Big Questions – No Answers

Just a fun post.  During lunch today I was following some “rabbit trails” and came accross Answers to 42 of Lifes Largest Questions.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.02/bigquestions.html?pg=1&topic=bigquestions&topic_set=

The above link is to Wired Magazine which I sometimes read in print form.  It poses several of lifes great mysteries.  You will be hard pressed to find any answers.  We sometimes answer with FACT that is later proved wrong.  I call that “Current Wisdom”.

Current Wisdom makes me slow to buy into life changing understandings.

Have Fun

Buying decisions are made for one of five reasons…Reason #3 Delivery

How’s your delivery?  Well, the only person that can speak to that is your customer.  Delivery is quite often the trump card at the buying table.  Delivery of a small product can enable a large project…or hold it up.  The value of the project is far greater than the products price and not having it can be extremly costly.

Our delivery performance is compared to what we say that it will be.  If we state that our “product will ship in 48 hours or less” and it does not happen we have a performance failure.  If, on a manufactured item, delivery is quoted in 10 working days…then nine days is good…ten equals “as promised” and eleven represents a utter failure.  In our society we are spoiled to quick-quick-quick and many of our cost initatives require just-in-time purchasing.  A failure reminds me of the commercial about credit cards – everything is running smoothly until the guy pulls out cash and trys to pay for his meal.  This departure from the flow causes the wheels to come off of the whole process.  Order is restored only when the predictable transactions once again occur.

Delivery is a performance that is measured and stored by our customers and used in their evaluation of their vendors.  Failures and successes in the area of delivery can significantly effect our vendor score and our next opportunity to bid may be met with our past failures.  It is important in the bidding process not to “fudge” a day or two.  Stating what will happen is more important than getting the order based on things that cannot happen.

To be totally self-serving….John and his production crew at Bluff Manufacturing has maintained a 99% on-time shipping record for over a year now. 

Good selling.

Buying decisions are made for one of five reasons…Reason #2 Quality

Quality is a relative term with both ends of the spectrum being open.  One thing is of higher or lesser quality than another but nothing being of absolute total quality or totally absent of quality.  Although, I think I have owned things that almost meet the “absent” attribute.

One of the definitions in Wikipedia is “the achievement of excellence of an object (good quality ice – i.e. not of inferior grade).  The need for quality is part of the value judgment we all make in all purchases.  Quality usually has cost attached to it.  Things are made from better materials or there are more experienced hands involved.  Value is the balance of quality vs price vs application need.  The ride to work would be smoother were I driving a Rolls Royce but I make it comfortably and safely in my Toyota van.  Balance that against fighting the DFW traffic in a Hugo.  The value proposition is $150k vs $30k vs $9k.  The value for me is my purchase of the van.

Now to the equipment we sell.  Too many times our customers have Toyota needs but want Rolls Royce quality at Hugo pricing.  A lot less money is spent on “branding” of industrial products than on brand-building of toothpaste or hair spray.  So how is one to know which brand is the higher value.  That is where you as a salesperson add value to this transaction.  Either you personally or your company thru “tribal knowledge” has experience both good and bad with the products you sell.  A product that consistently is causing problems is probably poorly made and of less value.  It may allow you to be the “low bidder” but it also may be the last time you are asked to bid.  Conversely, a product that is put into service and more or less forgotten is probably delivering its value day by day.  IF YOU ARE LOW BID EVERYTIME YOU ARE SELLING JUNK.  Junk dealers are not long term partners for business.

Another way of determining value is thru 3rd party certifications like ANSI.  The ANSI certification assures the end user that the product is consistently built ensuring predictable results every time.  The very small price difference between a bad product and one that delivers is more than made up thru “no down time”, injuries (lack of) and just not have to screw with it in general.

You would be surprised that if you will outline the quality difference to your customer … many times he will see your point and come down on your side.

Good selling…

ANSI Standards – Does the board you are selling comply????

 

15,000# ANSI Approved Dockboard

  

Last month I wrote an article on the new ANSI standard for dock boards and dock plates.  Our plant manager, John Key, sent me a “hard copy” article titled “Are ANSI Standards Really Voluntary?”. 

The article out of Occupational Hazards ( http://www.occupationalhazards.com/ ) points out that many of the ANSI standards have become the OSHA regulation.  Two quotes from that article caught my attention.

  • “It is very common to see a purchaser of equipment, raw material, fasteners or just about any conceivable item reference that it must meet a particular ANSI standard for the buyer’s acceptance process.”
  • “ANSI will furnish assistance and support and continue to encourage the development of national consensus standards for occupational safety and health issues for the use of OSHA and others ……. OSHA’s regulatory process will continue to have an impact, and a strong influence, on whether ANSI safety-related consensus standards remain truly “voluntary”.”

To read the entire article click here.

Buying decisions are made for one of five reasons…Reason #1 Price

You know there is no getting away from the fact that we are the solution to our own problems.  Having been in sales for longer than some of you have been alive, I have blamed everything and everyone for poor sales results.  In truth, in the material handling business, I have always had all the tools I needed for success.  I am only now learning how to apply them properly.

The term “value-added” has only recently been added to the business lexicon.  The fact is that it has always been at the top of the reasons that we do business with one person or company over another.  Value, whether real or perceived is what we all seek in transactions. To spend less money or to receive more for the same expenditure drives most transactions.  However, price is only one of five reasons that people make buying decisions.

There are people who make their choice exclusively based on price.  They generally assume that all product is equal in quality or lack there of.  That any deficiency is more than offset by the money they saved.  The value-added truth is that some functional difference in product can more than pay for themselves and there is a “base-price” to get enough built-in quality to be safe.  Safety is a HUGE value.  Sometime these people can only be persuaded after their bad judgemnt has cost their company in actual losses or unfulfilled potential. Companies that buy exclusively on price find themselves constantly working with cheap goods and bad tools.  Employees of that company will gauge their value by the tools they are asked to work with and both the company and employee will be locked in mediocrity, or worse.

There is a “place” called value and it is our job to become expert in finding that value and bringing it to our customers attention.  IT IS THE ONLY REASON THEY NEED US.  We need to know that price is only one of five reasons to buy.

More on the other four after this word from our sponsor…Bluff Manufacturing