Annual client review? Add a splash of ketchup

On today’s Fable Friday I’ll give you an easy tip on how to make the annual client review more effective.

In his outstanding book “What the Dog Saw,” Malcolm Gladwell tells this story. Many years ago the H. J. Heinz Co. in Pittsburgh, decided to do some market research on how families used their number one product, ketchup. So they sent researchers into a number of families’ homes to observe.

2014-clipartpanda-com-about-terms-ylglp7-clipartOne of them told this story.  “There was a three-year-old and a six-year-old, and what happened was that the kids asked for ketchup and the Mom brought out a forty-ounce bottle.  The three-year-old went to grab it, and Mom intercepted the bottle and said, “No, you’re not going to do that.”  So she took the bottle away and poured out a little dollop. No doubt you’ve done this with your own kids when they were little. You see the kid trying to pour a glass of milk from a gallon jug and you say, “Whoa! Let me do that. You’ll spill it all over the place.”

For Heinz, that moment was a wake-up call, because a five-year-old uses 60 percent more ketchup than a forty-year-old, and Heinz realized it needed to put the ketchup in a bottle that the child could control.

The researcher commented, “If you’re four, you don’t get to choose what you eat for dinner, in most cases, but the one thing you can control is ketchup. It’s the one part of the food experience that a child can customize and personalize.”

As a result of these observations and conclusions, Heinz introduced the smaller EZ Squirt bottle, made of soft plastic with a conical nozzle.  And in homes where the EZ Squirt is used, ketchup consumption has grown by as much as 12 percent.  Pretty slick, wouldn’t you say?

Now how does this apply to you when you sell? Do what Heinz did.

If you’re involved in consultative selling and building client relationships, you no doubt schedule annual relationship review meetings. Next time make the first item on the agenda an in-depth “How are you using our product(s) now?”  You’ll often find your client is missing out on a product feature they could be using but don’t, either because they don’t understand it, or no one has shown them how they benefit from it.

A useful example involves any product that relies on software, such as treasury management, cash flow forecasting, foreign exchange, CRM and the like.  Ask how your customer is using it now, so you can make useful suggestions on how to optimize the product’s value.  I’ll bet if my tech-savvy son were to ask me to sit down with him and show him how I use my iPhone, he could give me a dozen pointers on features the phone has that I don’t use, either because I don’t know about them or don’t know how to make them work.

The idea is that annual reviews must begin with some value add by you, before you begin the tedious “What else can we sell this guy?”

Observing usage and asking good questions, whether it’s ketchup, software or any other product is a great way to…

Think Like Your Customer

Advertisements

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: