Sales people have you ever heard of Google?

Business decision makers are busy people.  The day to day tasks of owning and operating a business are tough and most people never get the chance to experience this type of life.  Which brings me to my “rant” about sales people.  I’m a sales person and always have been.  In my days of selling advertising I’m sure I did my fair share to bug my clients, but I’m pretty confident it wasn’t due to not doing the obvious.  Every week I deal with reps from every advertising medium that exists.  Online ads, radio, tv, magazines, new apps, etc.  I handle 100+ inquiries per week on behalf of my clients.  Some people don’t like this, but I don’t mind it.  My clients are paying me to find every opportunity possible to drive sales and profits.

The bad part of this is dealing with the bad and lazy sales reps.  This blog is being written for 1 reason, STOP ASKING ME & MY CLIENTS FOR THEIR BASIC INFORMATION!  A week doesn’t go by that a rep doesn’t ask me for a clients website, phone number or address.  I don’t care about giving this to them, but when I sold this wasn’t a question I ever asked.  WHY?  It’s this little thing called THE INTERNET.  As sales people your job is to handle as much of the work as you can for your clients.  When you close a deal all you really need to do is get a signature and form of payment.  It doesn’t bother me that I need to type out my clients info and send it to them, that’s obliviously pretty easy.  It bothers me that they don’t do this on their own.  This is such a minor point in their sales process that it makes me wonder what else they are missing.  Do I have to hold their hand through every step of our business relationship, I hope not.  So in closing, sales people, make the process simpler for your clients.  It’s hard enough to close deals, the paperwork should be the easy part for the client.

Rant over 🙂  


I had a conversation last week with a professional sales person that I thought I’d never have in 2015.   We were talking about creating a marketing campaign to inform his date-base about the new business he just launched.  I asked about the size of his database to which he said “what data-base?”   During the next 5 minutes I came to find out that he had no info gathered on the people he had been selling to or calling on for the past 25 years.  

To put this in perspective, I have 3,000 people in my database.  I have the contact info of every customer/prospect since 1999.  I knew when I started in radio advertising on March 13th 1999 that the key to my success was creating a strong customer list and maintaining it.  I knew that without this I’d be recreating myself and starting from scratch everywhere I went. I guess I’m naive in thinking that others think the same way.  It truly saddens me to think that sales people waste so much time due to their lack of planning for the future.  I remember the days of our “1 Day Sales” when I was selling radio advertising.  Our bosses would announce that in 1 week we were having a sale and on the morning of the sale they would give us the special that was only available on that day.   I would watch as all the other sales people would scramble running all over town for 5 days to line up prospects for this sale.  I’d create an email/fax and mass send it to my clients/prospects(with a personal touch of course).  I’d then followup with them via phone calls that day and line up my hot prospects.  I’d accomplish in 1 day what my colleagues did in 5.  On the day of the sale I’d blast out the offer to my clients and by 10am I was the #1 rep in the office while the other reps pounded the phone 1 call at a time all day.  EVERY YEAR I was the #1 rep in the “1 Day Sales”.  Why?  Because of my customer date-base I kept in ACT.  Another bi-product of this effort was I never messed with my other sales activities.  While the other sales people were spending 5 days preparing for the sale, I was spending 1, which meant I never skipped a beat on the other parts of our business.

Without a working database as a sales person,  you are basically traveling across the country in a car with a broken gas gauge and no GPS.  You may reach your destination,  but it’s going to be a rough trip as compared to the alternative.

SO, in closing, if you’re someone who fits into this category START A LIST!  I don’t care if you’re 25 or 65, if you don’t start building your own radio station today, then you are setting yourself up to fail tomorrow.


It's A Customer Service Tool 1st, Sales Machine 2nd

Most small businesses and honestly “marketing experts” have not figured out the main reason you should be active and monitoring your Social Media platforms.  I’ve always stated (and believed) the top reason to use Social Media is for SEO and branding.  Secondarily as a great way to market your business on your own advertising medium.  I believed that until a light bulb turned on this summer.  Yes, Social Media still plays an integral part in your SEO and can be your own “radio station” but it’s now taking a backseat CUSTOMER SUPPORT.  Yes, Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new 1-800 where your customers turn for answers and issues.  

