Thrown under the bus
Scott Bidwell, President/COO
I was listening to the morning news recently when I heard a story with an outcome so bizarre, I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn't. Here's the scenario:
Long Island school bus driver George Daw was nearing the end of his route. Golf-ball sized hail and torrential rain made the drive particularly difficult. As he navigated the increasingly treacherous roads, he came upon three police officers and their unmarked police cruiser that had stalled and was filling with water. Mr. Daw made a split decision. He told the one teen student left on the SUV mini-bus he's driving to go to the back of the bus and then proceeded to stop to pick up the stranded officers, in effect, rescuing them. He's a hero right? Wrong. Mr. Daw's employer, the Educational Bus Company fired this Good Samaritan, saying he violated company policy which prohibits drivers from picking up unscheduled passengers.
In this instance, the offending company's management team chose obstinance over flexibility in how it applied company policy, leading them down a path that can most kindly be described as a PR fiasco. Consider the alternate response available to the bus company. They could have chosen to praise their driver's actions which resulted in three officers and a student being delivered safely home to their loved ones. They could have used him as an example of the qualities they seek when hiring drivers to shepherd children to and from school – responsible, compassionate and composed under pressure to name a few. I'm still shaking my head. This company had an opportunity to shine, yet ended up throwing egg on its own face.
In today's shaky economic environment, business owners are more compelled than ever before to find ways to differentiate themselves. It seems that, as this scenario demonstrates, a company can be so bent on enforcing “policy” it actually misses a golden opportunity to set itself apart – even when that opportunity is hand-delivered and wrapped in a pretty bow. This month's “Gimme 5” guest, Ray Barry, speaks to differentiation and its importance to RIM services providers. We're honored to be able to share some of Ray's expertise with you and hope that, when the occasion to shine presents itself to your business, you'll seize it. To do otherwise, really would be a joke.
BTW, the bus company later offered Mr. Daw his job back, but in think the damage had already been done, front page headline, back page retraction.
Do you know of a company (your own perhaps?) that recognized an opportunity to define itself differently from others in the market and did so in an exceptional manner? We'd love to hear about it. Email your story to: SBidwell@AndrewsSoftware.com.
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This month's "Gimme 5" expert is Ray Barry, President of Total Training Services and the founder of the very popular Shred School. We think you'll find that there is plenty of sales insight packed into Ray's responses to our "Gimme 5" questions.
1. You've written that "the most important quality that top sale professionals and business owners possess is without a doubt, a positive attitude". Obviously, some people are more intrinsically positive than others. Are there ways a sales pro can nurture a more positive attitude that can then translate to improved sales success?
You are correct that there are people who are more positive than others; however, a positive attitude can be a learned behavior. One of the best ways I have found for a sales professional to maintain a positive attitude is to read something positive at the start of each day. Do it first thing in the morning. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. I'd also suggest that a salesperson not watch the news, especially these days. Outside of sports perhaps, it's so negative. Another way to maintain your positivity is to stay away from negative people. They will simply bring you down. I've never met a successful sales professional who had a negative attitude – ever. They don't exist.
2. Aside from a positive attitude, what are the top 3 tools or techniques for sales success?
Let's talk about the qualities of a sales professional first. We've already discussed what I consider to be the most important quality, positive attitude. My second most important quality in a sales pro would be to determine if they are coachable or teachable. If not, they'll be too set in their ways and unable to change with the industry or sales process. My third and final key quality is whether or not they are internally motivated? Do they want to get better at what they're doing or do you have to stand over their shoulder? I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that a great salesperson has to be very goal-oriented. They have to have their goals measurable where they can see them every single day.
As for tools, the top 3 sales tools from the sales toolbox would include:
- A list of targeted questions for each prospect. We don't want to lecture the prospect. We want to be more like a doctor with a patient. These questions help diagnose the prospect's needs correctly to help you as a salesperson “prescribe the best medicine”. These questions should also help differentiate you from the competition and should be appropriate for each potential prospect.
- Testimonials. They're the best way to handle objections. They're the proof that you're the best.
- Having the most professional proposal. Obviously, the look and feel of your proposal should reflect the highest level of professionalism, including correct grammar and spelling. Also, be sure that the proposal addresses what the prospect identified as the company's needs and concerns.
3. Having said that, you've also helped over 250 destruction companies (some of which also provide records and media storage) boost their bottom lines. Are there sales tips that are unique to RIM service sales professionals?
Because the sales cycle is longer for record centers than it is for destruction companies, timing and need are key. Records center salespeople need to be more persistent in positioning themselves as the best choice in the market. Whether it be destruction, records or media, I think it's critically important for these sales pros to be perceived as experts in their markets. What I mean is that they are the security expert, the compliance expert – NOT the shredding or records expert.
4. The ability to effectively communicate is critical in sales. From one-on-one meetings to email to web meetings, there are so many options for reaching prospects these days. What's your preferred or "best method" for communicating with clients and prospects?
My preferred method of communication is definitely face-to-face when possible. It's proven that face-to-face meetings result in more success in sales. Having said that, it's key for salespeople to recognize that their preferred methods of communication may not be the preferred method for the prospect. It's fair to ask a prospect during that first meeting “What is your preferred medium for communication? How would you prefer I follow up with you?” If email is what they prefer that's great; however, at some point, be sure to have a conversation to review key parts of the proposal. Be sure to use communication to your advantage to help lead the decision-making process. With so many options, the great thing is that there really is no reason NOT to stay in touch with clients and prospects.
5. These are tough economic times, yet Apple sales during this recession are testament to the fact that a breakthrough product will transcend price when a customer is making a buying decision. Do you have advice for RIM services companies trying to differentiate themselves from others in their respective markets?
Apple is a great example of a company creating a deeper reason for customers to do business with them. I'm currently reading Simon Synek's book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” In it, he talks about how people do business with companies not because of WHAT they do, but WHY they do it. Let's take Apple. What Apple stands for is going against the status quo. For RIM services companies, they aren't just storing or shredding documents. They want to help companies protect themselves against identity theft or corporate espionage, for example. A salesperson should ask, “How are we creating value in the market?” and “What does our company stand for?”
Companies that excel in a tough economy are successful for deeper reasons than price. Companies are still buying, although they may be buying a bit differently or not as much which means the RIM services sales professional has to do a better job of differentiating his company.
Many thanks to Ray for sharing a bit of his extensive sales expertise with us. You'll find information regarding upcoming Shred School events under Upcoming Events in the left-hand column of this newsletter.
If you would like more detailed information about Shred School or to register, visit www.shredschool.com or www.totaltrainingservices.com. You can also call 864-699-8417. Ray can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A "Gimme 5" Footnote
Last month, our inaugural "Gimme 5" interview featured Lori Palmer, EVP for REB Storage Systems Int'l. We hope you learned as much from reading her responses to our 5 questions as we learned during the interview process.
Lori has shared a link to the latest REB video, which we had hoped to include as part of last month's article. They were still putting the final touches on it, so It wasn't quite ready at that time; however, the final edits are complete and we are pleased to share it with you now. Check it out at www.rebsteel.com or on YouTube at http://youtu.be/FD20UG_5Zgo.
We'd also like to congratulate REB on the opening of their NEW west coast warehouse. Click here to view the full press release.
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Veri-Shred 2.4.116 released
Veri-Shred users will find our latest Veri-Shred release, 2.4.116, delivers on many client-driven enhancements and new features. These innovative and business-critical features include:
- New Go Green! settings have been added to the Resources tab for
the Environmental Reports. Foreign currency and metric support has been added.
- New Settings have been added to the Resources tab to allow Post-
Finish Shredding Certificates to be emailed to customers.
- New settings have been added to the Routing tab allowing a
complete integration with UPS Logistics’ RoadNet Anywhere mapping software.
- A new one-page version of the Service Order & Shred Certificate is now available.
ASI clients can access the complete release notes document on the ASI website. (Remember that a username and password are required to view release notes.)
Additionally, the Veri-Shred update is available at the Product Updates page.
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