What are you really selling?

Post by 
Sergio DeSoto
Published 
May 8, 2017

What are you really selling?

I was in my early twenties exploring this crazy world of marketing when I became the marketing manager for a local block company. I had the experience of rote college study coupled with honors for my GPA but very little in the frame of hands-on expertise.  This block company had locations in Phoenix and Tucson; the corporate office positioned on the outskirts of the southern site was a historical site with old equipment on several acres.

The owner whose name was Max as a man who became a millionaire with very little to start with, he came across the country in his station wagon with his wife and six kids with eight hundred dollars in his pocket. He saw an opportunity in the world of construction due to his venture as a real estate agent. There was a lack of construction materials in the Phoenix market due to a reliance on local clay to formulate building blocks, Adobe Brick.

Max trucked in elements from New Mexico and opened the first set of concrete block companies in the southwest to which he sold for several million dollars. He then moved to Las Vegas and repeated the process. Once his non-compete expired, Max then came back and opened another set of plants, the operation I was to be charged with marketing and selling his products to clients who have been loyal to his competition. The competition he built and sold.

So here I am, walking in this colossal manufacturing yard surrounded by concrete blocks and pavers with this little old man named Max. Max was soft-spoken, dressed conservatively and always had a grand in cash stealthily hidden in his right front pocket.

The dust was imminent, and the sun was out in the Arizona summer. I had slacks and a tie on, sweating to death trying to absorb the names and characteristics of all of these pallets contents. 16x8's, 4x4's, Stretchers, Corners, Jambs, and partitions. My brain was frying. Literally!

Then we paused, next to this enormous concoction of a manufacturing giant that was hauling sand up a conveyor belt spitting out blocks on the other side and Max asked. " Sergio, what do I sell? What do I really sell? " I had to stop for a minute an ask myself if I was prepared to sound stupid, what kind of trick question is this! I softly and hesitantly uttered, umm blocks.

Max looked at me and gently laughed. He said, " Sergio I don't sell blocks, I sell machine time." He walked off leaving me alone to ponder the magnitude of what I handed by this brilliantly wealthy old man named Max.

I have gone on to ask that same question across the country at seminars, trade shows and alone with a client in their office. The results are more often than not, wrong.  When you stop to think this question through you will come to a place like Max Did that changes your entire mission, your focus, your reporting and your profit.

Here are a few examples that I have come across in the past fifteen years of doing this job.

What do you honestly sell?

The wrap industry: vehicle wraps, prints, signs, and banners.

Nope - Printer time.

The trampoline park industry; fun, food, exercise, birthday parties.

Nope - Capacity

The legal industry; expertise, stress reduction, solutions.

Nope - Billable Man Hours

The food industry; Food, fun, happy stomachs

Nope - Kitchen productivity, meals per hour served.

The Coffee Industry; Coffee, Sweets, comfort, uniqueness.

Nope -  Gallons out the door.

The Distribution Industry; stuff, products, variety.

Nope - Inventory turns.

You see when you ask this question and get a well thought out reply it lets you focus on running your business the right way. It aligns your efforts and brings attention to the core goal of keeping things going in the right direction.

How do I get; more gallons out the door, my capacity filled up, my inventory turning, my printer running full time. I have helped several people get phenomenal results by using this simple lesson taught to me by an old man named Max.

I dare you to try it yourself. Let me know what happens!

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