We manage a few hundred Social Media pages for businesses in the Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky area. Most of these businesses are retail / restaurants.  Most days I find myself answering posts about something that went wrong with their visit to the business or questions that would have been a phone call in the past.  The vast majority are courteous and professional and just looking for a prompt reponse.  I can’t tell you how many respond back that they’re surprised someone from the business actually responded and in a timely manner.   This is not only a great opportunity to fix this issue, but it’s also a great chance to show other customers that you stand behind your product and service.  Our goal is to respond within an hour, and I can tell you this has helped sell products and fix a mad customer in the clients showrooms MANY TIMES.  

On Facebook, most companies I come across in these situations either don’t respond or delete the post.  This is a TERRIBLE IDEA!  If you’re not going to respond, DELETE your page and get off that Social Media Site.  There are certain situations where deleting is the only answer, vulgarity, competitors, spam, etc.  But if it’s a valid question or concern, FIX IT!  Not responding is like hanging up the phone on a customer that calls to complain.  Deleting the post just makes that customer angrier and will not only lead to other posts on your page and their personal account, but it will lose your company a customer.  

I’ve also found that many companies don’t respond to private messages very well.  I try to use Facebook in the same manner my clients customers do.  So when I’m in need of information that I know I can easily get with a phone call I instead turn to Facebook.  I want to see what my client’s competitors are doing and see how we stack up.  Recently I was in need about the prices and packages of the WEBN Fireworks deals Newport restaurants were offering.  I sent a private message to 6 places.  1 got back to me the next day, then another 2 days later and the other 4 never responded.  The worst part was when we made follow-up phone calls to ask about their deals, most had no clue or very little information, but that’s an entirely different blog post 🙂

Even funnier was my message to Lee’s Chicken recently.  I had went there with a coupon and when I arrived their prices were lower on their menu than the coupon.  Wanting to see how they’d respond and let them know of this issue (like I’d hope a customer would point out to one of my clients), I sent a private message to their Facebook page.  1 month later  TO THE DAY I get a response asking for more details.  Seriously, 1 month???  Businesses need to start treating Social Media messages just like their phone or front door.  Would you not answer your phone for a month?  Would you keep your clients locked out of your store for a month?  Of course not, then why do it online? 

LONG STORY SHORT, if you want to survive and retain TODAY’S consumers then you better start paying attention to your customers questions and concerns online.

December Seminar..Don't Miss This One!

Learn 5 Keys To Google SEO, Social Media, Branding Your Business and Email Marketing

Now more than ever YOU can make a larger impact on your company’s marketing efforts.  Not too long ago you were forced to find your customers and prospects through expensive mass media like Newspaper, Yellow Pages and TV.

Now you can create your own Radio Station!  Yes, you can OWN your own radio station.  Through the online tools available today you can use your Website, Email & Social Media to own the marketing medium.  By having your own means of getting the word out you’re able to market your company more, spend less and MAKE MORE PROFIT!

BUT, you need a compelling value proposition, a well branded company, a strategic plan and more importantly attainable goals to help you reach your maximum potential.

This 4-Hour seminar will help you create a plan for 2013 that will put you on the path to OWNING your own radio station!  Through 4 sessions, you’ll not only find out what it takes to do this, but you’ll leave with 5 goals -IN WRITING – for each topic.

These three local marketing and sales experts with a combined 100+ years of experience will make it easy to improve your marketing with actionable information on these important topics.

