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Tuesday / May 18.
HomemibusinessThe Second Supplier Entitlement Awaits You

The Second Supplier Entitlement Awaits You

There is an additional, key service entitlement that is available to you from all suppliers… so don’t miss out!

The first service entitlement is known to all optometry practices and offered (or at least claimed) by all suppliers: ‘we have good products, good service, good trading terms, good technical and merchandising support and good people’.

I work closely with large and small suppliers in many industries and this is the language used by just about every company. Hopefully they deliver on this first service promise and heaven help them if they don’t. However, delivering on the first service promise only gets suppliers and their customers to the starting line of success, not to the finishing line.

The second service entitlement is known to very few practices and rarely offered by most suppliers (for reasons I will explain later): ‘we have created a library of radical ideas that have been proven to help optometry practices with each of our products. They will provide higher levels of satisfaction for your customers and better sales for your business.’

Imagine not only being supplied with products, but also with verified information about how to achieve success with those products

Imagine not only being supplied with products, but also with verified information about how to achieve success with those products. When you think about it, not only does this entitlement help you and your customers, it makes perfect sense for the supplier: if you sell more of their products then you will buy more of their products.

Would it surprise you to know that all suppliers have access to such valuable information? If so, then just think about it for a moment: who else would know how to achieve success with their products than the suppliers? After all you might have one or a few practices but they deal with hundreds and possibly thousands of retail customers. So, who is better placed than they are to look at and study their customer base and find success stories that would be of interest to everyone else?

Here is a view of practices and their success rate with a particular product (any product)…

Here you can clearly see that some practices enjoy a high rate of success, many experience average performance and quite a lot register lower result levels. This is quite normal, but despite this obvious performance picture, many suppliers have yet to look for and find the formation of achievement in the markets they ‘serve’. This is because the usual radar used by suppliers covers ‘who buys the most?’, ‘what is our share of purchases?’, ‘is it profitable for business?’, ‘do they pay on time?’, etc.

Sharing the Success

All these measurements are important, but they are nowhere near as critical as knowing which customers enjoy the most success, in three key areas:

  • The results of high-achievers
  • The motivation of high-achievers (why do they take the product more seriously?)
  • The special strategies used by high-achievers

When this information is located and stored, through use of what is called ‘the success search’ it can then be used in a responsible manner to benefit all practices and their customers. None of this involves ‘stealing’ from practices; it relates to finding success stories and then spreading such news in a way that is satisfactory to all parties. And the point is that practices that succeed in one product area will need help in other product areas so everyone can progress with such a scheme.

I mentioned earlier that most suppliers rarely offer this kind of vital information, and there are several reasons for this:

  • They use only the ‘buying’ radar outlined above;
  • They are rarely, if ever, asked for this information by customers, because optometry practices are accustomed to suppliers operating with only the first service entitlement;
  • They do not know how to find the information;
  • They are worried that spreading such news would be seen as unfair to the practices that created the success stories and this would make sense if they did so in a conspiratorial manner.

Medical breakthroughs are distributed and not withheld, and the same principle should apply to the use of sales success for an entire market. I have been involved in this form of marketing exercise many times, and I should add that in most cases the successful customers were actually invited to be part of the communication of their achievements.

In fact, one company involved in supplying to optometry practices asked me to help retailers achieve more with their product, so I thanked them and suggested that we start by meeting with their most successful customers. They said, ‘do you mean the ones that buy the most?, and I said, ‘no, the practices that sell the most.’ They then gave me the kind of look that you would get from a dog if you showed it a card trick.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it took four months to find one very successful practice in each state, with their product, and the most successful was from Queensland and his ‘score rate’ was of Michael Jordan proportions! The point is that before the ‘success search’, no one in that company knew about this gentleman’s results, motivation or very special strategies… including the rep that called on him. The rep knew the customer ‘bought a lot’ but he had no idea what was going on with his company’s product inside the practice!

How to Receive Your Second Service Entitlement

I do not use the term ‘entitlement’ lightly, but please remember that most suppliers will not have this information – yet. So here is the question that I suggest you ask (in a nice manner): “No doubt you have many customers that buy product X from you, and obviously just a few will have found ways to achieve excellent, uncommon results with product X, for the benefit of their customers and in terms of sales for their practices.

“My question then is, will you please discuss this issue back at your company and report back to me as soon as possible on what ideas are being used by high-performing practices so that we can put those ideas to use in our business, with your help? I should add that if the high-achievers operate close to us then I would not expect to hear about their results and strategies. One last point is that we would be more than happy to share information with other practices that you supply, if we reach the point of being seen as a high-achiever in one or more product areas, providing that our immediate competition will not receive the information.”

That should put the cat amongst the pigeons, as they say, but it will be for a very good cause for all parties concerned and it will be interesting to see what responses come your way. I would be very grateful to hear from you about the progress you make with this challenge, or the difficulties, as the case may be.

John Lees is a sales and marketing specialist, the author of 11 books on business development, and a sought-after and versatile speaker, trainer, consultant and business coach. You can find out more about his services and books, CDs and DVDs at www.johnlees.com.au.

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