In a world that pressures us to be instantly at the top, Alex Mandossian offers a fresh perspective on starting and maintaining any business. In this episode, he talks about being number two and how that benefits you in the long run. He details what it can do to win more clients and why embracing being number two can move you to number one in the long run. Find out more as you learn how to focus on the prospects’ interest and not on your product, and ultimately win in business.
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Win More Clients by Being #2
Harvey, The Envelope Salesman
This is the story of Harvey. At the time, Harvey was 26 years old. His father was a famous newspaperman but Harvey decided to go into the envelope manufacturing business. Not so much manufacturing envelopes but selling accounts for envelopes that were manufactured.
One of the nice things about envelopes is they’re only used once. It’s a consumable item that people have to buy again and again. Harvey is sitting in a car with one of the best salespeople for the company he was working for. They’re drinking coffee. It’s freezing cold because this was in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
They were right outside the manufacturing plant of the biggest envelope manufacturer in the entire city. They were the biggest because they had the most sales. Harvey was looking at his mentor and asking him, “Why are we here at 5:30 AM?” His mentor said, “Harvey, don’t worry about it. Wait for the truck to leave.” He said, “What truck?” “The delivery truck.”
Harvey was waiting for the delivery truck and not long after, a truck comes out of the stockyard. The gate opens and then his mentor says, “Harvey, turn on the engine and let’s go.” Harvey liked that because it was cold and they got to turn on the heat. They followed the truck.
Harvey looked at his mentor and said, “What should I do?” “Follow the truck and take notes on where the truck stops.” This was a delivery truck delivering envelopes. If you have a delivery truck with the number one of anything in any city then that means that those stops are the accounts of that number one. In this case, it was an envelope manufacturer.
Harvey followed the truck almost like an investigative reporter. He watched where the truck stopped. He recognized the account. It was a fairly prominent business. He wrote down the address and the name of the business. The truck started on with the journey and stopped at another account. Harvey took notes again. The truck kept going and Harvey kept recording. The truck would go, stop at an account, and make the delivery. The delivery man would come back into the truck and they would keep going.
This continued for the better half of the morning until the truck came back to the envelope manufacturing plant. The next morning, Harvey and his mentor were there waiting for the truck to come out. They did the exact same thing. They kept following the truck and Harvey took notes of where the truck stopped.
[bctt tweet=”Experience is not the best teacher. Experience is the only teacher.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
Within a week, Harvey had a record of over 100 accounts. They were the top accounts of the number one envelope manufacturing company in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Harvey says, “I have this list and we did our research. We’ve been doing this now for a week. We haven’t sold anything yet. What do you want me to do first?”
His mentor could have told him what to do but he didn’t. He allowed Harvey to experience the process. It’s an Alexism from a previous episode, Experience Is Not the Best Teacher. Experience is the only teacher. For something to sink in underneath your hide and in every orifice of your body where you know that it’s the truth, with a big T, the way to do it is to experience it. It’s not just talking about it, but to demonstrate it to yourself by going through it.
Harvey has spent a full week. He had gone through all the effort. It was a lot of work, and there was no selling done. Why wasn’t there any selling done? Think of all the time they saved in guesswork. Think of all the conversations they didn’t have to have because they knew what accounts were attached to the number one manufacturer in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. You can do this throughout the country, even internationally, but this was just in that area. At 26 years old, that’s what Harvey was learning.
He asked his mentor, “What do we do next?” “You’re going to go into every one of those accounts.” What Harvey thought was he would go in and try to steal the business. His mentor, the top salesperson said, “You’re not going to steal the business. First of all, that wouldn’t be nice.” Harvey said, “What do you mean? This is marketing. It’s warfare, isn’t it?”
He says, “No. If you try to steal the business then what makes you so sure that once we have the account, someone else isn’t going to steal from us? We don’t want to steal the business away. You’re going to go in and you’re going to acknowledge who their only envelope manufacturer is.” They would probably buy some envelopes when they needed it from local stores and stationery stores. When they need a big volume, they get it through the envelope manufacturing company.
Harvey went in and it was a simple sales pitch. It was acknowledging who they were doing business with. It was acknowledging that he didn’t want to steal the business. It was requesting, asking permission, and inviting that account if Harvey’s company could be number two. In other words, not to make any sale but to sacrifice short-term profit in exchange for long-term wealth, eventually getting the sale.
