I Can Make a Roast Beef Sub Better Than Subway

Every now and then an idea comes to my mind that I want to share. For those of you in sales, I am sure you can relate. Today I was making a pitch to a benefits broker on our new business and value proposition when he said, “I am all set. I can do that.” We all have heard that “I am all set” response before, even though we know the person may not know what it is we are really selling.

This brought me to my latest business thought which I used with my son the other day. I asked him, “Can you make a roast beef sub?”. He said “yes”. Then I asked, “Can you make a roast beef sub better than Subway?” He said “yes”, again. Then I asked, “Can you outsell Subway?” His answer was “No way”. Making a sub is easy. Making one better than Subway is not real tough either. However, outselling Subway would be extremely difficult.

I have known the broker I was selling to today for 10 years. He has had 3-5 employees in his business since I have known him. Conversely, I have another broker friend who had 5 employees in his benefits business 10 years ago and today has 55. (with no acquisitions). From my seat, the first broker has always been saying he could “make the roast beef sub”, thinking that he is “checking the box’ of products and services he could offer. The second broker, however, was building his “Subway”. These two brokers approached their business everyday in a very different way yielding significantly different results. If you were to read their websites, they say they do the same thing, but they don’t.

There is a difference between stocking your shelves with tools and resources for your business and delivering them to market in an effective way. I will go out on the limb and say many in the benefits broker world have been stocking their shelves with the latest shiny object for the past 15 years. All the vendors know this and sell to brokers who want to make sure they have the latest and greatest. Then when something doesn’t sell, they say, “I tried that, and it didn’t work.” Well maybe it didn’t work for them.

Having dealt with “I am all set” at least 3000 times over my career, I know how to deal with objections. Maybe they are all set, and maybe not. I am certain that many people can “make the sub”, however, few can build a Subway. So, ask yourself, are you making subs or building a Subway? In my last business I will say I helped people stock their shelves. The difference this time is I am helping them build their Subway. There is a big difference.

2 responses to “I Can Make a Roast Beef Sub Better Than Subway

  1. Well said Joe..

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


  2. Hi Joe,

    Sounds like things are going in the right direction, keep me in mind.


    Startup seeks to re-imagine benefits, benchmark supply chain By Bruce Shutan / Employee Benefit Adviser

    Veteran HR tech entrepreneur Joe Markland is on a mission to recruit forward-thinking HR, payroll and benefit professionals for a new venture that could disrupt the employee benefits and human capital management space.

    Markland wants to do for benefits and HCM what Southwest Airlines did to commercial aviation. As part of that quest for greater operational efficiency and delivering a more personalized benefits experience to employees, he developed a checklist to eliminate 56 obstacles to success in everything from recruiting talent and tracking paid time off to purchasing and administering new benefit products or services.

    Chief culprits include disconnected technology, too many disparate systems that manage employee records, a failure to integrate multiple services into the organization as a whole and provide a single resource for fielding all employee inquiries, he says.

    In a nutshell, his strategic vision is to benchmark each part of the widening benefits and HCM supply chain, as well as pre-package best-in-class HR and benefit solutions. The approach also would ensure that per employee per month fees from one product or service to the next mirror one another so that no single part of the supply chain is overpriced.



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