I was recently talking with an account manager responsible for breaking into a large fast food chain. He could have brought in his PowerPoint slide deck riddled with company statistics, product offerings, roadmaps, and perhaps a list of customers currently using his product. If he had, he would have looked just like everyone else calling on that account. Instead, he did the unthinkable…
Reaching out to the local fast food franchise, he explained his role as an account manager to the local store manager and offered to come down to their location and work for free. His assigned task the first morning of work was to help unload the eighteen-wheeler that shows up around 6:00 AM every morning. It took about an hour to unload that truck, along with half of the people working at the restaurant. But look what happened.
After working there for a couple of weeks, this rep was able to compile a compelling list of operational inefficiencies, from which he laid out a roadmap for improvement. Calling the headquarters was now an easy task, armed with all kinds of data and recommendations that could turn around any fast food restaurant. He had best seller material in hand. He requested a short 20 minute meeting, citing his observations of cars leaving the restaurant simply because the truck was in the way. He offered software and hardware solutions that would turn this truck around in about 15 minutes, freeing up parking space, making it easier to get in and out of the lot, and freeing up an army of people to go serve customers! This is what executives want to hear, and this led to a multi-million dollar sale that put him ahead of quota after one short 20 minute meeting. What are you doing for your customers?
True operational efficiency can be easily shown if certain criteria exist. First, you absolutely need to be in touch with you customer’s business, and second, your offering has to affect the business process in an undeniable way. Business opportunities can be created when both of these are true, as long as you can get an audience with someone who cares. Armed with the right message, this is not difficult.
© 2011, David Stelzl