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Why I Chose Not to Work with You

So at the end of Spring, one client who was faring poorly - was faring poorly and I knew their effort to introduce a new service was not getting legs and another client threatened to end. The client who threatened to end, by the way, was not aware of how many leads he actually had - once he realized and closed a deal or two - he quickly changed his tune. I reached out to a former client to see if they would be interested in working together again.

The answer was "Yes", almost immediately, an email came in saying that the new owner wanted to talk about re-enagaging. They had a new product to launch and my timing was great, plus I knew everything about the old company, their products, and had connections. It was a perfect scenario on both sides, no training or ramp up even needed! The company had come under new management, but I did not know why.

We set up the first meeting, 2 hours of talking about past and present. The owner went on and on about how awful the prior management was, how mismanagement nearly caused the company ruin, but he treasured the employees there - one or two named who were "the best" - one who practically SAVED the firm cause of her tenacity and connections. It was a long conversation, but meaningful from a business update perspective.

There were a few interim meetings, I joined a hastily scheduled impromptu call with the team and he glowing spoke of strategy and all this great stuff. I submitted a proposal. Oh, he would pay me almost double my hourly rate and generous commission. Wow!

Then nothing. I called, I emailed. Nothing. Finally, we scheduled a call - supposed to be one hour to go over the proposal and discuss next steps. Well, when I tell you that that is NOT what happened! The owner not only suddenly became the penny pincher - "forgetting" what he stated as a rate and commission - clearly not having a whit of an inkling as to what he should offer, but he rambled for another two hours in what I term a vitriolic diatribe against everyone and everything associated with the prior company, the culture (which he mentioned over and over), and the products. It was all I had to not only tell the idiot to shut the fuck up, but my god - stay the hell on track. Holy Ravioli Batman! And, he kept going on about "the culture" and how even I exhibited "the culture" which is IMPOSSIBLE given I never went to their facility, worked with anyone in any kind of super close/direct fashion - how the hell could I have any "culture". I wouldn't have approached this company to re-engage if I had a bad experience, which I told him clearly - I was unaware of any issues, didn't care about them (past is over), and I was treated really well and did very well with them. The clod couldn't take the hint.

Even after I told the owner, I had to cut it off, he still rambled on - clearly with a need to control when the meeting ended. I was blown away. Already angry at my time and my remaining client's time being wasted and disgusted by the vitriol, I thought it over and emailed the next day - that he didn't have to worry about sending me anything - cause I wasn't going to go forward. His reply, "U R Making a mistake....".

A month later, the "hero" of the company whose tenacity and relationships were so crucial to their success changed her LINKEDIN profile to "Looking for Sales Job" and there were 3 people listed for the firm.

The only mistake I made was letting this guy waste my time as much as he did. Wow! Was that not the right move or what! Bye-bye!

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 01:33:46 pm, Categories: News, Background, Information

The truth about landing the whale

Recently, my clients have gained entry into many mammoth companies with large deals pending.

Now and in the past those firms included IBM, walmart, Goldman Sachs, other Fortune 500 - names like Jetblue, and more.

Jill Kornrath has written books and people talk about doing all kinds of stuff to get the "C" level and enter accounts. Now stupid crap is floating about no cold calls, social media, and no follow up - can you believe that?

It is very simple:
1. Relevancy of product, person, message
2. Good communication
3. Follow up and follow through. No wasted or wasteful communication.

And - most importantly Time. It took me a minimum of two YEARs to land these accounts in a prospecting cycle. That's right, YEARS. Continuous follow up, follow thru, and upkeep.

That is the secret no one tells you. There are no shortcuts or special tricks. And - cold calls do work very well.

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 08:00:43 am, Categories: News, Information

Harvard Business Review - July 2008

Speaking of entrepreneurial hubris...sometimes not enough exists when dealing with difficult clients...

The Harvard Business Review, one of the most prestigious business publications, selected my letter for the July 2008 issue.

