Home > Cold Calling > Repetitive Sales (Calling customers several times per week)

Repetitive Sales (Calling customers several times per week)

I am in the floral business in the importer segment of the industry. We sell fresh cut flowers to wholesalers in the USA and Canada. Our business is similar to the produce business. We (sales people) of this segment find ourselves in the blind spot when it comes to find literature or training for our particular sales system.

We have to call our customers 2 and 3 times in one week for offering our products and the major challenge is not to sound repetitive or boring every time we contact the customer. This business is not the kind of business in which you call your customer once or twice a month.

We are in a segment of the industry that fast paced and driven primarily by price and in a much lower percentage by quality without worrying about price. This is one of the issues but not the most important one.

The wholesale buyers have very little time on the phone and the product list is very long. Besides, technologically speaking many of them do not even use IM or rarely see their emails and fax toner is a problem when you send more than one page per week. So what I want to say is, there is too much info to show and very little time on the other end of the line.

There is way too many people offering the exact same product as I am (which is hundreds of different flowers) and I'd like to find new and better ways to communicate with my customers without being annoying.

Does anyone feel familiar with my situation? - by JPHenao
What is the goal of your call? New item introduction, maintenance, account penetration, etc.? - by fred
The goal of the call is to get orders from the customer. They can be of fulfillment, customized, specials, etc. The usual orders are of fulfillment or replenishment of staple products the customer sells. (Example: Bread, Milk, Eggs in a Supermarket).
Besides these orders I have to offer novelty products and specials to increase the chances of having a bigger sale.
It don't want to fall in the "Hi, what do you need today?... Nothing?... Ok, I'll call you in a couple of days... bye" type of impersonal call but I don't want to sound like a rookie telemarketer either.

These are customers I talk several 1, 2, 3 and even more times per week depending on their necessities. I would like to find a way to sound fresh every time I call.

This business does not fall to far from the usual way telephone sales works. If you catch the customer in a good mood and at the right time, chances are you could get a better order but this doesn't concern me. What concerns me is how can I be better on the phone if I'm calling my customer more than once or twice a week. - by JPHenao
What is standard procedure in your company or industry for this type of call? - by AZBroker
The procedure is not rigid. Usually the way I do it is I call and try to engage in a little conversation prior to offering what is on stock plus some kind of special that can compliment the order.

Our segment of the industry (Importer-Wholesaler) does not have a standardized call type or way to offer the products. It changes from company to company. The supply and demand on our business is very fluctuant so this makes it a very dynamic business.

As in any business the target is to build a relationship with the customer but having so much competition makes it somehow challenging.

All factors drive me to the same question. Is there any method, course, book, seminar that teaches or help you improve your sales when you have so much communication with your customer? - by JPHenao
Apparently my problem has less answers than I thought I would get. If anyone has any resource I can use, please let me know. - by JPHenao
Apparently my problem has less answers than I thought I would get. If anyone has any resource I can use, please let me know.
I'm on my way to the Beach but a quick suggestion would be to work on your (consultative) relationships with the clients. Become a resource they can rely on. Sorry... have to run. - by fred
JP, This does sound like an unusual type of telemarketing. I've got more questions than answers
  • Do your competitors call their customers several times a week, also? Do your customers expect you to call so often? If not, maybe you are contacting them too much, which is not helping your relationship.
  • Do you actually have situations where you get orders every time you call in the same week? If you do, then maybe you need to step back and look at your overall strategy, rather than finding ways to make the calls more interesting.
In my experience, in industries where companies place orders as often as several times a week, their vendors try to establish relationships where the orders are "automatic". Could you do this in your industry?

For example, say your customer uses $100 of flowers a week. You would negotiate an agreement with your customer for $400 worth of flowers a month, delivered in weekly shipments so the flowers are always fresh.

You could work with your customer to discover how many flowers they need, and at what intervals, then write a contract or agreement to provide what they need at the intervals they need it. The agreement would cover some period of time - a month, a quarter or a year.