  • Matt Plapp of Driven Media Solutions
  • Kirk Carter of Web4Marketing
  • Duane Plapp of Total Revenue Coaching

Get Found! Your road map to Google and other search engines

  • The importance of Google + Local (AKA Google Places)
  • Create PERFECT pages for your website
  • Keyword Research
  • Link Building
  • Driving qualified traffic through Google AdWords

Start Building Your Radio Station

  • Properly creating your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn & YouTube
  • What, When & Why…Creating a daily/weekly posting schedule
  • Your reach and how to grow it
  • Goals, where are you now and where should you be by 2014
  • Understanding some of the features on Facebook & LinkedIn

Create A Lasting Brand…Becoming Relavant To Your Customers

  • Finding your target market
  • Massage your message
  • Identifying your #1 way to increase sales..THROUGH YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS!  Creating brand ambassadors.
  • Developing the right relationships
  • Creating and keeping your image

What’s Free, Something Everyone Has With Them 99% Of The Time & Is A Great Way To Advertise Your Company…EMAIL MARKETING

  • Creating and building your list
  • Understanding how to get your emails open, read and acted on.
  • Making email your #1 marketing tool
  • When to send
  • Branding and NOT Spamming


What if you left your current job?

Matt Plapp Family Picture
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

I remember back in the late 90’s when everyone was amazed that I had my sales contacts so organized.  I’m not sure what got me doing this, but I had every company and client in ACT ( a computer contact software).  I had their spouse’s name, their birthday, the last time we talked, etc.  I used this to help me stay organized, but also for one other REALLY important reason…CONTACT INFO.

Since the first day I got into sales I knew that I had to create my own following and if I was going to work my butt off I wanted to have a great account list 5, 10 or 15 years down the road.  I knew that if  I was going to cold call early in my career like I had to, that I wanted to be able to have some great relationships down the road.  So I kept great records with all of my customers names and info.

Flash forward to 2012.  One of the BIGGEST issues that drives me crazy is seeing professional sales people not use Facebook and LinkedIn correctly.  It’s amazing how easy it is to create, upadate and connect with everyone on Social Media and Email.  Social Media allows you to get a better look at your client’s life and for them to see another side of you.

BUT…it also holds the key to my question “What If You Left Your Current Job?”   Are you prepared if you were to change careers?  If next week you had to leave your current position and start over on your own or at a competitor, would you have a way to communicate this with your past customers?  I’ve been in this situation before and I can tell you the transition was so smooth it was amazing.  It was easy to get the word out, easy to prime my contacts for the upcoming change and most importantly, easy to start my new path.

Recently a guy that I know made this transition pretty well, and he was able to avoid few hitches due to his past use of Social Media.  He recently left his job and started his own company.  Not to cause any issues he did not solicit any of his former customers during his employment or after his departure.  But, he was able to “inform” them without crossing any boundaries and in turn is starting his business off on the right foot.  What do I mean by this?  He was using Facebook to communicate with his clients, interacting daily with them and participating in their lives online.  The relationships grew stronger and when he left his job he was able to update them very easily with posts on his personal Facebook page.  Many sales people have non-completes or contracts that do not allow them to contact customers from their prior job.  But, that rule doesn’t apply for them coming to you.  So by using social media long before this change, he was able to transition really easily and it’s not surprising to me that many of his clients followed him to his new place of business.

That’s the beauty of it.  Your friends and family are buying what you are selling, but are you TELLING them in a professional manner what you’re selling?  In this example it was more than that.  He didn’t want to cross a line by soliciting former clients.  But since they were connected on Facebook and other social media sites, it was easy to keep them in the loop and at the end of the day start a new business with a great foundation.

So my question for you is…What would you do if you left your current job?  Do you have the ability to pick up where you left off without having to call or see everyone you sold to in the past in person?  Or could you do this with the click of a button?


Matt Plapp Family Picture
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

Recently I was pursued by an aggressive sales person from a Cincinnati media company. Their products are good and they’re a decent fit for my client, problem is they’re TOO LATE.  I informed her the budget was pretty much spent for 2012 and there were limited opportunities.  I told her there was a chance that aprox $5,000 was open for a 1-time promotion for the fall.   So after a handful of phone calls and persistance on her part I agreed to meet with her to see this idea “that was a perfect fit for my client” within the parameters that I told her, remember the $5,000 budget.

