A Timeline of Time: You Want it When?
I am grateful to have the perspective I do. Having sold prior to the launch of the Internet, I am constantly amazed at what today’s sales reps take for granted. Take delivery times, for example...
Many moons ago, I sold business forms. Two weeks out of college, I was in Worcester (pronounced, “Wuh-sta”), Massachusetts (pronounced, “Romney”), schlepping computer forms and trying desperately not to let my voice crack as I begged for business. I’d park downtown and walk (Yes, walk!) from business to business and back again, uphill both ways.
I was an 80-pound sales weakling. But I digress...
The delivery times we posted at UARCO Business Forms now seem like an April Fool’s joke:
- Standard delivery: 6-8 weeks.
- Rush delivery: 3 weeks.
- “Super” rush delivery: 1 week.
- Anything less than that: Not possible. Not kidding!
My favorite, though, were the tax forms we used to sell. We had (and I’m not making this up) 26-week delivery times for W2 and 1099 forms. That’s six months, kids!
Then came FedEx.
At the same time as I was just starting out, Fred Smith’s idea—born of a term paper he wrote in college—was just getting legs and taking off (pun intended). Fred changed everything, and in an instant, the thought of absolutely, positively needing something right now—and getting it!—was initiated, a thought that permeated the print and forms industries. Suddenly, six-week deliveries became six-day deliveries, then same-day deliveries and, ultimately, while-you-wait deliveries.
I once produced a job that arrived in my e-mail inbox while I was sitting in a hotel room in Melbourne, Australia. The client sent the file from the company’s Denmark headquarters, but then requested changes. I e-mailed the revisions to my designer in Denver who made the changes and sent the file to Boston for an OK. Once approved, it was FTP’d to my friends at Wise Business Forms in Georgia who cranked out the 250 jewel case covers for a CD and FedEx’d them back to the client in Boston. Ironically, the slowest part of that whole process was FedEx itself. It had the audacity to take all night to deliver the job.
Oh and get this: the client still complained about the price!
He had no idea what happened behind the curtain until I told him. I remember there being dead silence on the phone for a good 45 seconds until he submitted with a simple, “Fine!” and begrudgingly paid the bill.
I worry about what is coming next. FedEx is no longer fast enough. We now live in a text messaging world. My kids send me a message and then call 90 seconds later, indignant that I didn’t respond. Shame on me, girls, I was driving!
Six months to six days to six hours to RIGHT NOW, DAD!!! What a world.
You can get high-quality color printing in minutes, but the delivery time for a decent pizza is still 45 minutes. And you call that progress?
Free sales training material is available at www.AspireFor.com. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (781) 934-7036.
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