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Business Sales Lesson: The Tale of Three Pool Companies

May 16, 2014

Business Advice For Women Entrepreneurs and Small Business


As we uncovered our 14 year old pool on a warm spring morning, we were greeted by a loud noise as our pool liner split. Knowing this occurred at the start of the busy pool sales season, we immediately reached out to the company we bought our pool from and have used for 14 years. A long three days later they evaluated the liner and told us they would get back to us within 24 hours with a quote. They also informed us it would take at least 4 weeks to have the work done. After not receiving the quote after four follow-up phone calls, I picked up the phone and called another company. Our trusted vendor had forced our decision.

Within two hours two men from the second pool company showed up, one with an ear phone on talking non-stop to other customers, and his side-kick, an extremely goofy man who kept forgetting to bring down the right materials to assess the pool. I wish I had a videotape of these two guys because I would have won money sending it to “Funniest Home Videos.” They left promising a 7 day turnaround at a low price. I’m not sure if they thought I was desperate or stupid to think I would hire them after their visit.

Not confident by the second company’s visit, I called one more company hoping I’d have a quick and professional response. Within one hour, a staff member appeared at my house with the right materials to measure the pool with a price estimate and time period of installation less than the first company but more than the second company. The company emailed us an official quote and invited me to the store to pick out liners the same day. I was greeted by another employee who spent 20 minutes with me answering all my questions.

As I discussed the three companies with my husband, a corporate operations director for a major building materials company that demands excellent customer service with a proactive approach to sales, we easily choose the third company. Below you’ll find the reasons why we did and how you can take what I witnessed to approach sales better for your company:

* Answer this question – Do you want existing customers to have to call you multiple times to get a response for a quote or business problem or do you feel it’s your responsibility as the business owner to make the calls to service your customers? If your repeat sales are down this year, maybe you need to be the type of company that makes the follow-up calls.

* Deliver what you verbally promise. If you promise a customer or prospect a sales quote or additional materials to hire your company, deliver when you say and do it professionally. Repeat customers may give you some leeway with timing but not forever. If you can’t deliver a sales quote or services in a timely manner, be honest so the customer can make the best decision for themselves.

*You will be judged by your sales force whether it’s you or others that work for you. Make sure you or your staff has the right appearance and behavior to represent your company. It counts. It could be money lost if you are represented poorly.

*There are many factors that go into someone choosing a company to do business with – price, customer service, timeliness, reputation, and even your Better Business Bureau rating (which we considered as well in hiring the third company). Be attentive to all factors to land your customer’s business.

I’ll let you know if the third company ends up doing the job they promise on time. I sure hope they do. I also hope you take a look at your sales strategy and team to make sure you are doing all you can to keep or land more sales. It is up to you not your customer.

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