The letter is a commentary on firing customers. Interestingly, Marketing News also had an article similiar to that. I bet I will get some interesting rebuke commentary, but I know its coming.

Permalink 05/22/08 -- 11:28:40 pm, Categories: News

Kohls: Another Example of a Terrible Sales "Dis" Incentive

Like many department stores, Kohls emphasizes the importance of signing up customers for department credit cards. Research has shown generally that owners of department store credit cards will stay more loyal and shop more frequently at that particular store. Associates who sign up customers do get a little "commission" which does help out on the financial end.

For 2008, the company has decided to implement what I call a "get credit or die policy", meaning associates (salesfloor and register) now must sign up customers for credit and meet certain goals per month or else risk 1) cutting hours back or 2) termination. Nice way to treat your long term loyal associates!

Let us discuss why this new "credit or die policy" is one of the worst examples of customer retention and spending incentives ever. Kohl's needs to fire its CMO or whoever thought of this one (plus the "rush hours" was outright stupid too..but that is another post).

As many people, except the Corporate Management, seem to realize is that we are in a recession and people will NOT a) spend money on clothing - which prices are going up b) sign up for high rate credit cards when they are trying to stay out of debt by - oh, paying mortgages, gas, electric bills which are going up, food - which has gone up...trying to stay alive??

In this particular region, the Kohl's stores are well known and the rate of new area entrants is not particularly high. What that translates to is SATURATION. Those people who have charge cards - have them, those that don't - probably don't for good reason. Maybe one out of 50 people are new to the area or to Kohl's and would have the propensity to sign for a card. The rate of actual new sign ups will be significantly less overall.

Second. What is more important? A piece of plastic which only gets used when there is a credit incentive (additional discount applied for using the card) or associates who develop relationships and "treat the customer right". I am sure research will show that customers will likely return to a store and/or buy more if they are treated with respect, personal attention, and knowledgeable advisors. The better the treatment, pricing, and environment (neat racks, clean store) the more often they will return and return specifically to a particular store. Emphasis should be on customer service above all. Pressuring associates to solicit credit and threatening them with termination, isn't going to translate to happy associates willing to help a customer first!

Third: Consider the culture change. In the past, floor associates were happy to refer customers to register people and let them take the credit for - credit. Talk to Irene or Joanne, they will set you up with the account! I have to help that gentleman over there, he is lost over a gift for his wife. Now, floor associates will have to stop everything to walk the customer to the register and sign them up, hoping the register person won't steal their credit. Plus, Meghan in juniors is going ask Customer A for credit, Rachel will ask her in Misses, John will ask her yet again in housewares....uh, Customer A is going to drop the merchandise walk out and never return because of the "annoying and pesty salespeople pushing credit". The culture of collaboration and teamwork, plus helpful friendly focus will deteriorate into a competitive environment full of distrust.

Fourth: There are associates who are superior at customer service, cleaning the floor, selling jewelry, putting things away, etc, but who are not good at "selling" or asking people for "things". There are old people, disabled people, and minors...they are not able to fulfill the credit goal. Remember, servicing and selling are two different skill sets. In order to keep a job they now have to do something or yet another task that they are really unable to do. This is not fair.

As far as getting hours cut, I think that is happening naturally as the number and frequency of customers is diminishing resulting from the need for survival elements that overcome the latest "coffee stained shirt" from Vera Wang. So, why threaten to cut them more? Aren't the associates suffering enough? Many have bills to pay, cars to pay for, college educations, medical bills! MY GOD - take care of your employees!!!!!!!!! Talk about how you can give hours to people in light of challenging conditions, not how you can financially hurt them MORE.

The stores should have a credit goal for the month,
everyone should share in achieving that goal, however - this should not be the be all end all of someone's job or hourly assignments. We are in bad economic times, take care of your associates so they will stay with you. Focus on customer service, improving merchandise selection and quality, and incentivizing through credit contests or competitions.

Permalink 02/09/08 -- 03:05:42 pm, Categories: News

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