Wow. I feel like Lloyd Bridges in “Airplane.” I definitely picked the wrong week to discontinue the Hot Question in the Navigator Newsletter. Yesterday’s article on Fred provoked quite a few questions emailed to me, and I’d have had enough material for a couple of months. But alas, the Hot Question is no more, but those questions need to be answered. So let’s answer them here, and call them “Fred Inspired Questions.”
This was the most common: Troy, are you saying that we should only sell and accept business from our Freds? No. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that those accounts that we pursue with dogged determination, the accounts we chase, emphasize in our prospecting – those accounts should be our Freds. Accept business from acceptably profitable accounts, but don’t put the same effort into them that you put into a Fred. I’m constantly amazed at the misallocation of time and resources that I see out there. Two years ago I was in a client’s sales meeting in Wisconsin, and the SALES MANAGER was discussing an account that she had been chasing for over two months. The account was tiny – so small that it shouldn’t have even been accepted, much less pursued, and it only would have accounted for 15% of one week’s expectation from a rep – but there she was, explaining her sales methodology, chasing it like it was a Fred. Pure stupidity. If you have salespeople doing that, STOP.
Is it possible to have multiple Freds? Yes. I do, in fact. I have my Freds, and then I have a second type of Fred – the executive directors of trade associations that have a high percentage of Freds as members, and that are likely to book me to speak in front of them. If you chase multiple verticals of equal profitability, for instance, you’ll have different Freds for different salespeople. The key is to make sure that all of your Freds are your MOST DESIRABLE customers.
You said that a big portion of being a Fred is attitudinal. How can you learn that except through selling efforts? This is the key. Many times, you can’t. That’s why it’s important to develop a quick qualifying process….and I’m getting ahead of next week’s article. Sometimes you can find out the attitude of a Fred by the types of articles that they read of the events that they attend.
Who should be involved in choosing a Fred? Well, first of all, Freds choose themselves – they rise to the top of your company’s profitability rankings. That said, this is an important enough topic that all key managers and the salespeople should be involved in defining your Fred. If all the key managers are involved in the process, then all the key managers will be on the same page – and when the sales department says, “This is a Fred,” everyone knows that that means to the company.
Have you ever had a Fred that was actually named Fred? Yes, I have, and it always gave me a little chuckle.
There are more, but most of them centered around how to find Freds, how to sell to them, etc., and if I answered that here it would spoil the next column. Here was the second most common:
Troy, what’s your Fred? This is the one I debated over the most. Telling everyone what my Fred is would discourage non-Fred business, and that’s the last thing I want to do. Truth be told, few companies could survive, thrive, and grow without a lot of non-Freds surrounding some really good Fred business. My company is included in that. Still, I don’t like to be asked a question and not answer it, and my Fred – and my methodology for getting there – can add a lot to your knowledge of this issue.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make you work for it. I’ve put another blog post up entitled, “My Fred.” However, this one is password protected. When you click on the headline you will be asked to put in a password. Your password is TROYSFRED. Put that in, and you can read who my Fred is, and how I got there. CLICK HERE.