I first met Theron about 15 years ago when I was switching from a nice dependable job like teaching to something strange and unusual called sales. I suppose you could say that Theron was, in many ways, a mentor for me.
Back then, he had 15 years of sales experience and I was always amazed at how easy he made selling look. For whatever reason, perhaps out of pity, he took to suggesting things for me to do and try.
One of the first things he ever said was, “Make sure that you have a ticket on your customer’s train.” Every time I tried to get him to explain what he meant, he’d just reverse the question on me. Over the years, as I’ve added to and subtracted from how I do sales, I always evaluate changes on whether they get me that ticket.
I know for sure that one meaning of the phrase is that keeping customers for a long time means knowing where they are headed. It also means making sure that they still know you are around between sales.
One of my customers is a car dealer in town. Turns out he has these promotional baseball caps with the company name on them. I asked him for one and he was more than happy to give me one.
A month later, I realized one of my life-long dreams and spent a bit of time in Hawaii. Of course, I promised everyone a postcard. For whatever reason, I had taken his company hat with me. Well, my wife took my picture with it on, the Pacific in the background, and then we had the film developed that night.
You could read the writing on his hat in the picture, and I figured it might make a nifty postcard. So I stuck it in an envelope and mailed it to him. That was six months ago. Ever since he received it, it’s been propped up on his desk. Now that’s getting a ticket on my customer’s train:
When I got back, I was the typical tourist who showed photos to anyone who would put up with me. As it turns out, a couple customers really liked this picture or that picture. I went and had those pictures enlarged, framed them, and then stopped in to visit to present them. There are nine customers now who have those framed pictures sitting on their office walls.
The photos are a daily reminder of who I am and as a result, what I do. The cost to do this long-term marketing was under $100.00.
Every salesperson who can at least meet his expenses has a list somewhere of their customers. Those salespeople earning a bit more than their expenses will also know when their customers last bought, how much, and when they might buy in the future. Salespeople earning one more level upward have devised some way of remembering to contact that person around the time of the next purchase.
Outstanding salespeople have learned how to ride along with their customers so that when a need arises, the first and perhaps only person they turn to is them.
You’ve heard the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind.” From the customer's point of view, the salesperson who sold them disappears from their daily awareness once the product is delivered and performing properly.
Why should a salesperson care about this? Because there are 10 other salespeople out there selling the same thing you are, and they are all calling on your customer. Do you want one of them saying to your customer, “Sure, things are great with your current supplier, but do you have a plan in place if things go into the hopper?”
You know it is going to happen. Do you want to disappear and perhaps have someone else take your place?
How many companies that you sell to have baseballstyle company hats? Company tee-shirts? Company mugs? Probably at least one. Offer to buy one of these. Your company contact will probably be flattered to give you one. Now take it on your next vacation. Take a picture of it and use it as a postcard. It’s amazing where you will find it posted. Every person who looks at it will be reminded of who you are and what you do.
Everyone has heard about sending birthday cards and holiday cards. These still keep you from disappearing even though everyone knows why you are sending them. Not original but still working.
As long as you have something to say of value to your customers, you can never contact them enough.
Just because you sold your client something yesterday, doesn’t mean he’ll know you're still around today. Let him know you are.
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