Sales tip: Be persistent when helping customers

Clint Maxwell, an Independent out of Texas, knew very little about tools, but fortunately, he wasn't shy about asking his customers what the tools do.

He found most of them were willing to help him, thanks largely to their loyalty to uncle, who he purchased the route from. One customer, for instance, told him to tape his business card on all toolboxes he sold as a way to promote the business. Some customers have taught him how to fix tools.

The customers told him they liked Maxwell's uncle and would keep buying from his if he served them well. Maxwell's uncle had a reputation for being fair and helpful; he would make an emergency delivery when asked. He realized he needed to do the same thing to keep his customers satisfied.

Fulfilling his uncle's reputation for attentive service wasn't easy. From day one, Maxwell made it a point to respond immediately to all customer requests for tools. Meeting these requests, he learned, takes perseverance. Finding a specific product in a catalog, on a website or over the phone can take 45 minutes, with no guarantee of a sale. But Maxwell realized that responding to requests is a key to establishing credibility. "Guys (customers) have learned I can find things," he says. This is something that not all of his competitors are willing to do.

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