Over dinner I was given my itinerary for the week. At quick glance I saw we weren’t spending much time together and no time was allocated to discuss how to expand distribution, but I wasn’t going to question him. Thought there must be a reason.
Here was my itinerary…
Day 1: Work with Logistics Team… “wear your Levis”
Day 2: Meetings with Customer Support & Hardware / Software Eng.
Day 3: Customer visits with sales team lead
Day 4: One hour meeting with Executive Director
Day 5: Wrap-up meetings with executive sales team
On Day 1 I unboxed and tested five computers… four of the five were DOA. Upon returning to the hotel I called our VP of Manufacturing to report what I found.
On Day 2 I heard more about poor quality and lack of timely responses to technical questions.
On Day 3 I visited current installations and made prospect calls with their number one sales person. He didn’t speak much English, but we understood the art of selling so we communicated.
On Day 4 the Executive Director asked what I learned…
- Confirmed there were design issues and computers were becoming damaged in transit… manufacturing was expediting corrections.
- Saw specific examples of additional quality problems and technical support issues… manufacturing and customer service has received details on what needs to be corrected..
- Provided a hand drawn organization chart (with names & titles)… they don’t make these available to so he was impressed that I figured it out.
- And last, I asked him to double his monthly orders “Japanese-style”.
On Day 5 my meeting with the executive sales team was delayed… seems the Executive Director doubled our monthly order that morning ($500,000) and sales team had been told to get selling!
- By taking time to get dirty I was able to learn first hand why they weren’t selling… it wasn’t them, it was our poor quality and customer service.
- By listening and taking care of problems, before talking about increasing sales, I built trust… and with trust came rapid expansion and 65% of the Japanese market.