On Thinking Inside the Box

With the upcoming Super Bowl, we’ll soon see again that at the risk of sometimes being routine, the most basic skills on a football field like blocking and tackling are key to surviving playoffs and winning championships. On the trading floor, challenges in the second half of 2018 offered stark reminders of importance of performing well on the fundamentals that are key to delivering effective service for our mills and customers – in all markets.

In his practical “Building Sales” column at LBM Journal, author Rick Davis has been exploring a number of contrarian sales concepts. This month, he emphasizes the value of concentrating on the “tried and true ways”, by thinking “inside the box”. He argues: “It’s so easy to boast about being an outside-the-box thinker.. but everyone should first master the great ideas inside the box. High-powered sales people don’t ignore the skills that made them successful early in their careers.” In the article, Davis expands on four rudimentary sales skills:

  • Success starts with a cold call – “the most essential skill in the box”
  • Count contacts – “the law of averages will help you grow your business”
  • Let people share their story – “the best and oldest inside-the-box idea of them all”
  • Promise and deliver the things you can do easily – “sell what you can deliver in the normal course of business”.

We might suggest that lumber traders naturally have the materials with which to build the box inside of which to think.

Outside-the-box thinkers are creative people who put out fires and believe they should resourcefully cater to the demands of high maintenance customers. Inside-the-box thinkers prevent fires and make promises within the confines of their company’s operational capability. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ concept. Just promise and deliver what you can.
– Rick Davis, Building Leaders

BMC National Meeting, Las Vegas (photo credit: Brad Taylor, Dakeryn Industries)

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