The other day I received an e-mail from a mid-western manufacturer asking us if we were interested in doing some work for them. They wanted to increase their manufacturing capacity and asked, "So, can you design a survey item that will actually get returned?"
The simple answer is, "Yes." But I wanted to talk about it...in depth. So we set a telephone interview for this afternoon and after the "howdy - hi" portion got into our questions:
- Where, in the nation or region are the majority of your clients? "Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota."
- Long term customers or recent? "Most are long term."
- In the three states, about how many customers do you have? "Seventy."
- How were your customers affected by the recession? "Most faired pretty well and they are starting to climb back."
- Of the seventy customers how many might, in your opinion, have the capacity to increase their buys from you? "Maybe forty-five."
That's when I fired us.
"Look", I said, "we could create a survey for you and take your money and maybe even sell you more stuff. But what you need to do, and you are not going to like my answer, is get in your vehicle and go see each one of these customers. You, not a sales person, not somebody else from the office...you."
It's not always about technology. It's not always about a third-person visit. It's about relationships and going out and asking for the business.
In retrospect, perhaps we didn't fire ourselves...but made a friend.
Thanks for coming by.