstanding levels of service and quality from every supplier. What was sufficient a few years ago is still necessary today, but no longer enough. Your job is to create an attractive operation that will pull customers to you and then keep them coming back.
Be sure to avoid these additional FIP practices:
FIP #1: Creating sales by relying totally on outside salespeople. It was OK to hire a number of salespeople, give them some basic training and then charge them with "Go forth and sell a lot." Sales territories were geographically based and each salesperson was a clone of the other. Accountability was a nasty word that no one repeated.