Sacrificing Short-Term For Long-Term
This isn’t transactional. This is relational. This isn’t hunting. This is farming. With hunting, when you go after what you want, then you get what you want. It could be getting fruit or getting a meal. You come back and then you’re done. That’s the transaction. Farming means that you have to till the soil and prepare the soil. You have to plant the soil with the seeds or whatever harvest that you want. It takes a season or two until it bears fruit.
Many people don’t like this because they don’t have the patience of parenting. What they want to do is make it a fling. If you want to ask someone for marriage on the first date, chances are you’re not going to succeed. Maybe you’d even get a slap on your face, whether you’re male or female. That’s not what Harvey did. What Harvey did is he says, “I know who’s number one but I want to fight like hell to be your number two. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
The account would say, “We’ve got nothing to lose.” Harvey said, “That’s right. Is it okay if I share with you cost-saving tips and ways that you can expand the power of using these envelopes so that you save money and you get more out of them?” They said, “Sure. How do we get more out of the envelopes?” “You recycle them and you send it back to the envelope manufacturer.”
They would say, “I never knew that. That would save me money?” “It should. They’ll probably be grateful for it. They have to buy their pulp to make the paper and then create envelopes. They have to do that anyway. If you’re recycling, you’re saving money. Hopefully, they can carry on the cost savings to you.”
That was it. That was the sales pitch to over a hundred accounts of the largest envelope manufacturer in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area for that time. What happened? First of all, let me confess who Harvey is. He’s in his 80s. He’s a mentor of mine. He’s a friend of mine. I call him a friend as long as I’m breathing. I’m talking about Harvey Mackay.
He has over half a dozen international bestsellers. You’ve probably have heard of Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, which are little vignettes about sales experiences of which this story is part of. Fast forward one year, about 20% of those accounts that he visited came to him and said, “We’re ready for your business.” The following year, about another 20%. Fast forward about 60 months, which is five years he had over 100% of the accounts.
Being Number Two
How can you have over 100%? Being number two, there’s no sense of entitlement. It’s like getting a silver medal in the Olympics. You’re not getting the gold so you’re not entitled. There’s no sense of arrogance. You’re grateful that they’re talking to you. You’re in the game. You’re not on the sidelines. You’re in the batter’s box. You haven’t gotten rejected because why would anyone reject number two?
The number one person, account, or manufacturer, or service professional might move. You become number one by default. Maybe they’ll screw up several times. You’ll be number one by default. Maybe they get entitled, ignore the account, and only send holiday cards. That’s the only time that they frequent the account other than getting a reorder. If this goes on and on, who stands out? Number one or number two?
[bctt tweet=”Caring is the ultimate competitive advantage in starting and maintaining any business.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
If you’re a number one and you act like a number two, you stand out. The reason he got over 100% of the accounts that he had marked and recorded in that one week, five years prior, is because those accounts were referring him to people even before they took on Harvey’s manufacturing company as number one.
You may recall Avis’ famous Unique Selling Proposition or USP. It was, “We’re number two. We try harder.” What I’m asking you to consider is seeking to be number two in a sales transaction, which is just a conversation. Don’t look for profit. Don’t look for the yes of the account. Look for the yes for the relationship, not for the transaction. There’s less pressure. There’s no rejection. You’re demonstrating care.
I heard this line by Christopher Morley but I’ve heard quoted it many times by other people. That is, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” I believe you can’t say that you care about someone. You have to demonstrate it. I believe that about trust as well. You have to demonstrate it consistently so that you become predictable. Being number one can lead and often does lead to entitlement.
If you have any clients and they’re number one service professional, are you a little entitled? Do you feel entitled? If you’re humble, you demonstrate entitlement by not reaching out except for business transactions, not asking about their family, friends or how they’re doing at times other than the holidays. Doesn’t this make sense? You become relational instead of transactional.
We’re number two. We try harder. This is an ethical influence strategy that Avis and Harvey used. It takes a lot of research to find out who’s number one. I’m not suggesting that this doesn’t take any work. It takes a lot of research. It’s like sharpening the saw for four hours and cutting down the tree for an hour if you have five hours to cut down a tree. You want to look at what number one does and doesn’t do. Do what they don’t do that you think they should.
By being number two, you’re lowering your expectations, especially for rejection. It protects your confidence. You stand out because there’s no reason why that you could be and should be giving them tips or ways to save money and make more money, as I addressed with Harvey.
I’m saying that it still works but it’s all about cultivating the relationship. It’s about farming and not about haunting. Let me say one thing about bonding with potential clients. When I say potential clients, I mean candidates. You’re still number two. No money has exchanged hands between you being number two and them. It’s only them and number one.
