Responsiveness “what does that mean?”

1st – don’t worry,all the blog posts are NOT going to be in pirate speak this month! Hope you didn’t find reading the newsletter too much of a chore!

An ASAP Story

Here is a real life story to get you started thinking like I do… long long ago (not really only 15-20 years) in a land far far away (ok a little less than 200 miles away) there was a printer named Russ, who worked in a print shop for a rather grumpy and very effective shop foreman.

Now I like grumpy guys – Ralph the foreman tried and tried to get the salespeople who worked for the company to put ACTUAL DATES on their work orders ~ alas to no avail!

see the list below for the types of things that would be on a work order

One day, there was a lot of work in the backlog and Ralph was trying to prioritize what the pressmen would be working on that day:

In a print shop it is a balance between deadline & batching multiple jobs all of the same color together (effectiveness & efficiency combo – more on that later!) But there were not any dates on the majority of the work orders.

Ralph, 1st took any work order with an actual due date on it… sorted by that. Then inserted other jobs that were the same color ink in between the dated orders, there it was the production schedule for the week…..

Jump to later that day,  one of the salesmen came into the press room F R E A K I N G out!

“where is the bank job, I have to deliver the bank job before 3:00 and it isn’t back there, where is it?”

Ralph, “I didn’t see any work orders that said 3:00 today on them or we would have printed it already”

Sales Guy, “I put ASAP on it!”

*sigh* Ralph…. *sigh* “ASAP = As Soon As Possible, see that pile of work orders…. we prioritized everything by date and then put your order in the section with the color ink that it was to be printed with”

Sales Guy, “WHAT oh my oh my oh my…….. ”

Ralph…. “Let’s find it, what color is it”

Sales Guy, “purple”

Ralph *eyes rolling* …. “Then it is at the bottom of the pile, because it is the only thing that was purple and we didn’t know when your customer needed it”

Sales Question: How often has your prospect or customer asked you in a time-frame using words that mean nothing?

Here is a short list of words that mean NOTHING (if you don’t follow up with a question to find out the true meaning!)

  • ASAP
  • Rush
  • Super Rush
  • Expedite
  • Earliest
  • HELP
  • Now
  • Soonest

the 1st three are seen on print shop work orders to this day! 

Effectiveness & Efficiency Balance

Through out the day people will make requests for: information, products, and services we provide. The only way to meet (or exceed for that matter) their expectations is to truly understand what actual time frame they are expecting;

#1 –  Many times we as salespeople forget to ask what the prospect/customer’s time-frame. I’m not saying you can’t get an impression from tone of voice, but “urgent request” may mean:

End of Business

Before we get off the call

In 5 Minutes

Before My 3:00 Meeting

End of the Week

Before My Project Deadline


Quicker Than My Current Vendor Promised

#2 – If we meet someones expectations “unknowingly” how can we repeat that?

Another true story; a friend of mine started earning a LOT of business, didn’t ask why – one day he put their request aside, thinking “they love me I’ll get to that later”…. sent the info about 4 hrs after that…. never heard anything.

He then called and the purchasing agent said “I ordered that from someone else”

WHAT – Mike was shocked.

and went on to say “yeah, I typically send requests to 3 vendors I trust and buy from the first person who gets back to me”

Make sure you know what expectation you’re trying to meet!

Exact Opposite Story

Early in my career I dropped EVERYTHING to work on a proposal for one of my good customers, sent it off, then heard NOTHING….

Became seriously freaked out and when I finally reached the customer his response was “Well Lynn, the board doesn’t meet until the 2nd Tuesday of the month – I will not know anything until after I present”

Sales Lesson: it is critical to your success with individual customers, to understand their expectations AND process!

#3 – One last thought – don’t let your prospects and customers put you into a position where they can resent you!

 “Unexpressed Expectations = Premeditated Resentments” ~ unknown


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