Material Handling Myths, Monsters & Secrets

Hello, my name is Rhonda Remer, and being the newest addition to the SJF project sales team, I’d like to offer some inside perspective from the trenches. I have worked in online sales & support for 6 years and just recently started working in client project sales about four months ago. In my short time in direct sales, I have uncovered 2 simple truths. The first one, I had to learn. The second is a truth that I’d like my customers to learn.

First and foremost though, project sales is harder than it looks. And by hard, I mean time consuming. Don’t get me wrong, the lead opportunities are great at SJF. There’s no shortage of customer interest & quote requests. Whether it’s by phone or email, when I do speak with customers they don’t always know how to put into words what they envision in their minds. The back and forth translation of needs & wants takes a lot of time. There are days where I feel like a child on an Easter egg hunt with an eye patch and a broken hip. It’s not that we don’t have the equipment, (we have loads of equipment!) it’s just that with used equipment, having the exact material at the exact time a customer needs it can be a challenge.

My background is 28 years of administrative training & customer service, so when I say I take care of my customers, I. Take. Care. Of. My. Customers. For the most part, Material handling purchasers are nice folk; polite and courteous and fun to talk to, so it’s not a problem to provide timely communications, quick order processing, after-order follow-up…all things a good CSR knows how to do. Now, imagine my alarm when I did just that on my largest order to date, only to find that the vendor had shipped 20% of the order in error. Be still my heart.

This leads me to the first truth:

TRUTH 1) You can do everything right, and there still may be something that goes wrong.

This is the number one reason for customer follow-up. If you can catch errors quickly, you can start on a solution before the customer even knows there was a problem, and you can then begin to make it right. In my case, thankfully the customer was more than understanding and the vendor was very prompt in rectifying the error.

I am a list maker. I have the mother of all worksheets that’s currently tracking all of my progress, current orders, lost orders, pending issues, etc. I analyze this list often to ferret out hidden trends. I was just looking over my lost orders recently and I found the second truth – this one is for my customers.

TRUTH 2) It’s going to be sold if you don’t nab it now.

On a daily basis, we have thousands of dollars of pallet racking being put onto trucks and shipped to customers across the United States. Used teardrop pallet rack is a HOT COMMODITY. When I tell my customers, “These will not be here long. They are hard to find used and are a very popular size,” I expect them to heed my warning…but they don’t always. They think I’m using a sales ploy, and several have had to find out the hard way that it’s the cold hard truth.

For example, one day I had three signed quotes. I had to re-address each one because the customers took too long to return a signed order. When I finally did receive the orders, the material I had quoted (1 day prior) was already gone. It’s times like these that I’m grateful SJF has a lot of other racking to offer in substitution. In the end, I found equivalent racking for each of these customers, and all were happy, however I still find many customers want a quick quote and are not so quick to give you a final decision.

Although I’ve had some hiccups along the way, I’m convinced that I made the right decision moving into sales. My days at SJF fly by at warp speed, and I’m constantly learning new things. I look forward to continuing to work with clients both large & small. If you have some feedback or other things you think I should know about Material Handling Sales or sales in general, please post a comment below.

Rhonda Remer

4 thoughts on “Material Handling Myths, Monsters & Secrets”

  1. Hey R – that’s a great set of lessons for both sides of the sales equation. I know you’ll keep the customers happy, always do the best for them, and you’ll do great in your role. Keep smiin’


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