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Three Points on the Agenda --DeWese

March 2002
Okay, I want all of you in the back to settle down. Don't make me call security on you. I can't be waiting up here while you finish those beers and hoagies. I've got some serious business to cover in this column and we've got to get started.

Here's the agenda.

First, I'm going to talk about the importance of customers, which some of you dolts still don't seem to get.

Next, I'm going to talk about good negotiating skills, which some of you—especially those in the back row—appear to think is synonymous with fist fights and arguments.

Finally, I'm going to report on the leaders in my Great American Print Sales Prospecting Contest.

But, before I start, I want to say a few words about the U.S. economy. I go to a lot of conferences where important economists make predictions about the economy. Lately, they say, "The economy is bad, but long about June the economy is going to get better. See my charts and graphs."

Many of these learned economists fail, however, to relate the economy to your companies. While I hate to see the weak economy's negative effects on many good people, I will tell you that your company's economy is important to you. I have seen side-by-side, neighboring printing companies with the same equipment perform very differently in this soft economy. One suffers greatly and lays off 30 percent of its workers. The other prospers and grows sales by 20 percent, while profiting 25 percent to 30 percent.

Driving the Economy

My point is that, more than any outside factors, people drive the economy of individual companies. And, within these people, leadership is the most important factor affecting the economics of your company.

Okay, first item on the agenda—"The Importance of Customers."

The CEO of a $40 million sheetfed company told me recently, "We never started to grow until we learned to say, 'Yes!' " His statement reminded me of a small newspaper clipping I keep in my wallet. I'm not sure who wrote these lines originally, but they should be the 10 Commandments of Selling. I'm going to paraphrase the newspaper author to make her words a little more politically correct. She wrote:

* A customer is the most important person in your business.

* A customer is not dependent on us. We are dependent on her/him.

* A customer is not an interruption of our work. She/he is the purpose of it.
 

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