Dear Manager,

All aspects of management demand that we be good salespeople. All consumer products companies are devoted to, and at some level “controlled by,” the KING. Have we not all been taught that yes, the “CUSTOMER IS KING?” In an effort to illustrate the customers’ importance, these regal soles have also been granted the supreme status of “always being right.”

Have you ever known of anyone who could even come close to always being right? Are you kidding? No way on God’s green earth! I believe we all realize these axioms are based on a generalized philosophy of one’s approach to doing business. Problems only arise when we accept these values in literal form rather than general form. You guessed it! There’s a group of individuals who currently expect us to accept this adage in “very literal terms.” Yes, it is a majority of our current and future customers.

I have no problem accepting these ideals in their intended context and frame of reference. Nordstrom, as well as many others, have outperformed their peers for years by bringing a much greater sense of focus and priority to meeting the needs of their customers.

In the legal system, there is a standard litmus test that all contracts must pass to be considered valid. The standard that has withstood centuries of litigation is: for a contract to be valid, benefit to both parties must be established. A contract that only benefits one party will never hold up in a court of law. If you look at it from a purely legal perspective, just how right are all of these customers?

The customer is, in fact, always right, with the following exceptions: in the case of being misinformed or being misguided. Misinformed or misguided? Impossible your might say!?!


These are the customers with whom we hold the greatest opportunity to evoke positive changes. It is certainly not their fault that they are, or choose to be, so poorly informed. Look upon it as your civic duty and a public service to show them the light. Let’s look at the buyer’s perspective.

In most cases, from their perspective, the defining element in any sale or contract seems most often to be focused on price. Price is a very tangible and precise medium in the negotiation process. Your customers will hound you about price at the beginning, middle, and end of many of your presentations. Within reason, we must certainly be competitive in this arena. I also believe that for the highly skilled professional, pricing issues are very rarely the defining element. This is where we must become the teacher, to assist the misinformed.

If price were the only issue, half of America’s economy will not, could not, would not, exist. In the absence of price considerations, quality, service, performance, confidence and personal relationships guide the vast majority of all business relationships. All too often, we allow our customers to emphasize and overstate pricing issues, as compared to true value issues associated with the balance of “the contract.”

If a product costs $1, what is its actual cost if, in fact, it is never received? In this scenario, would free provide additional value? Creating “added value” seems to be the buzzword of the new century. I’m not sure that anything has been added, such as octane to gasoline, but I do suggest that we need to be able to define and establish true value to our customers. Yes, our customers need to be better informed. We are in a position to do so, and the only ones willing to do it.

If price is a much more precise and tangible factor, how do we better define these secondary features and benefits, bringing similar clarity and definition? Ahhhh, this is where selling becomes pure. This is also what will define and protect salespeople in the new economy.

By nature of the buying and selling relationship, we must do a better job of bringing significant definition to the role we play, its value, and its priority.

If I had to define a single factor, one that translates to more sales in American business, it would be – without question – relationships. Fortunately, loyalty based solely on performance and established mutual benefit will rule in the buying and selling of commerce in the United States. Relationships suggest an understanding of the mutual value relating to service, confidence, performance, and in many cases, quality as well.

The problem comes in our ability to quantify this value. I believe many of us side step this most important of opportunities. Few of us wish to self promote, particularly to individuals with whom we enjoy a strong working relationship. It may become easier to allow them to focus on price, and hope that these “other considerations” will assist in a fortuitous outcome and conclusion. Come on. Are you truly willing to bank your fortunes on the potentially misinformed? If so, it may be time to get out of sales.

It is now time to bring definition and specifics to your value as a resource, and the ultimate sale and contract. What are your consistent service, confident hand, and past performance worth? A heck of a lot more than price! Incorporate these equations into each and every one of your sales presentations. With practice, this can be done effectively, not in a self-serving way, but in an informational way for those who may be misinformed.


In literal form, one would also have to conclude that all business is good business. What happens when the Nordstrom customer purchases a gown the day of a prom, only to return it the next day (only slightly used) due to “its obvious and clearly apparent poor fit?” Even for the standards of excellence that Nordstrom has established, this has got to be a challenge. Yes, there is such a thing as bad business.

Once again, our customers often rely too heavily on their regal throne of righteousness, never to acknowledge that a one-sided contract has been established. Conversely, we as sales people are often so hungry for the sale that we are willing to attach a dollar bill from our own wallet with every delivery. Unfortunately, I believe there are not enough of us who will stand up and define a relationship, and its understood contract, invalid. We have all created valid relationships that have lost their foundation of mutual benefit over time. These relationships are often derailed by the misguided. It is our responsibility to illuminate their path, or terminate the relationship, turning off the lights as we shut the door.

We must first define who the misguided parties are. More often than not they are hiding behind significant volume streams, years of commitment, and prior profitability. Others never fulfilled their commitments to us, or overstated their ability to provide value. Still others were simply a poor business decision on our part from the outset.

In the above instances, a conversation and conclusion relating to mutual profitability can only create benefit. Either they become valuable, or the losses have been eliminated. First, define your objective. If the objective is to proceed, then create a success formula that you feel you can both live with. At all costs, protect future potential with this client. If necessary, suggest alternative resources for your products. In your presentation, be sure to explain that you would certainly never expect them to continue an unprofitable relationship. They certainly must share this perspective!?!

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM