Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inboxes Of Gold

I and most other book sales reps send lists of books to hundreds of customers every week. If I slack off or get jammed up and don't send the usual volume I start getting emails, phone calls, and texts from customers asking for the lists, or asking if they have been inadvertently deleted from the mailing list or if something happened to me. Sometimes I do inadvertently drop a good customer from my mailing list, which only happens when the accounts are shuffled and it takes a while to put things back together, or the customer has asked to be put on vacation while they catch up with receiving. I then lose track of when to put them back on and, weeks later, get a woeful email asking why I have forgotten them.

Customers have routines that vary as much as their bookstores. Some place small orders every week and have us pack and hold until there is enough to ship economically. Some order one large order per year. Some want reorder lists as often as they want regular lists, some don't want to order the same title twice. Most fall somewhere between these extremes. It might be imagined that the few hot sellers on every list go very fast to the first few customers that place orders, but it doesn't work that way because one bookseller's hot title is another's pass.

And then there are the customers that never order from lists. They might order at shows, or only order when they visit the warehouse or when a sales rep visits them. They might not order unless they are called with the few titles or niches they are looking for. Most will say they would rather receive the lists than not because one never knows when one might have the urge to peek. There are even some who another bookseller recommended me to, who call and tell me I must send them the great lists their friend told them to buy from, and after a couple of acknowledgements and questions in the beginning, I don't hear from them again.

I am fine with all of the above. I have a very full schedule taking care of the customers that do respond. Plenty of those customers would not give me amazing marks for customer service during some unfortunate period or two during our relationships as I get piled under by my to-do stack and my feeble organizational skills fail to kick in 100%. On the other hand, I must confess to a certain infinitesimal amount of pique with those who just ignore all lists, occasionally ask for a list, ignore that one as well, and then march purposefully up to me at a trade show wanting to know why they are not getting the best of the best like so & so over there, indicating the back of the head of some unsuspecting buyer, busily sorting samples and jackets into stacks of yeses and nos. 

The worst part is that I know so many titles that would have been perfect for the concerned buyer. They came and went several times as other buyers ordered in their 3s and 10s and 60s and 100s, all from the same lists that sat in the esteemed bookseller's inbox without ever being opened, gradually silted over by layers of more important and urgent messages.

Figure out a way to get those gems out of your inbox and into your customers' hands. Maybe you need to give this work to another buyer or employee, maybe you need to ask for some other format. If you have trouble with Excel, ask for paper mail, fax, or other document format. The important thing is to stop missing all the great deals. Grow your margins and make your customers happy by mining the gold in your inbox.

No comments:

Post a Comment