We get together and she’s going through the promotion which is OK, but a lot more than I would expect for $5,000.  After about 25 minutes of reviewing all the aspects I knew there was no way she stayed within the budget.  But I thought, was it $10,000?  Maybe $15,000?  Nope, $40,000.  WHAT!  Why in the world would you waste your time putting this together, waste my time showing me this and ruin your creditably over 1 proposal.  This is the reason that clients hire consultants and ad agencies like me, to avoid situations like this where they get all excited over something only to be let down because the sales person does not listen, or worse, listens only to their commission check.

As a  young radio sales rep for WGRR in the late 90’s I remember asking my sales manager, Kim Wiest, why I had never had one of these “hard closes” you read about in sales books.  I never had to ask the hard questions like “if we can do that will you buy it”, etc.  It seemed like the vast majority of my proposals went really smooth and at the end all the minor yeses I received built to a really easy close.  I thought there was something wrong, but there wasn’t.  Kim did such a good job of training her sales staff to ask the right questions and wait…..TO LISTEN.  By asking the right questions and listening it was easy when it came time to present a proposal to a client.  It was exactly what they asked for and within the parameters they laid out.  After a few years I not only realized the importance of this with regards to closing deals, but I also realized the impact it had on my reputation.  I never wanted to sell something to a client to hit a budget, or get a commission check.  I wanted to sell something to a client because it was what they wanted, needed and would drive their sales and profits.

So it’s situations like this that drive me crazy and make sales reps look really bad.  Do a proper needs analysis, listen to your client and bring them ideas that meet their needs and budgets.  AND more importantly, don’t be afraid to not sell them something.  Don’t be afraid to tell them no, that you don’t have anything that fits their needs.  When you can do this, you’ve arrived as a consultant, and not just another sales rep cold calling anyone with a sign outside.

I hope your emails stop, or your phone dies

Brennan Scanlon - Executive Director BNI Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky
Brennan Scanlon - Executive Director BNI Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky

If constantly flowing water can erode rock and create the Grand Canyon, then imagine what constantly flowing emails can do to you.

I was in Baltimore for a speaking engagement recently. I decided to stay a couple of extra days, rented a car, and traveled with my wife to Washington DC. I had never been. The morning we left, I noticed that my emails were no longer coming to my Blackberry. I called Kathie at my office, she stated that my email server was at capacity and she needed to back up and empty my trash folder. “Might take a little while”, she said. Like Linus reluctant to let go of his blanket, I went on with my day. Out of touch.

While in Washington we went to the White House. We went to the Lincoln Memorial. Then, we found ourselves at the Vietnam Memorial. I walked slowly along looking at all the names on the great wall. Every three steps I took represented another thousand men who died for our nation. We then made our way to the World War II Memorial. It took me at least 40 minutes to make my way around. I read stories of heroism, and quotes from Truman and Roosevelt. After an afternoon of honoring all those men and women who gave their lives so that I can live the life I enjoy, I reached into my pocket. I pulled out my phone, and still no emails.

I hope your emails stop, or your phone dies. At least temporarily. Mine did, and for those few hours, it was the best thing that happened to me in a long time. Vision, perspective, and inspiration can only come when your mind is clear from distraction. Later that evening, my emails came in. There were 72. Half were junk, and the rest I returned in the 30 minutes.

On any other day, I would have been thumbing through my phone. With each scroll and click, I would has stepped past another quote and another soldier not being revered or remembered. The tempo of life is at a new, unsurpassed pace. Information flows faster than ever. However, the information can be too much to absorb, and too easy to send. We are becoming victims of our own technology, and unless we learn how to manage it, it will overtake us. The world is changing. Don’t let it change you from being some who can stop, turn off, and pay attention to what truly matters.