Sometimes this is called a Blanket Purchase Order. You establish an Blanket Purchase Order with your customer - say for $400. They keep ordering from you until the $400 is used, then you renegotiate the contract.

I'm thinking maybe why you got so little response is that this is a very unusual situation. It is not often that customers just wait for vendors to call, then place an order with whoever calls them when they need something. What do they do if they need something on a day when no one calls?

It's difficult to give advice when the process is so unusual, I think. Does any of this make sense to you? - by KSA-Mktg
Hi Kathleen. Thanks for the advice.

The reason for calling several times is that the wholesalers (depending on their size) order once, twice or more times a week from companies that import flowers and are located in Miami, Fl.

The wholesalers transport the products they buy in Miami in refigerated trucks to their locations.

It is standard in the industry to call everytime the customer has a truck leaving Miami (you know what days each customer uses a truck). Again, depending on the size of the customer, once, twice, etc.

You expect to get orders every time you call, of course not everytime you get orders but still you have to check on the customer, otherwie you lose opportunities and someone else will get the order anyway.

Standing Orders exist and it's the goal to have as many as you can but it's not easy to get and mantain them when the industry is price driven. I do have a percentage of my sales coming from S/O's.

Unless it's a millionaire contract, no formal commitments (contracts) are established for floral consumption. Of course when you establish a standing order the customer usually agrees to the terms and conditions.

Due to the high offer of flowers from around the world the customer prefer to simply not have any strings attached and buy at his / her own discresion whenever any needs arise, in other words, not everything they order is on standing order. this is what we call "open market" and that's what you try to get when you call.

When they have needs and have not received calls, they "shop around", call 5 or 10 importers and see who's cheaper. Unless it's something that requires special attention and price does not become an issue they go to specific sources.

All your advises make perfect sense but think they are applicable on a different environment.

It is in deed an unusual situation, I guess maybe I have complicated my point by going so deep into detail. My original question was, is there any kind of "educational material" for sales reps like me? - by JPHenao
JP, now, I understand! Thanks for the additional information. I don't know of any training that is available, but I did a search on selling commodities, and found this article, which I think hit on some great points in terms of overall strategy:

From the standpoint of the calls, all I can tell you is what I'd do. I'd prepare for each call by doing things like the following:
  • I'd get a chart showing what the customer has ordered over the past few weeks/months. Hopefully you could get that from your computer system. If not, I'd make a chart myself and identify what was ordered each time I called.
  • I'd review the chart to determine your strongest products for the customer. If they're buying on price, then it might be logical to assume that the things they order most often are the things you have a good price on.
  • I'd identify the special I could offer to compliment the order they may likely place.
When placing the call, after a brief chat (since they don't have much time), I'd sometimes start with the special I had to offer. Maybe something like: I've got this great "special-item" that would be great for you if you need to order more of our "main-product".

I'd also start some conversations asking them about the last order you filled for them. "How did those roses work out?" If there are problems, you'll find out and be able to address them. If the order was well-received, you've got the customer thinking about what a great supplier you are.

Sometimes, you could start with a referral to a past order. "We've been supplying you with a lot of "flower-type", and we've got some great ones in stock that we could easily get on your truck tomorrow."

As the article I referenced discusses, I'd think about what you can do to make your customer's life easier, then focus on those items. Would they be impressed if you knew when the last time was they ordered roses from you? Could you help them out by letting them know when you have an especially good price on a flower they purchase from you often?

Can you send them samples? Maybe some conversations could start with "I notice that you've never used our "flower-type". I'd like to send a dozen to go on the truck this week so you can see the quality we provide.

I'm sure there are a lot of other openings that would start the conversation without being boring.

I hope this helps. - by KSA-Mktg
Hi Kathleen

Thanks for the info. I will look into it. After all, it doesn't matter how advanced the sales world is, there are still segments like mine that can develop much more.

Thanks again. - by JPHenao
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