IN THE TRENCHES: Separating the winners from the losers
by Ron Pelger | February 17, 2010
"If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?" --
It's no secret that I'm a New York Yankees fan. My family, friends and industry
associates have accepted my passionate madness every baseball season as a
devout supporter of the team.
Obviously, 2009 was a winning year, but it wasn't easy as I struggled through
many close games. I was totally exhausted from tossing my wife's couch
pillows at the TV screen. In the end, the Yankees came out the winners.
Thank goodness it was finally over. Besides, I ran out of pillows.
In all sectors of life there are winners and losers. The Yankees were winners
and the other 29 clubs were losers. It's about those who take home the top
prize and the money that matters. I never saw or heard of a celebration
parade for a losing team. Nobody ever pays any attention to who was second.
Just as in sports, the produce industry has winners and losers. But in this
tough produce arena, it's a radically different ballgame played on a very
challenging and rigorous field. There are companies that make money and
others that lose money. The companies that play the game using new
techniques and strategies will be better competitors in the marketplace.
Tapping into those sources will make them winners.
Then there are those who don't want to work too hard to get to the top. They
prefer everything to be easy for them. No rolling up any sleeves for these
guys. Sitting on Easy Street is what these players would rather do. That's why
they will never become winners. After all, it takes very little work to lose. Here
are some easy ways to lose in the produce business today:
* Don't change, just keep doing things the same way.
* Keep emphasizing price, forget about quality.
* Copy your competition, never be creative.
* Concentrate only on your company, overlook customers.
* Don't be flexible, stand your ground.
* Spend all you can, buy, buy and buy -- money is no object.
* Rely on your name, bypass quality and service.
* Be all things to everybody, always say "Yes."
People who have a positive vision and take responsibility for their work
usually achieve success. Those who rely on connections, schemes and
excuses usually end up as failures. Being determined is very necessary in
order to beat your competition to the punch. If you really want to land the
sale, you have to feel positive about being a winner.
The winner says, "Let's take action on it." The loser says, "Let's think about it
The winner says, "Let's make it better." The loser says, "It works now, why
The winner says, "Let's move forward on it." The loser says, "Let's wait a few
Losing is never fun. Does this sound familiar? "I can't understand it. Why did
they buy from our competitor? We gave them a nice long Power Point
presentation, showed some great photos of our product, joked around a bit
and took them to lunch."
Well, it just doesn't work that way these days. Those old humdrum
approaches are considered incomplete and unproductive today. Besides, they
eat up too much valuable time for the customer. You can't play by old rules
anymore. Companies that prefer to carry on with the same selling routine will
simply wind up on the losing end.
Here are some easy ways to win in the produce industry today:
* Communicate with customers and listen to what they want.
* Offer only the best quality produce. Sell up, not down.
* Deal honestly and reliably, it's the best policy.
* Be consistent and stick with a standard.
* Price for value but don't sell cheap and inferior product.
* Be a creative innovator. New items always get attention.
* Train employees and empower them with knowledge.
* Get out in the trenches. See the action and get your hands dirty.
It's easy to recognize winners. They seem to overcome obstacles with their
superlative attitude. When you have employees at your company who are
concerned about winning, it can be infectious and result in a very powerful
team. Great winning attitudes will come out on top all of the time.
Keep your company ahead of the curve. The produce trade is not as simple as
it used to be. Customers have redefined themselves and they want solutions
to help them win the game. Your ability to communicate with them will decide
if your company made a winning sales call or not.
(Ron Pelger is the owner of RONPROCON, a consulting firm for the produce
industry, and a member of the FreshXperts consortium of produce
professionals. He can be reached by phone at 775/853-7056, by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or check his web site at www.power-produce.com.)