Brennan Scanlon is a Referral Institute Franchise owner as well as an Executive Director for BNI, Business Network Int’l ( SW Ohio & No. KY Region. He has been ranked in the Top 10% of BNI Directors nationally for the last two consecutive years, this ranking resulting in performance reviews submitted by BNI members.  Most recently, Brennan has been inducted into BNI’s Founder’s Circle 2008-2009 as nominated by his peers and approved by BNI’s Founder, Dr. Ivan Misner.

How Much Are You Risking To Theft?

I recently attended a  fraud prevention seminar at The Cintas Center hosted by US Bank.  The speaker was  Frank Abagnale (the movie “Catch Me If You Can” was based of his life) and he was great.  It was eye opening to hear how much money is stolen every year from consumers and small businesses.  In fact, most of the theft within small businesses is from an employee that you’d never expect.  I’ve not taken this many notes at an event in a long time and I’m going to be putting up some of his links and suggestions.   Below you’ll find my top 10 take-aways from this event, and I’ll warn you, you’re probably not doing ANY OF THESE.  He had every business owner in attendance wondering if they had money missing.

Frank -AbagnaleThe 1 word you’ll hear throughout this is “Opportunity”.  Frank says that is the biggest reason for theft.

1.  Bank Statements – Have ALL company bank statements mailed to your home.  WHY, because this takes away the Opportunity for your accounting department to alter the statements and hide something they may be doing behind your back.  In fact, this is a major issue with many small businesses.  An underpaid accounting clerk thinks they are owed something, are they taking it from you?

2.  If they steal, or should I say WHEN they steal from you – There is 1 branch of the US Government that no one wants calling them, the IRS.  Many times it’s hard to prosecute a theft by an employee or vendor.  If all else fails and you can’t get your money back, send them a 1099.  Take the write-0ff and let the IRS deal with them.  Frank said that this threat alone will have them calling to arrange a payment plan.

3.  Fake Money – Most employees don’t know how to recognize fake money.  PH pens don’t work all the time and can easily be tricked.   If you are in a cash business, your cashier should have a magnifying glass and know what to look for on the different bills.  For example, the $100 bill has “United States of America” on Benjamin Franklin’s jacket.  You would only see this detail with a magnifying glass.  This is just 1 of many items that fake bills won’t have.

4.  Shredders – You should be shredding EVERYTHING, but only with the Micro Shredders.  The most popular Strip Cut and Cross Cut shredders are easily put back together.  In his presentation Frank showed how the FBI pieced together numerous garbage bags on shredded documents to find out exactly what they needed to know.  With Micro Shredders, it”s impossible.

5. Your Checks – I was amazed at how easy it was for a check to be changed.  He took a check that had just been printed with a ink jet printer (what he said is commonly used).  He applied a piece of scotch tape and put it over the payee and with a few presses, it lifted off the payee, which he then entered his name.  He talked about how this happened to a national magazine that ended up printing a story on check fraud because of this.  They sent a subscriber a refund check of $33.33.  Someone took that check and forged it to a different person for $333,000.33.  It worked, the guy was off with the cash 4 days later and the magazine didn’t catch it until the next month.  There is only 1 check that is FRAUD PROOF, it’s Abagnale Super Business Check, it’s a must see.

6. Your Pen – Yes your pen that you sign checks with.  The ONLY pen (according to Frank) that is permanent is the Black Uni-Ball 207 Gel.  Believe it or not this inexpensive pen found at any office supply store is the only pen will leave the ink on permanently.  No chemical wash or scotch tape trick will take it off.

7. Positive Pay – This is a system that banks Cash Management Departments have that allows you to send them a file each day with the checks written that day (must be done before checks are cashed).  When the checks are presented for processing, it automatically matches the information you supplied.  It compares the account number, the check number, dollar amount and sometimes the payee name on the check.  If all components don’t match exactly it becomes an “exception item.”  The bank then contacts the customer to determine each exception item’s authenticity.  If there is an issue and something fraudulent is exposed then the check is returned unpaid.