It does take patience. It’s like a parent would be patiently watching their kids grow up, crawl, walk and stumble, fall flat on their faces. Eventually, they learn how to walk and run. The ultimate is to skip because you’re so happy and joyful. You don’t find clients who know that you care about them until you have demonstrated that you are interested in them. You’re interested in what they do and for their welfare, not just about your business.
They know you want their business. Don’t think that they don’t know that. You’re not there as a hobby. You’re there as a professional. You want their business. By caring, taking notes, research, knowing their family names, where they hang out, what they enjoy, what restaurants they go to, by being interested in them, they will find you interesting. The only way that you are found interesting by a potential client is to be first interested in them. Focus on the prospects’ interest, not on your product.
You can even have a bonding plan. What do I mean by that? You can have a planned editorial calendar where you send them something every couple of weeks a little tip, a note. Not a note of thank you, but a tip on how to save money and how to make more money. We call that an editorial calendar which you plan in advance. You can templatize it so it automatically goes out. That’s what Harvey did. Eventually, he ended up owning the envelope company called Mackay Envelope Corporation.
It generated over $600 million and more. He brought on a partner many years later. He ended up becoming a bestselling author. Who bought the books? His clients bought the books. In a place where most people only print 10,000 copies like his publisher wanted to, he made them publish 100,000 copies. He had the sales before it even made it into Barnes & Noble, or back then there was Borders.
Focus on the prospect’s interest, not on product benefits. An editorial calendar is where you can send these clients little tips on how to save and make money, how to make their life better and easier. They don’t want to think about buying what you’ve got. They want to make their life easier.
Alexism: Caring As The Ultimate Competitive Advantage
The Alexism for this episode is this, caring is the ultimate competitive advantage in starting and maintaining any business. If you’ve ever seen the Manhattan Skyline, what’s beneath it at the street level is the hustle and bustle of Manhattan or New York City.
When I first met Harvey, it was at a learning annex event years ago. I heard this strategy and I started teaching it. I was initially mocked by my competitors, even by my students. “Be number two? No way. This is New York City, you’ve got to be number one.”
[bctt tweet=”You don’t find clients who know that you care about them until you have demonstrated that you are interested in them.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
Those who mocked me were eventually thwarted and usurped by me. If they had any clients, I was their number two coach and mentor. I became number one without stealing but by providing value and caring. I’ve done it. Others have done it. You can do it, too. It’s genuine and authentic. It’s selling without pitching. It’s selling without selling. It’s selling by caring.
A review of the insights you and I discovered in this episode. Number one, client acquisition is easier and often faster if you aim to be number two. That’s relational versus transactional. Next, the be number two client acquisition strategy will protect your confidence because it almost eliminates rejection. It reduces it. Even if they reject you, you weren’t denied because you didn’t ask for the sale. You just asked to be in the position of the sale.
Number three demonstrated caring is the ultimate competitive advantage in business and in your personal life. Remember, these insights can only work for you if you work them.
Speaking of reviews, go to iTunes, that’s AllSellingAside.com/itunes and type in your biggest a-ha or take away moment you experienced. If you haven’t done it, it would mean a lot to me when iTunes asks you to give me a rating. I hope I’ve earned five stars from you. Will you do that for me?
Go ahead, declare the one big take away in the iTunes reviews section by visiting AllSellingAside.com/itunes. It will take three minutes out of your day, but what you declare could provide you a lifetime of learning. You’re doing it physically with your hands, not just with your head and your heart.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that if you’ve given me a review, I thank you. I want you to write your a-ha moment or your big take away on an index card and put it somewhere. As you review those over the weeks that come, then you will revisit the feeling, insights, and future business-building capabilities I’m hoping to give you.
I have one final gift to give you in honor of this 33rd episode of All Selling Aside. That’s complimentary access to my video eCourse that will teach you how to identify your market niche, how to create your message, and how to capitalize on the most lucrative and cost-effective media sources available to you. I’ll give it to you so you don’t have to pay $197 tuition everyone else pays. It’s MarketingOnlineMentor.com.
I hope our paths cross again. I hope you’ve subscribed, rated, and reviewed so that you’re part of the All Selling Aside family. Please join me in the next episode because our topic will be Ask for Assistance Not Help. I encourage you to invite a friend or a study buddy because reading with someone else and comparing notes can be more fun. There’s no such thing as a self-made success.
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