"You don't take a chance when you bet on yourself", says Bob Salvin, an international distributor of medical products adapted for implant dentistry. He has customers in all 50 states and in 27 countries. How does he get them?
"I think of myself as humbly assertive. I give first – if I start to think what I'll get back or start to count my orders before I get them, I always lose. My philosophy is to give as much as I can. Eventually it comes back much greater than the original gift, and from the most unexpected places."
"My definition of marketing is getting your telephone to ring with qualified buyers." How do I do that? By:
- Giving out thousands of catalogs to the right people at a trade show.Mailing catalogs after a trade show.
- Mailing the catalog to qualified lists .Mailing catalog to pre–registered meeting lists – buyers put us on their list of "Must Visit."
- Mailing quantities of catalogs to dentists.
- Offering clinical courses in their offices.
- Asking lecturing doctors to recommend us.
- Talking to a qualified customer at a meeting or trade show.
"I have developed a 'cross mentoring' network locally, nationally and internationally. I talk to other people who do part of what I do and try to help them as they help me. Sometimes I call them – sometimes they call me. Not direct competitors, but businesses who have the same marketing components."
- I talk to others who do catalogs.
- I talk to others who do trade shows.
- I talk to others who run distribution centers.
- I learn from them. They learn from me.
I learn how to win by networking and developing relationships with winners.
"We do a tremendous amount of direct mail and trade show marketing. I know to be successful I have to capitalize on these leads. I also know to turn those leads into sales, I'd better be extraordinary."
"Everyone we meet and talk to at a trade show gets a personalized letter with another catalog. We highlight the products they showed interest in – and we do it within 36 hours after the show." Says Salvin, "We want to prepare the customer up front that they are about to receive excellent service." WOW.
"People love to buy," says Salvin, "but customers tend to buy from people they know and trust."
"Every dentist has a closet of stuff he thought he would like, thought he needed but didn't," says Salvin, "My objective is to never have any Salvin products in that closet."
"A doctor's time is short. I've got to get their attention fast and gain interest so I can gain more time."
- I don't sell. I make it easy to buy. My prospects and customers get multiple personal exposures to Salvin – and toll free communication.
- I provide multiple choices at multiple levels. All kinds of options with every product we sell. For example:
- Technical literature.
- Technical literature plus a video demonstrating the product.
- Literature, the video, plus a 30-day trail.
- I make it easy to decide. Evaluate at your leisure, test it in your environment for three weeks.
- I make it easy to return. But very few choose that option.
"I'm a puppy dog marketer. I offer our highly technical products on three week or 30–day trials." says Salvin, "Less than one of 30 return these products, but that's a misleading figure. Our referrals from those who keep the products, far exceed the number of products returned. We have added video training to enhance the sales ratio. And even those who do return continue to purchase our other products.
We create multiple ways to win...
- Create different benefits
- Create different terms
- Create different perceived values
Lifetime warranties might be important to some, not to others.
- The comfort level of my prospect is paramount to their deciding to buy my product. We create multiple ways to win by offering the prospect comfortable choices.
- My objective is to create enough confidence to make the initial sale then deliver in way that creates long term opportunities.
- I explore how many ways I can develop communications so that the customer gets my message in a way he or she finds comfortable.
Bob Salvin does not always have the lowest the prices, and he's proud of it. He tells a customer, "First let me tell you the price, but price is not why most of my customers (94% of whom are repeat) buy. They buy the value, the extended warranty, the extended terms, the help to finance and the technical support. They buy the product, the support, and the organization – then they buy the price."
"I create winning situations. I train my customers how to understand, use and profit from the equipment I sell." said Salvin, "It's not what it costs, it's what it produces. I tell my customers we usually have the best price – but we always have the best value."
"I make sales in the most unorthodox ways I've ever seen." Salvin said. "I'll invite a prospect 1,000 miles away to have lunch with me." I say, "Let's have lunch together at our desks, over the phone. I send my product ($1,000 – 5,000 value), we discuss the possibilities, and I do a demo over the phone while we eat a sandwich. The products we sell are technique sensitive, and a big part of our value is to convey proper use."
How many ways do you have for your customers to buy or get to know about and buy your product? Here are 10 of Salvin's multiple ways to win:
- Literature and technical manuals.
- Training video.
- Third party referral.
- Extended warranty (beyond factory).
- Lifetime warranty.
- Return it if not satisfied.
- Support before and after the sale.
- Sample of product of free trial.
- Loaned equipment during repair.
"By eliminating ways to fail, you give the the prospect comfort to buy, and buy now. In my marketing plan I have ostensibly eliminated the risk of my prospect making a poor choice."
Bob Salvin is not just smart, he's wise.
Here are a few of his philosophies of marketing that we can all benefit from:
- Try to personalize everything you do.
- Look for ways to go beyond what's expected, and then do them without being asked
- Make the prospect or customer think about you, even if they don't buy.
- Make your prospect excited to get your stuff.
- Make your prospect feel comfortable enough to do business with you.
- Make them laugh.
- Learn what is important to them.
- Give prospects choices they can't refuse.
- Create new ways to say "thank you" for business.
"I'm southern polite when I sell. I ask permission to do everything," says Salvin. "I ask 'Is that OK?' " Evidently it is because Salvin's phone rings off the hook.
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