8. Wire Transfers – This is one of the easiest ways to lose a LOT OF MONEY.  Wire instructions contain all the information necessary to draft against a bank account.  To avoid this scam, set up a separate account that is used exclusively for incoming credits.  Place the account on “no check activity” and make it a “Zero Balance Account” (ZBA).  This will save you from any major headaches.

9. Copy Machine Hard Drives – Most copy machines have a hard drive that stores EVERY IMAGE that you’ve ever copied.  If  you ever get rid of your machine you want to remove the hard drive.  Frank talked about a time when they went to random dealer of used machines and pulled the hard drive from a few machines and they found many items that these companies would not have wanted in the wrong hands.

10. Know Who To Look For – More than 80% of occupational fraud cases, and 95% of their resulting losses, come from six departments:  accounting, operations, upper management, sales, customer service, and purchasing.  Two-thirds are male and they cause twice as many losses as females.  More than half of all cases are committed by people 31-to-45, but the greatest losses come from 60+ upper management.   86% of perpetrators were first-time offenders making background checks less effective.  What this also means is that you probably have what you think is a good relationship with this person.  This is why you have your bank statements mailed to your home.

If you get a chance visit Franks website,  And i you ever get invited to hear him speak I highly recommend you attend.

Are You Giving?

Andrea-Whitley-Genuine-expressions-online-gift-basketsWith 4th quarter fast approaching it is time to consider your client and employees. Now is the time to say Thank You; Thank you for your business through these tough times, for your hard work; thank you for the referrals, and thank you for your continued support.

Giving a gift in the business world has become a tradition over the last few years. A few points to consider

• With the tough economic times we are facing, you may be thinking that maybe this year, I will not give a gift. If you have given gifts in the past, continue to do so. If you need to scale back on the cost, that is understandable but not sending any gift without any explanation may lead to hurt feelings.

• Consider a budget and stick to it. Plan ahead and talk to someone in the profession who can give you price quotes on small, medium and large orders. Also, order early! Many companies give discounts if you order your holiday gifts in advance.

• Know your customers! What are their likes and dislikes? Personal interests? Make the gifts personalized if possible with company colors, personalized card or labels and items they will enjoy.

What office worker wouldn't love this!

• Are you going to include promotional items? When saying “thank you” to your clients and customers don’t overload a gift basket with pens, pencils, mugs, and note pads with your company logo. Just add one or maybe two items at most! Remember, this gift is to say Thank You.

• Is this gift for one person, 5 people or 10 people? Make sure the gift is the correct size.

Now that you have your clients/customer taken care of, now let’s focus on your employees. One great way to retain employees is to recognize and thank them for their hard work. It is important and sometimes forgotten. Businesses will remember their clients but sometimes forget their employees. They are the backbone of your company and deserve the recognition.

Listed below are some great gift ideas for clients, employees for even friend and family! Just remember that many companies are inundated with gifts the entire month of December. Giving a gift is a great idea but why not stand out from the crowd? The Holidays are a great time to send a gift but what about Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year?

You can say thank you with a gift for Fall that could include items such as hot chocolate, marshmallows, flavored coffees and teas, chocolate truffles and biscotti. Or you could send one with bread and soup mixes for those cool fall days. Who wouldn’t want a warm bowl of soup on a cool fall day?

Halloween is another time to send gifts:
• Candy baskets with ghouls and goblins or pumpkins and black cats. Each one overflowing with treats such as popcorn, Skittles, M & M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and more! If you are trying to stay healthy you can always sugar free and fat free snacks.

The Holidays, Winter or New Years, are always a great time to let someone know you are thinking of them.

• Snowflake boxes, Santa bags, stockings, winter baskets, gift boxes and more; all of these can be filled with winter treats from candy to coffee or summer sausage and cheese with crackers to peanut brittle and fudge or truffles.Holiday=Christmas_Greeting-holiday-company-employee-gift-baskets

For any of the gift ideas mentioned here, please allow Genuine Expressions to provide these gifts. We can do one to two baskets for a company or as many as 100+, all of which can be customized. Or you can order from our great selection on-line! Please visit If you would like to place a custom order or large quantity order call Andrea Whitey, owner, at 513-532-1494 or email

Are you building relationships?

