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It's easy to confuse expectations with values. At least according to Jim Ambrose it is. Think about it this way. I have a
restaurant I go to at lunch because it's close. Lousy service; food's OK. And I expect that, says the president of BranchManagerCEO.com. "The manager always asks me if they met our expectations today, and I say yeah,
you certainly did. The food was lousy and the service was lousy; that's what I expect. But it's close so I keep going back."
Ambrose values the proximity and is willing to accept the mediocrity of everything else because of it. However, if a restaurant were to open up in the same area with better food and better service, he wouldn't think twice about switching.
The same is true in distribution. If you're comfortable with the service you provide because your client base says you're meeting their expectations, you may be missing opportunities to enhance the relationship by uncovering customers' values.
Maybe they value being able to source from as few people as possible, but don't expect to be able to get what they need at one place. Or, maybe they have just relied on always getting some things from one place and didn't even think about looking elsewhere - due to their expectations.
In his book Cracking Accounts, Ambrose uses commodity items such as fuses to demonstrate how little things may go a long way toward filling those values. Showing that you understand what your customers value can go a long way toward making sure you're the one grabbing share from your competitors, rather than the other way around.
Ambrose was featured in an interview in the latest issue of MDM: Now Is the Time for Sales Discipline. In it, he tells me that now is a great time to retrain and reenergize your sales force to find new ways to gain market share.
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