Monday, May 11, 2009
I do some of my best 'out loud' thinking in the car with Mark (my hubby), although sometimes, I must admit, I look pretty crazy, 'out loud' thinking in the car all alone! Anyway, on Friday, as we were driving to FedEx to drop off some last-minute orders, a discussion arose regarding some of our past vendors. Have you ever made a statement and then realized how right you were? Well, I had one of those moments...I turned to Mark and said "I think in order to think outside-the-box, you have to live outside-the-box." Then, I realized how true that statement really is. We pride ourselves on good customer service, but in order to provide that service, rarely can I follow the 'rules'. I often find myself driving Express orders to the post office because someone missed our order deadline, but desperately wants bloomers for pictures they have scheduled. Other times I have had products rush shipped from our factory in India for a customer that had her heart set on a particular style for a particular event (at our expense). I have literally driven to a customers house to exchange out a product and have personally sat on the phone for hours trying to track down packages delayed with USPS, even though they are completely out of my control. I am not patting myself on the back by any means, all of these things are expected, or at least I expect them.
You have a choice, you can be as successful as the industry standard, and if you are okay with this level of success, then that is your option. If you are someone not okay with this mid-level success, then you must think outside-the-box. You must rise above the rest, do things differently, not follow the rules, and leave your customers raving about how "different" you are from everyone else!
I'm sure I will, quite honestly, raise the ire a few sales reps with this statement, but in my opinion, the industry standard is no longer the best way to sell products. I think giving exclusivity of an entire chunk of the country to a sales rep that has never sold your products and has yet to turn in a single order is crazy. I also think sending them thousands of dollars in samples and paying monthly showroom fees without any sales requirement / minimum is crazy as well. I was in real estate sales, and if someone offered to give me all of North Carolina real estate transactions, no matter how many (or few) that I completed, and pay me monthly, regardless of how many homes I sold, I would 1st look at them like they are crazy, and 2nd, sign on the dotted line! Does this sound a bit ridiculous to anyone else? Don't get me wrong here...I am all about rewarding someone for a job well-done and paying them fairly for the hard work that they accomplish. That's why I love commissions! It is very black and white, you sell, you get paid. As my husband always tells his sales staff, and as holds true in the wilderness, "You eat what you kill". Who's going to provide better service and do a better job, someone who's hungry or someone who's sitting at a free lunch buffet?
Okay, so I'm an Entrepreneur. We are a bit of a rare breed and probably have a harder time following the rules than most. Sometimes I should probably do a better job of that, but for now, I strive daily to think outside-the box, and most importantly to live outside-the-box!