Matt PlappHave you ever been sitting through a sales pitch and wondered what the other person is thinking about while the spew senseless product stats and talk your ear off?  Are you tired of losing sales and clients because of price?  Read below!

In my past life in the boat business I can think how this example played out to show the value of a relationship.  We purchased a small boat dealership that sold Mercury, Johnson, Evinrude and Yamaha outboard motors.  Mercury was 99% of their business and Yamaha was a very small part of the remaining 1%.  Within the first year we got to meet our reps from each company.  Our Yamaha rep, Terry, was new to the business and was a hustler.  Our Mercury rep was an industry veteran and thought his home office was where he should spend most of his time.  I’ve always been a big believer that you have to see your clients on your terms, not theirs.  Meaning, don’t think you’re doing your job when the only time you see them is when they make the effort (like attending a trade show).

Our Yamaha rep was by our store every 4-6 weeks.  He never negative sold, in fact, most of his visits were just to say hello and talk about life and family.  When he did talk about products it was to point out subtle differences and talk about their current promotions.  He went out of his way to become friends with all of our sales staff and took great care of them.  In fact, he realized that our sales people controlled what our customers bought more than anyone else.  The Mercury rep would have had a hard time naming 1 of our 7 sales people.  Long story short, within 2 years we were a top 10 dealer for Yamaha in the US.  They went from under 5 motors sold per year to over 170, while Mercury dropped off the map.

This change had nothing to do with the product, let’s face it, every company has a competitor that offers very similar products.  This came down to a relationship.

Flash forward to June 2011.  I was attending a franchise dealer meeting with a client in Las Vegas.  This meeting included break-out sessions with many of the manufacturers whose products are sold in their stores.  We attended around 6 of these sessions and I had a hard time not falling asleep…EXCEPT in 1.

The first 5 sessions were all the same, a sales rep standing in front of 100+ people puking product info.  In fact, most of them read from their product book/labels and told us EVERYTHING that we could care less about.  As a person who has sold many different products I understand what it takes to close deals.  It’s not talking about the compression of the cylinders, oil to gas ratio or every ingredient in a particular product.  Your customers want to know a little of this, but they mainly want to make sure your products or services have the benefits to live up to their expectation and that you will take great care of them.

THEN there was Pat.  Pat was a machine.  The 2 days before his presentation I watched him on the show floor.  EVERYONE knew him.  He had more hugs, high fives and screams of any booth/rep in the show.  This showed me his relationships were deeps.   He not only had 100+ people in the room, it was STANDING ROOM ONLY.  Afterwards I knew why.  Pat had the same 1 hour slot as everyone else.  But instead of spending 58 minutes on his products like the others, he spent maybe 5 minutes.  Instead of boring us with the product info he talked to his audience about what he knew would really help them:

1.  How to get customers in the stores.

2.  How to keep customers coming back to the stores via relationship building.

3.  How to up-sell for more profits.

He had energy in his presentation that I’d not seen in a long time.  His passion, past retail experience and understanding of what it took to help his clients was spot-on.  He talked about creating relationships (ironic since he was practicing what he preached), how to create loyal customers and how to pair his products with his competitors to increase your average ticket and profit margins.  It was great and even better to see that my client spent most of their money with him.

The point of this is simple.  Customers don’t care that much about ratings, options and features.  THEY WANT YOU and the benefits of dealing with you and your company. I challenge you to stop and watch your staff’s sales presentations.  Go on client visits with them and see how strong their relationships are.  Here’s a hint, if 98% of the visit is about your products and not the life and family of them and their customers…THEY DON’T have relationships or long term clients.  They are a commodity.  Their replacement is 1 incoming cold call.  Price and features only go so far, customer loyalty is built on relationships.

Matt Plapp is a the President of Driven Media Solutions, a Full Service Marketing Firm in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at