Purchasing Department Gift That Worked!

A year ago I was working with a company where a salesperson was able to secure a new customer after having called them repeatedly on the telephone for nearly a year.  Your sales motivation will take a positive leap when you learn from this story:

To show appreciation to the new customer, the salesperson sent a package of gourmet cookies.   Two days later the salesperson telephoned the buyer to ask how they enjoyed the cookies. The buyer immediately begin laughing about how the one dozen gourmet cookies didn’t go too far considering there were nearly 200 people in the office.   The manner in which the buyer responded with a laugh provided the salesperson an opportunity to have a casual discussion with the customer.

Following up on the conversation, the salesperson decided it would be appropriate to send a gift all 200 people could enjoy. However, sending gourmet cookies for 200 people would be cost prohibitive for this company, and more importantly, it would send the wrong signal to the new customer.

We brainstormed and decided to send the buyer a 2-pound bag of peanut M&Ms with a note that there would be exactly 1.23 M&Ms per person.   We knew this would be risky, but knew also that if we were going to break through with the customer and get them do more business with us versus our competitor, we had to be willing to take risks.  

Even before the salesperson could call the customer to ask them about the gift of M&Ms, the customer called the salesperson laughing hysterically in the phone as to how funny the gift was.   What then ensued was a great conversation between the buyer and the salesperson, which ultimately resulted in a significant amount of business eventually taking place.

The best part of all is the salesperson was able to become a preferred vendor with the customer. This was not based off offering a lower price, but rather by creating the business relationship with the buyer and being willing to take risks.

I love sharing this story for a couple of reasons.  One is that it’s OK to think outside the box and, in fact, there are big wins for thinking outside the box.  Second is that personalities do make a difference and  many times by using your personality, you can create relationships that equal profitable business.  Third reason is simple — sometimes you don’t need a complex solution to build a business. Many times success comes from just doing simple things.  And the final reason I like this situation is it demonstrates the importance of being willing to take a risk.

Copyright 2010, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.”  Sales Motivation Blog.

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