AN INTERVIEW WITH LARRY TOWNER, VENDING CONSULTANT.
An interview with Larry Towner, vending consultant.
Larry is a veteran vending operator who has had success in all areas of the vending business. Listen in as he answers another good question.
“Ok, so somebody says yes, I want your vending machines in my office, then what do I do?”
With vending accounts This can make or break a lot of vending companies.
B2B sales involves an agreement, be careful what you agree to do.
A good rule of thumb is to under promise and over deliver.
Give yourself enough time to arrange the move.
Have everything ready to go ahead of time.
A VENDING ACCOUNTS CONVERSATION
Tom: All right. Well, do we have time for another question here?
Larry: Sure we do.
Tom: Okay. Well, yeah. Let’s see, somebody says, “Yes,” and they want … They’re saying, “Okay. I’m ready to get started with your machines.” Then what do you do?
Larry: Yeah. This is a great question because this can make or break a lot of companies. If you go out and you have to be real careful in your presentation as to what exactly you’re agreeing to, I guess I want to say.
Larry: This is a business to business sale in general. It’s a business to business sale. You’re going to be placing your business inside of somebody else’s business. That can get a little … I don’t want to say touchy, but people want the right things put into their business. They have a preconceived notion of exactly what’s going to happen and how things are going to go. You have to be very careful with what you say when you actually do the sales presentation and what you’re agreeing to in your vending account.
Larry: As somebody says, “Yes,” so here’s the thing. This is one of my rules. I was taught this in selling many, many, many years go. That’s under promise and over deliver. That’s one of the first things.
Larry: So whenever I’m talking to a customer and the customer says to me a question like, “Hey, that sounds great. We’d love to get started right away. When can you move the machines in?” I always counter back and say … I usually ask questions with a question. It’s an old sales technique. But I say, “When do you want them?” And they say, “Well …” That’s the first question. That’s the first question. It’s like when do want them because if they have somebody in there, they’ve got to make arrangements to get them out of there and things like that. All of this takes a little bit of time.
Larry: The second thing is, “Do you have your equipment ready? Is it ready to go?” If it’s not ready to go, how much time is it going to take you to get your equipment ready to go and your inventory and all the things that you need?
Larry: As you know, these vending machines don’t fill themselves and walk into the vending account. You have to have a means to move them. If you don’t happen to have the equipment that it takes to move vending machines, you’re going to have contact one of your local suppliers who will probably have several choices of machine movers for you to contact so that he can move equipment into the account because it’s not easy. Soda machines weigh 600 pounds and getting one through a door can be a very interesting experience. I’ve done it many, many, many, many times. I did move most of my own equipment.
Larry: One of the first things is give yourself enough time to get done what you need to get done. That is arrange for the move. Make sure if you’re trying to schedule somebody else’s move time, be really, really careful of when they can get in. We always told people because we never moved machines in the rain. We say, “We can do it at such and such a date provided it doesn’t rain.” We always gave ourselves an out because if we did have inclement weather, rain or snow actually, too. But anytime that you’re moving big piece of equipment, you got a safety factor you have to worry about. Anyway, that’s just a little bit of an aside. But I always gave myself enough time.
Larry: Then what I would do is I would go in and say … I would have the equipment ready to go and hopefully I would have it ready to go much … Probably a week before they actually needed it. At that time I would call the customer and I would just say, “Hi, Mr. So-and-So. This is Larry from, my company’s name.” And I’d say, “We’ve got your equipment ready. When you’re ready for us, we’ll be there.”
Larry: Sometimes what you’ll find is you say, “The guy came in yesterday and picked up the equipment.” So he is now without vending and your equipment’s ready. You go and you move it in. Now you bring your equipment in a week before you were supposed to and because the customer actually has the need for it at that time, you’re already starting off a long way towards getting very positive referrals because you delivered before you said you would.
Larry: If you think about that, Tom, when you do business with somebody you like to get a little more out … If you make a deal and you’re satisfied with the deal, but they bring you a little more, doesn’t that mean something to you?
Tom: Yeah. I had the expectation of getting what they said, but then they gave me something additional? That’s always cool. You got to love that.
Larry: Yeah and what that does is, is that builds the confidence in you as a businessman from your company standpoint into their company. He says, “This guy’s all right.” Even if you start off on that foot. Now, you come in a week late, then what happens?
Tom: That is like, “Uh-oh.” I’ve lost my time. I’ve got to reschedule things. Stuff like that.
Larry: Exactly. Exactly. That’s where when somebody says, “Yes,” it’s critical that you absolutely make sure that you’re i’s are crossed and t’s are dotted. I mean, your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted. I went backwards there.
Larry: But just you want to make sure that you can deliver at least on time. Now, in a worst-case scenario, say, who knows? Something happens and you can’t get the equipment. You’ve planned for the equipment to be there two weeks from today. In your mind you say, “No problem. I’ll have it there for a week from today,” but something goes wrong. You don’t get it there until that week. At least you’re still on time.
Larry: That’s why you want to as we say, promise, extend out how long you can do it, but deliver it early. Promise … Make your promises small, but deliver big as it were. If you do that, you’re on the right foot.
Larry: One of the other good tricks in the vending business is to at the time that somebody says, “Yes,” you say, “Hey,” and you make up a form. It’s really just a real simple form. You take your inventory list or what you think you’re going to sell there. Just make up a list and say, “Hey, can you pass this around? We want to make sure that people get what they want.” You put your product list on there. Your Lay’s potato chips and Hershey’s candy, Snicker’s candy bars and M&M yellows and things like that. You write all that down. They just make check marks by it. “Yeah, we want this. Yeah, we want this. Yeah, we want this.” That’s a really good tip. That starts you out on the right foot. These are all marketing concepts, by the way. This is marketing. This is not sales. This is actually vending machine marketing.
Tom: There at the bottom, do you put a little blank line for add your own or something?
Larry: Absolutely. You are always open to take suggestions. Doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. But you’re always open to take suggestions because they might have one item there that you’ve never thought of that you buy and you find out it sells really well there. You take it off to another location. You find out it sells there. All of a sudden you’ve got a sleeper unit that generates you extra sales that you might not have known about. We’ll get into some of that. That’s a lot more of what I call machine marketing.
Larry: Marketing at the machine level because you can market at the machine level meaning your product selections and things like that is a different type of marketing. That’s how you generate the most profits out of your machine.
Larry: Just from the general account sales standpoint, you put that stuff out and it helps to build your credibility. It also gives them what they want. Giving people what they want is how you make sales. You don’t walk in and dictate to them because they’re going to say, “Right. See yeah.”
Tom: Yeah. Good stuff thanks for sharing, Larry. Tell us a little about your consulting business.
Larry: Well, like I say, some of the tips and tricks that you’re seeing here are a lot of what we offer in our consulting business. We specialize in making vending companies very efficient from a sales and marketing standpoint and how to generate maximum profits both operationally and via the various different marketing means. That’s what we do.
Larry: We are available at ServiceGroupInternational@earthlink.net. If you have any questions and we are working on a website that will be up pretty soon. At least we hope.
Tom: All right. And you’ve been listening to the Vending Business Show. A publication of A&M Equipment Sales.