The Ride Along

As you know, everybody is into MPS now – uniform companies, water providers, office furniture, retail office supply locations, wide format companies, every single OEM, VARs, and finally the big print production houses. In 12 months, there has been record growth. It’s bound to level off.  It always does.

Well, this time is not like the last time. As markets, industries, and niches mature, they don’t slowly fade away, retiring like an old war horse into the pastures. Today, industries simply cease to exist in the blink of an eye.

What now? Begrudgingly, you know the answer: Quarterly Business Reviews.

I dislike the title “Quarterly Business Review” almost as much as “solution selling.” Everybody from the standard copier rep to the run of the mill AFLAC agent is scheduling  Quarterly Business Reviews. And still, client face time is usually a good thing.

But how can you stand out?  Get your upper management/ownership out with you – that’s how.  I know it can be a pain, but sometimes upper management can be used for more than generating spreadsheets.

Here are my rules for bringing executives in the field:

Get 3 appointments.  Have a one page schedule printed and hand it to her in the car on your way out. This way you control the first discussion of the day. Include an hour for lunch on the schedule.

Bring her to your best accounts, not necessarily the biggest. If your leadership wants to be put in front of C-Levels in Fortune 500 clients only, take her to that church account you have–Humility.

Brief your ride-along not only on the challenges, successes, and account status. Also review with her your company’s MPS procedures – from signatures to the current situation and growth potential.

This is important: introduce her in a professional, formal manner.  I know you will, but it is important your client understands this is a special event, not the norm.

Make her buy lunch. Goes without saying.

Gain agreement how the meeting will be conducted. Define her role as one of “‘visionary,” talking big picture, business concepts. Not how many toner cartridges were shipped last month.

Debrief after each meeting and critique her delivery/content.  Be ready for whatever criticism comes your way.

Have a handwritten thank-you note prepared and in the car for your executive to sign after each appointment.  Drop it in a snail-mailbox at the end of the day.

We’ve all done QBRs and had managerial ride-alongs. They can be painful, but with just a bit of preparation, a pinch of panache and a healthy ego, you can make them fun and productive.