A Person with the Right Focus


I had the opportunity this week of being part of a sales call to one of our company’s major accounts. The buyer (we’ll call him Jim) was new to our product, but not new to buying or the company he represented.

Jim is one of the best buyers I have ever encountered (and with a life filled with retail, wholesale, publishing and other jobs, I’ve been with hundreds). Two things separated Jim from the pack:

First, he knew his customer intimately. He knew he wasn’t "all things to all people" and he knew, from data, exactly who came into his stores. He knew what they purchased and he knew their demographic. He also knew them personally as he took time to work the floor on many, many occasions in many stores around the country.

Second, he completely understood his company’s business strategy. I’m not talking mission statement, I mean Jim fully knew and understood how his company made money and what he needed to do to help that strategy succeed. And, that business strategy focused on the customer whom they serve.

Everything we discussed with Jim flowed through this gird of customer intimacy and business strategy. Jim was unwilling to violate either one. They gave him a boundary within which he could perform and satisfy both. He was free to do what he needed to do to serve both his customer and his company. For us, his "no" didn’t mean rejection, it meant opportunity to learn about his customer and develop products that fit their needs. So, in the long run we’ll both make money and satisfy shoppers.

My hat’s off to Jim and other buyers who know their customer and their companies so well.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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