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June 28, 2022

Ask “How Is This To My Advantage?” When Change Comes.

A related thought to my last blog post…. How Is This To My Advantage?

It doesn’t apply to everything that happens. If you get cancer, it won’t apply…..

But I remember one winter (in 1977-1978, I think) Everyone in town was snowbound for several days.

I lived in a mobile home at the time. These were newer homes and everyone was an owner. The snow was deep enough that nobody could get out of the park, the only road to the park was uphill, and they hadn’t plowed it yet. In fact, nobody could even back out of their driveway for 3 days.

I was selling vacuum cleaners. I had one in my car. I thought about just staying in, until everyone was plowed out…I had a good excuse not to work..

But I also knew I had about 200 families that were stuck at home all day…all within a 5 minute walk.

So I grabbed my box with the vacuum in it (It may have weighed 30 pounds) and my sales kit (another 30 pounds in a sample case)….and I started going door to door.

Normally, I wouldn’t sell so close to where I live, I don’t want customers feeling free to drop in. But it’s what I had to work with.

This is sooo long ago…I have to go by memory…but I know I sold 15 (12 net) vacuum cleaners in those three days. I had to deliver them later that week, because I only had the one demonstrator (Normally, I would leave the one I sold in the home)

I started at about 11AM and worked until it got dark. Lots of dragging my stuff on top of 3-4 foot drifts. Almost everyone invited me in. After all, it was during a snow storm. All the stores were closed. They had nowhere to go.

I remember going into the office the day the roads were cleared, (and the snow storm stopped). There were 4 or 5 other reps there, and they were all talking about how horrible the storm was, and how they couldn’t work.

I don’t think I even told them what I did…the moment had passed. It would have just been rubbing it in. And they weren’t trained at all in knocking on doors. We provided all the appointments to them. I was the only one there that preferred getting my own appointments.

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I remember once our vacuum MFG decided to make a drastic change in the machine. They held a meeting at the MFG facility with all the distributors there. There may have been 25 of us there.

I listened as one dealer after another complained about how the change would make it harder to service machines, or how the change meant they had to invest in new parts, or how they had to relearn a new presentation…and of course there was a minor price increase..and there was plenty of baying at the moon over that.

The CEO of the company was a good man, but he didn’t know how to handle this mob. He started apologizing, and I said….

“Carl, don’t apologize. You have given us a fantastic gift here. If any of us were thinking of increasing our price…now would be the time. We could completely justify it on this being a new machine. Thanks for making that transition easier….

And I’ve been wondering how we could make money from the hundreds or even thousands of old customers we have. We couldn’t sell them a new vacuum, because it was identical to what they had. The features were the same. By you investing in these improvements, you have given us he perfect reason to contact all our existing customers and selling them a new machine. (Sadly, on;y a few pairs of eyes brightened on that one)

You changed how the machine is boxed, (from 2 to 3 boxes), and now we can sell the third box as a separate offer, or include it as a bonus, or use to bargain…because it isn’t seen as all included. Having three boxes increases the perceived value in the customer’s eyes. It will be easier to get a higher price and a higher profit on every sale.

By changing the machine you have added features we can talk about with the customers. And our reps have new reasons to get excited about these new and exciting improvements.

I just wanted to say Thank you for thinking about how you could solve these problems for us.”

It would make a great story if I said that all the distributors applauded, and we all hugged each other. But that’s not what happened. Most of the people there still complained…they just didn’t complain to me any more….because I wasn’t one of them.

But two of the biggest distributors there..and the CEO privately told me that I saved his bacon, and that he wanted me to make a short video (VHS) about the improvements made.

Why did I speak up like that? First, I saw a good man being beaten down by the wrong reactions of his distributors. And…I knew as he was describing these changes (and showing them to us), that this was the new reality…and if we gave it just a little thought, we would see the huge advantage this change gave us.

When there is a change, ask yourself “How is this to my advantage?’. You’ll be surprised how often it really is.