Life as a Distributor – Definitely a Relay Race
By Richard Stienstra
President, BRIDGE® Printing & Promotional Products, Inc.
I have discovered over the course of my career as a Print Distributor that what we do to cross the finish line for our clients is definitely a relay race. We depend on our vendor partners to cross the finish line for our clients and provide them with a valued product and experience. They run the anchor leg in the race and we depend on them to finish strong. They are the last ones to handle the baton but certainly not the first.
The passing of the baton is one of the most critical aspects of running a relay race. Without the clean transfer from one runner to the next the outcome of the race is severely challenged. One cannot expect the anchor man to run a great leg of the race if the baton has been dropped along the way. That realization made me think of how do we run the first legs of the race for our clients and pass the baton along.
In the first leg are we really listening as sales people to what the needs and wants of our clients are? Are we focusing on what really matters to cross the finish line for our clients? Asking great questions will help us deliver great solutions. Do we have a clear understanding of order specs, budget and timely delivery? If we do, off goes the baton to order entry.
This next leg of the race concerns itself with getting everything in place to produce what the client wants and needs. Clear instructions are developed and communicated to the client so that there is a clear understanding and expectation of what is going to be delivered. Perhaps samples and proofs must be approved. Quality assembly of the specs and requirements of the order help us to have a quality handoff to our manufacturing partners. This handoff is critical for our manufacturing partners to run an effective anchor leg of this race. You get the point.
The quality of how each of us runs our leg of the race and passes the baton cleanly to the next runner in line impacts the quality of the experience of our mutually valued clients. If we expect the next runner in line to have a great run we must run our leg well and pass the baton so that next in line does not have to look back but can run full steam ahead. If we all do our part successfully, our clients end up winners.
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