June 2006                 Volume 45,  Issue 5

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The Five "K's"
Some Tips on How to Sell Better
by Carl Detering

“Things could be worse. Suppose your errors were counted and published every day, like those of a baseball player.” – Anonymous

It’s baseball season. The players are ready to make the long march toward the World Series. Even though they are professionals, the best in their field before they begin their season, they gather together each year in spring training to work on fundamentals, the basics of how to be a better baseball player. For pitchers this means throwing strikes. For batters this means working on their swing.

So how does this relate to millwork? In many instances, practicing pitches is just what is needed to improve sales results. When we are keeping score in baseball a K represents a strike out, a victory for the pitcher. So, here we go with the 5 K’s of better selling. 

1K. is for Knowledge
The first K is knowledge of the products. This is pretty obvious. We have to know about the products that we sell. With millwork there are lots of options and applications, and putting the package together can get complicated. Most of our customers do not have an extensive understanding of the products that we sell. They need help. They need to know about alternatives for the project, about new products, products that can be substituted or altered to save money, and what works in an unusual application. Need some help on products? Check out the AMD Millwork Course. 

2K. Knowledge of the Customer
As we know, all customers are not the same. What are the customer’s requirements? Different customers like things done different ways. Within reason, it’s up to us to do things the way our customer likes things done. It may be important to the customer that his salesperson calls on a certain day, or that the material arrives in a certain way. Most customers are picky; we need to find out about what things each is picky.

3K. Knowledge of the Company
Consistent performance is critical. How can we have consistent performance if we don’t know what our company is (or is not) capable of doing? It would be helpful to know what products are in stock and what are specials. What is the lead time for those special order items? What is the capacity of the company? When do we need to give some advance notice for a large order? What are the cut offs that will insure on-time delivery?

4K. Knowledge of the Competition
Our customers frequently are professional negotiators. A prospect might tell you, “Your price is too high and the competition can get it here quicker.” In order to keep existing customers and acquire new ones we have to know our competitive advantages and to know that we have to know the competition.

5K. Knowledge of Oneself
This is probably the most overlooked K and the one that we have the most control over. What are my strengths and weaknesses? What can I do to play to my strengths and compensate or overcome my weaknesses? Are there certain areas where I need additional training? How can I do my job better?

Hank Aaron said, “My motto was always to keep swinging.

Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” 

If we put all these “K’s” together, and keep swinging, we can hit a home run this year. 

Play Ball! 

Carl Detering is president of The Detering Co. of Houston and is president of the Association of Millwork Distributors.


SHELTER

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