Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sustainable Selling: Lesson #1

Okay… You finally secured the new account you’ve been after for months, and now you’re back in the office sharing “high fives” with your manager and your sales support team. It’s a good day.

But a funny thing happens over the next quarter. The account stops bringing in the numbers they started with. You ask customer service if they know what’s going on and get a shoulder shrug as a response. You take the initiative to visit the client (something you realize is long overdue) and find out: Your shipments to them have been arriving late or are on back-order.

·        There was a quality problem. The client sent a sample of the defect back, but they’re still waiting for a response.
·       They started doing business with you, but they haven’t seen you since.
·       They had a call from their primary customer service contact, but that person has “gone missing” too.
·       You realize they have a competitor’s product on trial, and know for a fact your price is better than theirs.

You leave the account’s office and sit in your car trying to understand what happened, but the truth is, you already know.

·       You took the account for granted.
·       You fell into the trap of thinking that the products and/or services they bought would meet their expectations without ever checking in with them to make sure.
·       You were busy courting other new accounts and assumed customer service was doing their job. 
·       You forgot that your competition was waiting for you to drop the ball.
·       You dropped the ball.

When we secure someone’s business, we look them square in the eye and shake their hands. But we all live and work in a world that’s gone digital, so it’s easy to forget the value of maintaining contact with the people we are already doing business with. It’s also easy to forget that a significant amount of business is lost due to poor recommendations of after the sale service.

It’s a competitive world. If you want to build a sustainable business or selling career, you need to do the following:

·       Don’t make promises you aren’t going to keep after you secure the account. 
·       Remember that it’s always better to over-serve a little than it is to lose a lot.
·       Treat every customer like you are asking for a referral after every order.

The winners in business are people who master SUSTAINABLE SELLING PRACTICES. They build long-term relationship with their customers—and enjoy the profits that go along with this approach to doing business. 

Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach and Speaker with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, and sales and product training. He holds key accounts with a national sustainable packaging company, is a motivational speaker, and provides sales training to individuals and groups. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at


  1. Sustainably is the key, Alan. Thanks for keeping this in the forefront of our minds as we kick off 2015. Our best customers are not always the ones we are courting, but rather the ones who have been in our system for years.

  2. This is a great reminder to have simple, effective systems in place. Thank you for posting!

  3. Great article, Alan. It' all starts with relationships, right?

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