Honesty! What a Concept!

In the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus suggests to a mother that Gimbels, a rival store, offers a better pair of skates, the gift that her child desperately wants for Christmas. The head of the toy department overhears the conversation and is furious. Kris Kringle was specifically instructed to steer children and parents towards Macy’s products regardless of whether they are inferior.

Just as the boom is about to be lowered on Old St. Nick, the mother tells the head of the toy department that she is so impressed by the desire of a Macy’s employee to look past profits and put the customer’s needs first, she proclaims her loyalty to Macy’s.

Honesty. What a concept!

You are calling on a customer and the conversation drifts to, say, large-format printing. Because your plant outsources large-format, you know that you will not be competitive in a pricing situation. Do you:

A. Quote and hope?

B. Quote but take a preemptive strike approach and tell the client it is not your strong suit?

C. Send the customer to “Gimbels” by admitting that the job is outsourced and that they’d get a much better price if they went direct?

Tough call and the correct answer depends just as much on the specific situation as it does your moral compass. What’s important is that the client knows when to come to you and what IS your specialty. Honesty will serve you better, even if it means turning business away to your competition. Doing the right thing will result in some lost dollars, however there is one customer out there who will appreciate the honesty and reward you with not only other work but referrals to others in his or her network; people who possess that same moral compass. Not a bad client base to have, eh?

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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