Or do I really need to understand my customers?
I mean, seriously, they buy some stuff, they put it on the shelf and hope that we show up to buy it – that’s about it, right?
Target sells the same thing that Wal-Mart does, Best Buy has some of the same stuff as the Apple stores do, they are all the same, right?
If your customers include retailers, I hope you don’t agree with that statement at all. In fact, if you’ve been a salesperson, I hope that reading that made you cringe.
One of the first things that any salesperson has to do is to understand the difference between customers. Each customer has their own unique tendencies, buzz words, or focus’s that a good sales person can and should use when in contact with them.
You can, and I have, certainly bunch similar customers together in order analyze, report, track, or otherwise group them. For instance, for retailers, you have some retailers that could be put into a channel called the Mass Merchant channel that would include Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer, Meijer, and K-Mart. They all have similar (relative to other retailers) layouts, product mixes, distribution models, etc.
However, when calling on any one of these retailers, you should be focusing more on the unique, different aspects of the customer. That will allow you to focus your presentation and discussion on things that this customer needs from you or your product. After all, your product is unique and different from all the other similar products out there, right?
The way you present a line of products to Wal-Mart vs how you present them to Target should be different. And not just the logo on the first slide, either. I’ve seen too many presentations given that are the same, no matter who is being presented to that it’s just not funny. I’m not saying that every meeting has to have a unique, use once and done with it set of slides.
For instance, for a while, Target was segregating products into either a ‘pay less’ or a ‘get more’ group. If you knew that and your product fit into the ‘get more’ grouping, you could compare and contrast product features that made it a ‘more’ product. You could make sure to point out that it was still a great value with a lower retail, but the ‘more’ part of your product is what makes it desirable and deserving of the shelf space.
Every retailer and customer is different. Find out how they see themselves and use those points in your conversations with them. You will sell more, and add more value to your relationships with them.