And the Sale After That …

businessman salesman walking door

Whenever you meet with your financial planner, and they discuss investments like mutual funds, one of the standard cover-their-ass sentences you see in the printed materials is “past returns do not predict future performance.” That’s true of many things. What was once Hot often becomes Not, and occasionally vice versa.

So, I had a meeting with one of my dealers recently. They’ve always been a smaller customer. Which is fine; every customer matters, big or small. It would be great if everyone was my biggest customer, but that’s hardly realistic.
Going into this meeting, my intention was to get updated on how they’re doing and look for ways to help them grow.
As it happens, the owner of the company had a surprise for me.

Up to this point, their biggest challenge to growth was their personnel. The owner has other companies that need his attention too and has struggled with hiring and retaining, not even high performers, but adequate performers. The surprise was that he’d hired a new general manager. A “Hired Gun” who’s taking responsibility for growing their business.

And it was a pleasant surprise: I know this guy and have known him for years. He’s a high performer: He knows how to run a company and, more importantly, how to sell. Over the course of our meeting, my estimation of their growth potential ratcheted up several notches. Following up on our meeting, I was taking care of some of the deliverables I had promised, including asking for approval for some marketing assets for them. That’s when I got some pushback from my office: “Why are we doing this for such a small customer?”

So, I had to sell my office on my vision for my customer’s future. I explained the situation and the new general manager on the job. I explained how with him in charge they’re basically a new company/new customer at this point.
I may have even paraphrased “past returns do not predict future performance.”

As we went back and forth by email on this, I wasn’t making a lot of progress. Then I got a purchase order from my dealer. It was about 50% of what they had ordered from me for all of 2022. On one order. In January 2023.

That was what I needed to break the deadlock and get my marketing resources approved.

It’s never just the one sale: it’s the sale after that, and the one after that. And just because someone has only bought a little from you in the past doesn’t mean that one day they’ll be in a position to buy a lot more. You’ve always got to leave room for that possibility.