I have spent a lot of time this week preparing for a speech in Tucson next week. I am speaking at the NSGA (National Sporting Goods Association) annual convention. My audience is made up of owners of sporting goods dealers selling to teams/schools/school districts as well as manufacturers. I’m in a tough spot…I immediately precede Erin Andrews as the Celebrity keynote speaker for lunch. There may be a stampede at the end of my speech to get good seats…(I think it is bad form for me to lead the stampede, but I am an Erin Andrews fan and I may look for a back exit to get there first…I’m just sayin’).

The core idea of the speech is Relationship Selling vs. Organizationship Selling.

Relationship selling is about one-to-one selling. Very risky. In the buying world of today, everything is in flux, including:

  • Buying processes
  • Personnel
  • Competitors
  • Pricing
  • Technology

Developing just one relationship in a company or organization is a bad strategy because too many things are moving beyond that one person’s control. Organizationship selling means changing the key relationship dynamic from one-to-one to either one-to-many or even better, many-to-many.

Specifically, for my audience this coming week, as a manufacturer’s representative, a dealer or distributor, your number highest value is found in the dimensions of service, which include:

  • Accuracy – Orders are right, on time, delivered correctly.
  • Availability – What the customer wants they get.
  • Accessibility – Customer can reach her rep when she needs too.
  • Choice – Customer has options of brand, color, product and so on.
  • Responsiveness – When there are bumps, we jump and fix, fast and friendly.
  • Price – We are market competitive and value relevant.

The real risk of your number one value being service is this:

When you win on service, you win one service experience at a time, one person at a time.

Too often this value is experienced by just your direct buyer, because the sales model is “relationship selling.” For the other members of the buying organization, service is a negative performance value. As long as nothing goes wrong, they don’t value the experience. Which means there is little connection to the service you are providing.

For the companies who are in this predicament, they have to move the service experience from a person to a community of influence- an organization of all the recipients of the value. Here’s how:

Build an Organization picture – Who are all of the connected influencers to the Decision-Maker? One of the easiest tools for doing this is asking. OK- maybe too easy. How about mapping your contacts through LinkedIn to their contacts in their organization? In the area of sporting goods sales people, that community of influence goes well past the school or club. The fans, boosters, players and community sponsors all fit in that picture.

Implement the 5 C’s of Service Experience

  1. Create the Service Experience – Your company is hopefully already doing this at a world-class level since it is your number one value to your customers and prospects. This means touchpoint by touchpoint evaluation of the experience and making certain that it represents best-in-class service. Zappos creates this for its customers and
  2. Capture the Service Experience – World class service becomes legendary because the story is captured and retold. You need to capture the service experience in story format so that it can be posted, emailed, published, videotaped and communicated to your clients and prospects. Think Zappos and Neiman-Marcus. Legends are not legends because of service alone…they are legends because their service is captured in stories that are re-told.
  3. Get Credit for the Service Experience – Apply for the awards, get the stories re-told in the papers, publish them on your website and videotape the testimonials. You must take credit for what is phenomenal and then get credit in the marketplace. Testimonials include pictures of your customers and their service experiences. The critical piece is that you are getting the credit.
  4. Communicate – Through your market touchpoints you need to tell your story to every one who is listening. This needs to pop up when they come to your website, go out in your digital newsletter, be a part of the inserts into your boxes and go to your customers. The service experience communication is a constant drum beat that pushes out the remarkable difference of your company to the market.
  5. Cash in – Invite current customers to expand their service experience and new customers to receive the service experience. This is promotion work plain and simple. With every capture/credit/communicate cycle there needs to be a call to action for the market. If you are the true world-class provider of the service experience in your industry, customers will be grateful to find you.

The world of the dealer/distributor/MFR is under attack. The service experience is the last defense. It can be a great offense if you execute a 5 C’s program to get the value message to the larger communities of influence.


In the next few weeks, I’ll be kicking off  my Big Sale Factory Level One Training in Chicago, St. Louis and London. It’s a program designed to change the way your company handles sales, creating the following benefits:

  • A business acceptance process that eliminates wasted efforts.
  • A compelling corporate message designed to secure executive sponsorship.
  • Insight on reading the minds of large account decision makers and how to make that work for you.
  • A dashboard and management tools for directing and controlling every aspect of the sale.
  • Techniques for creating the best possible team for each sales opportunity.
  • Management plans for removing inefficiencies and accelerating performances.

If you’d like more information on the program, please check out the landing page over at www.huntbigsales.com/workshops.php.

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