You Just ATE!

When I was a teenager, I ate every few hours. “I’m hungry,” was the the phrase most often heard from age 13 to 23. If I think about it, I still say that. My mother used to say, “You just ATE!” I would frown and reply, “But I’m hungry!” Our twenty year old son, the one that plays basketball in Laredo, TX, must have said that ten times in three days on a recent trip to Fairbanks, AK. We were there to watch our adopted son, Larod, graduate from college. Now that our youngest is home from school for the summer, he says every very few hours, “I’m hungry!” I smile. Now I know how my mother and father used to feel and think. I now have some perspective.

In sales, depending upon the product or service, there is an average time expectancy (A.T.E.) between purchases. There is an average length of time before a customer itches to buy again. Your morning coffee is a daily itch. James Patterson fans buy his novels twice a year (he outsells Steven King and John Grisham combined!) The average car buyer will buy or lease every three years. The average homeowner moves every five years. As a Keynote Speaker, the itch cycle is three to five years. What is it in your business?

Trust, Relationship, Competence and Timing. The four legs of the sales chair. We are talking about the Timing aspect of sales. How is your business? When was the last time you created a new product or expanded your services? Find a need and fill it. That’s the message in Russell Conwell’s classic little book Acres of Diamonds. This is important to know so you can proactively reach out to your customers when they are in the ‘interest‘ phase. A.T.E. Average Time Expectancy. What is it in your business? Is it time to reach out to your customers and ask? Unassertive sales and marketing people have skinny kids!

What if you reviewed your list of customers and asked yourself: “What product or service can I offer to add value to my clients?” or, “What do my clients need that we are not offering?” “How can we save our clients time, money or both?” “What do they really need?” When was the last time you conducted a survey (either internally or externally) to determine the needs of the people you serve? Do you have all the business you can handle? If not, what if, as a little test, you made a list of 100 clients? What if, for twenty business days, you made five calls or emails a day? What if you asked your clients:
What do we do well?
What could we improve?
What keeps you up at night?
How can we serve you more effectively?
What part of your business is not being served currently?

My guess is, if you do that for a month, you will learn a few things about when your customers have an itch. You may clarify when they have an interest. It might just create a whole new market segment or service offering you have not thought about until now.

“I’m hungry,” my son just told me. “But you just ATE!” Time to make second breakfast. I think he might be a Hobbit…. **********************************************************************

“The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.”

“Right or wrong, the customer is always right.”
Marshall Field

“Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
Thomas Carlyle

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