The Key To Surviving In Sales: Constant Contact

Being a stranger to a customer will lead to them moving on to someone else. Johnstone Supply Regional Sales Manager Darrell Sterling discusses why customer contact must be continuous, and come in a variety of ways.

The words constant contact are synonymous with a professional e-mail campaign, but to me these words stand for something more profound and significant. Constant contact is literally how I survive as a salesman. I would not be able to pay my bills or take care of my family without the use of constant contact. My boss may sign my paychecks but the money comes from my customers. If I were a stranger to my customers or someone who only occasionally stopped by to visit they would simply do business with another supply house.

Check out our webinar - A Guide to Efficiency for the Modern Salesperson

Customers tend to purchase from a variety of wholesale supply houses. The prevailing thought is you don’t want to relay to heavily on just one supplier. Customers like to spread their purchases around. You just might be the supplier whom they buy their major equipment and installation supplies from but what you’re not aware of is your customer also has a small service department and they purchase their supplies from another vendor. If you implemented a systematic method of contacting your customers on a regular bases you would have learned about their service department and you would have given yourself the chance to earn that business. I have made charts to help me stay focused and to help me track the various ways that I want to constantly contacting my customers — see example below.

If I changed my tactics and decided to just send my customers a faceless e-mail campaign I am sure I would only see a trickle of business at the very best. I believe constant contact must come in a variety of ways. The different forms of contact are the key to unlocking the hidden potential of your account base. You might think that you have a mature account base and that you already have all of your customers business but the truth is your customers probably have more business to offer you that you are not even aware of. You might be surprised at how much more can be obtained through the use of a constant contact program.

Customers Name

Pricing Programs

Visit w/ Vendors

Monthly Email Campaigns

On Site Visits Promoting New Products

Technical Training



















The few examples given are by no means the only ways in which I contact my customers but you can see how I can hold myself accountable by designing a chart that tracks my various forms of contact.

The key to constant contact is to bring value to your customers on a regular basis. The goal is to have your customers looking forward to your stopping by to see them. You want your customers to say, “Oh good here comes Darrell, I wonder what he has for me today?”

If you're not bringing what your customers considers valuable information, you’re more likely to hear your customers saying, “Sorry Darrell, I don't have any time for you today.”

I rarely stop by unannounced to see my customers. I always call ahead and set up appointments. I don’t want to waste my customers time or my own so I call ahead to see if he or her is interested in a new truck stock program, technical training, visiting with a key vendor, or being introduced to a new product. The reason for the visit has to hit home for your customer so they will happily set aside valuable time out of their day to meet with you.

It is important to consistently show your customers the wide variety of products that you offer. The battle is won and lost with your ability to win mind share with your customers. I want my customers to think of me for all of their HVAC needs, not just for one product category. If I am selling service parts I work hard to constantly inform and educate them on my equipment line. I do the reverse if I am selling them major equipment I will instead highlight our array of service parts. The goal is to inform your customers about everything you have to offer. I don’t want my customers to limit me to only supplying certain products. I have found that by constantly contacting my customers with various value propositions I am able to win more market share.

I need to know my customers business better than they do. The only way that is possible is through a constant contact program and being an active listener. You could meet with your customer every day but still not have a deep understanding of how their business runs if you're not actively listening to what is being said. I cannot stress how important it is to listen.

The way to broaden your business is to continually offer new and different products. I make it a point to supply my contractors with updated price sheets for a variety of products. I also find it valuable to bring training to my customers, as an example I will hold a soldering and brazing class before air-conditioning season or a basic furnace installation and maintenance class before the heating season begins. The point is I am in contact with my customers providing value. The goal is to spend less time at my desk and more time at my customer’s location learning about the challenges that they are facing.


You can open up new revenue streams by simply being at the right place at the right time. I don't just get lucky despite of what my staff thinks, I create my own luck. The truth is the only thing you ever really earn is what you deserve, so get out there and provide value, listen, and learn. Believe me your business will grow.

More from Darrell Sterling: How To Give Online Customers What They Want

More in Operations