On a recent business flight, I happened to engage a fellow passenger in conversation. His business was selling steel to manufacturers who make things (almost anything) with steel components.
At first, he made the task seem quite complicated, talking about the various alloys that are available to manufacturers today. There are metals with nickel, metals with aluminum, metals with tungsten… my mind drifted to the movie Forest Gump where a character is explaining how many ways there are to make shrimp. After he finished a considerable list of metals he could sell, I politely answered with, “Sounds like your product line can be a bit complicated.”
He answered, “Not really. It’s actually quite simple.”
As it turns out, most manufacturers employ engineers who know very specifically what the company wants and needs. “So,” the man said, “it is basically my job to go in and tell people that my company offers three options: Quality, Service and Price.”
“Then, I tell them to pick which two they want, because they can’t have all three.”
His point, of course, was that no company can claim to offer the cheapest price, the highest quality, and the most attentive service… all at the same time. (At least, not while making a profit.) The math simply doesn’t work.
The highest quality, the most effective service, or the lowest price!
As a seller, which two would you like to be famous for?
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Mike Anderson is VP Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy.