by Jacques Werth
I was head of sales and marketing for a company that provided production equipment to the electronics industry when I fired our sales representative for the upper Midwest. I hired a young man named Ben as his replacement, and we brought him to the home office near Philadelphia for two weeks of product training.
A few weeks later Ben called to say that one of the largest manufacturers of radar detectors was interested in one of our production machines. The prospect would probably buy several more machines if the first one worked to their satisfaction. The prospect was also looking at two of our competitors’ machines.
Ben made a sales call to see their VP of Production, and he had one of our demo machines in his van.
A few days later, Ben called me to say that the prospect had decided to buy one of our competitor’s machines instead. I asked him why? Ben said that he didn’t know the reason. I asked Ben if the prospect had actually tried out the demo machine. He said. “No, we only went over the written specifications, which I left with him.”
I said, “Ben, I want you to call the VP and tell him that you are on the way to his plant to set up and run your demo machine. That way, he can see how it works compared to what he has decided to buy.”
Ben said, “That’s over 160 miles from me. It doesn’t make much sense if he’s already decided on a competitor’s machine.”
I said, “Ben, just make the call and let me know what he says.”
A couple of hours later, Ben called back and said the VP wanted him to bring the demo machine the following Monday.
I told Ben that we would have one of our field technicians fly into an airport near the prospect’s plant on Monday morning, and Ben should pick him up. Then, the techie would set up the demo machine properly and train the prospect’s people, and Ben, how to use it.
About two weeks later Ben called me to say that the prospect wanted to buy the demo machine and a second one just like it. Ben wanted to know whether he had to go all the way back to the customer’s plant to set up the second machine.
I said, “What do you want to do?”
Ben said, “Well we have a lot more equipment that they could probably use. But, it’s a long trip.”
I said, “It’s up to you.”
Ben made that trip and several more. By the end of the year that manufacturer was one of our top ten customers, and Ben was one of our top three salespeople.