Sales down? Not if you are “Lucky”

… From the archives, but worth another read:

At one of our recent meetings I asked Lucky, “So, how do you do it?” His answer was brief: great products, great team and proper networking. That was a good start, but I definitely wanted to hear more.

Lucky is a networker, a hard worker and a tremendous rainmaker. He is the Division Manager for M.C. Dean and has a great message for all of us. So, a more detailed version of his answer – written in his own words – can be found below…

Three secrets to my Success

Ok so here it is! I keep having people ask me about my success in marketing for M.C. Dean, especially when you consider the state of the current economy. While I remain modest about the success I have had, the numbers are quite impressive.

2009 – 60% increase in revenue and a 38% cut in costs
2010 (to date) – 72% increase in revenue and a 17% cut in costs

When you consider that we operate in the construction industry, which parallels the real-estate industry, it adds even more of a wow factor. Nobody needs to be told the current state of the real-estate market in Florida and the construction trade, for those who are not directly connected to it, it has followed the same market decline trend over the past several years. So, for those who are not familiar with the construction industry, think of it this way. If a realtor increased the number of home sales by 103% over these past couple of years, considering the current market, that would be a comparable feat. Seems impossible right? Well luckily, that has been the growth I have experienced.

So the question is how do you do this? Well I don’t have a definitive answer or a simple action to reproduce these results across the board; I can share the following insights to why I think I have achieved these results throughout these tough times.

Product

M.C. Dean offers a product that is truly second to none. It makes my life easy when the product sells itself. Due to our commitment to quality and the customer, M.C. Dean truly sets itself apart from the competition. We offer such a large, diverse set of services, that our customers find value in bundling services together. We offer the same bundling options on the billing side as well. This reduces many administrative costs to our customers reducing the amount of invoices, checks, mailing, etc… It also reduces the frustration level of our customers having to coordinate several vendors to multiple projects that are connected to one discipline. When you take into account the savings coupled with the superior service and quality you can begin to understand why my job is such an easy one.

Team

While I may be the one who is seen as the rainmaker, it is truly a team effort. Without the support of the best account managers and service technicians in the industry, I couldn’t service the accounts that I bring in. M.C. Dean Florida has a unified vision of providing our customers with the Ultimate Customer Experience, and will put the customer’s needs ahead of profits to ensure their satisfaction.

At the beginning of each year I review with my team the yearly goals. We go over new customer targets, revenue targets, and expected margins. We break these down into weekly increments and measure our success at our weekly staff meetings making adjustments as necessary. This keeps all team members apprised of each player’s performance, and allows us to help each other understand what is happening in the trenches. It also keeps us all focused on our goals and holds each individual, as well as the team, accountable for our overall performance. I believe that this is a required step if you want to be successful in any effort that requires a team. The whole team must understand the goal, the rules, the rewards and the consequences. If these are not clear to your team then how can you expect them to perform?

Networking

While networking is nothing new, the way that networking works has changed a bit. With the depressed times everyone is getting a crazy amount of cold calls, drop-ins, emails and every other sales tactic known to the industry. It is getting harder and harder to get in front of people or to even have a chance to sell something. Networking has always been a more effective way to sell through referrals. However, with the overwhelming amount of people asking for referrals, customers are less interested in meeting with new vendors, even if they did come through a referral.

The changes I have made in my networking strategies are based on the “less is more” philosophy. I have tried to narrow down the amount of networking partners I work with and focus more on helping their business. I look at it this way. If I limit the number of partners I bring in and we all agree to work together to build relationships for each other, the following results can be expected. You will not overwhelm your current customers with recommendations and referrals, and you will have a whole sales force working for your business development effort.

I try to set aside one day a month where I work for my networking partners. I spend the day as a sales person for them reaching out to my current customers. I do this with an agreement that they will do the same for me and the ball starts rolling. Think about it. If you commit to spend one day working for your networking groups BD efforts rather than your own, and you get them to commit to the same strategy, you will have an increased amount BD effort for your company. You will only be spending 1 day working on BD efforts for others, but you will have 25 others working on your BD efforts for one day. That coupled with the fact that they are referrals, increases the possibility of landing more customers.

The key to successful collaborative networking is to make sure that you can trust the partners you are aligning yourself with. You need to know that you can count on them to treat your customers the same way you would treat them. This is imperative. If your customers don’t believe that you care about them and that you are referring someone to help the customer not the person being referred, then your referral will not hold any weight and the customer will stop accepting referrals from you. You need a commitment from your networking partners that they will treat your customers the same way you do. If you are not confident with their commitment then you should move on to another partner.

There are too many “professional networkers” out there that don’t understand the importance of a customer. Their idea is to get as many people in their networking group as possible and just open up their contact files to the group. I disapprove of this process and hate the term “professional networker”. The idea of just referring someone to your customers without knowing who they are or their capabilities and strengths, undermines the relationship you have built with that customer. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I believe that a customer should be treated as a valued business partner. Your job as a vendor is to help them be a stronger company and more competitive. You need to always keep their best interests at heart and never roll them for profit. These may be old fashioned ideas but they are the principles I run my business on and I believe it has contributed to my success.

Well there you have it! I believe that this article covers the main reasons I have found success in such trying times. I hope you find value in this article, but if not….You asked for it!

# # #

Glen “Lucky” Drake is the Division Manager for M.C. Dean, and he can be reached at
(813) 882-3077 or glen.drake@mcdean.com

M.C. Dean, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier engineering and integration providers for complex electrical, electronic, and telecommunication systems.

2 Responses to “Sales down? Not if you are “Lucky””

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