4 Never Sell Anything

“He’s liked, but he’s not—well liked.”

—Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

Jack, Annette, and I had entered the dark room. Several of them. We had found our place in this world and did all we could to live up to the promises we believed Garden Fresh should stand for—to be the best products in our categories. We had stumbled into finding our first Holy Grail, then searched and found others.

All that resulted in rapid growth. During the first six years of our partnership, in fact, we grew at an average annual rate of 50 percent.

That put us at roughly the size of our competitors, in the neighborhood of $50 million in annual sales.

What put us so far ahead of our competitors, resulting in Garden Fresh eventually growing to twice their average size, to $110 million in annual sales?

It was our unique, almost unheard of approach to market, an approach in which we resisted the temptation to enter into mere transactional relationships with our accounts. One in which we simply offered our products and they simply submitted purchase orders.

An approach that on the surface seems irrational. Just like salsa from Detroit itself.

It was an approach in which we committed to never selling anything.

Instead, we strove for something deeper. More genuine. More authentic.

We strove to become true strategic partners with our customers.

To us being true strategic partners meant we were not just in business to sell whatever we happened to be making. Rather, we existed to grow ...

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