October 21, 2009
Tips for Business Owners about Sales and Sales Professionals
more than $200 million in sales revenue.
I’ve been lucky in my life having worked around some of the more successful and talented
sales professionals in the country. During the 1990s my sales force of 650 sold more than
$80 million a year in recurring revenue for telecom services. Since 2003, my company has
averaged a 17-to-1 return on investment for every dollar our clients have spent with us.
Based on these successes, here are some tips for business owners about sales,
salespeople, and just plain selling:
1. Dogs have to like the dog food
Here’s an old sales story: A national sales manager is at a meeting with his sales
managers from across the country. They have recently launched a new brand of dog food
and the sales numbers are terrible. He is ranting and raving about how much marketing
has been done, the dollars they’re spending, and no one is selling the new dog food. He
asks the group what’s going on! And a small voice in the back of a very quiet room speaks
up, “I don't think dogs like the way it tastes.”
For success, start with your product. Make it taste really good. Too many business owners
refuse to accept that a sales problem may, in fact, be a bad product or service. Honestly
evaluate your products and services as well as your competition. Make yours better,
faster, more affordable. Then go sell it!
Your sales staff will be more productive and your customers will be more loyal.
2. Most salespeople are like plumbers
Plumbers make more than many other professionals. You know why? Because they do the
stuff other people don't want to do. In my experience, 75 percent of salespeople are in
sales not because they are trained and passionate sales professionals, but because they
will do the stuff other people don’t want to do: they will pick up the phone and make cold
calls. You don’t have to be good at sales to make cold calls any more than you have to be
good at plumbing to clean out a septic tank. Just make sure that when it comes to your
salespeople, you hire the professionals that are passionate about their work; otherwise,
you may as well hire a plumber.
3. Great salespeople work for high compensation
The average outside sales rep in Colorado earns around $58,000 a year before benefits.
If you’re going to pay an average wage, expect average performance, which in sales
means you should hire a plumber. If you want top performance, offer top pay.
4. You can’t hire commission only salespeople to sell your product
Commission only sales representatives must have the opportunity to make $1,500 a week,
every week within their first month with your company. And they need to be paid quickly.
Can your product support this? No. Stop thinking about hiring cheap sales help, and start
thinking about how to make your product irresistible to buyers. Once you have an
irresistible product you may be able to hire a commission only sales force because
plumbers will be able to give it away.
5. The number one factor in achieving your sales goals is …
… a really great product or service. Period.
6. Most good salespeople are egotists
This is true. If you do not know how to manage egotistical personalities, don't. Hire an
experienced sales manager or a therapist to manage them. Some of the best salespeople I
have ever worked with were pains to be around. They whined, they were always late, they
didn't come to mandatory training, and they didn’t play nicely with others. What they did
was sell. All they needed was a cheer leader, not a manager.
Most sales managers only know how to manage plumbers because that’s what most
salespeople are. Plumbers show up for meetings, fill out the reports, and struggle to make
minimum sales; but they always have their shovel with them. The problem is you may be
tempted to hire plumbers, because they’re easier to manage and will fit in with your
company culture better. So if you are going to hire and manage plumbers, make sure you
have a product that is irresistible to buyers.
I think I’ve made my point. Most sales programs are usually handed off to plumbers to sell.
Your only chance for great sales success is to spend a great deal of time making your
product or service
irresistible to buyers. Trust me, in most cases, this is far more effective and a better return
on investment than actually building a professional sales force with top notch
management. Why? Because if your product is really good, you’ll attract the best sales
This leads to my final point for today:
7. Great salespeople aren’t hired, they choose the company they want to work for
Given this, your job as a business owner is to build a service or product that is irresistible.
Once you have that, your salespeople will become superstars (and you can throw the
July 25, 2009
Am I An Idiot? What’s Missing from your Marketing and Web Site
In our very focused world of sales and marketing, most consultants or marketing firms
start with the basics. How well each is thought through and implemented has more to do
with the success of a marketing program than almost* anything else.
Those basics generally being:
* Define the target
* Create an irresistible offer (But wait there’s More! )
* Define the best ROI tactics to deliver the message ( Internet marketing, Radio, Direct
mail, Trade shows, and a bunch more)
* Track measure and adjust
Yet, even with all of the above done well, there are two pieces that can sink a campaign
faster than two rocks tied together. And the first is the BIG one.
Start with your service or product. Ask this question: What can I do to my product or
service that would make my target prospects say,” I would be an idiot not to to buy this”. It’s
not just the offer, its the actual service itself.
A quick example. In 1998 I was trying to sell a superior on line email service to large
companies. The challenge was enormous. New product, a competitor that was offering the
basic service for 80% less (a market share grab) and no real sales infrastructure. So, we
would call C level executives in I.T as a company they were not aware of, a reputation as a
consumer based service, and a price 8 times higher than the market rate (I should mention
it was worth the difference, but you know how that goes).
So, we came up with two solutions, both had good ROI for the company and had the ” I
would be an idiot” factor. Within the year we won three major national accounts, United
Airlines, Mazda America, and Register.com. I should mention that only one of the two new
ideas worked, and that is all part of testing an measuring.
If you want to hear what the best idea was, call me. Because in most cases you can do it
your self in one form or another. (If your struggling with sales right now your behavior
would be idiotic not to call).
Now, as for what the second missing link is in marketing plans, and this can increase your
conversions from most media (including your web site)
by 10% to 30%, It’s your marketing materials, and especially you web site. Most
companies fail to appeal to 50% to 75% of buyers. Your marketing materials needs to be
designed to appeal to the 4 (or 5, what ever you are comfortable with) primary personality
types you sell too. Chances are very high your site is developed by and designed for only
25% of the buying population. Ever meet some one who is not much into the web? People
think their odd, I think its because we don’t communicate in their language on line, and
therefore lose their attention.
In the briefest form I can communicate, here are the four primary styles you need to some
how incorporate in your marketing:
Summary- Credible- convert
Details and facts, no selling I will call you.
Color and pictures. woo me to call
You’re safe here. Call when comfortable.
And , you need to package all that in a logical, easy to navigate web site. Easy? I think the
best way to accomplish this is to use different marketing messages targeted to each
personality with landing pages or landing mini sites with in your site developed for them.
Sound like a lot of work? It is. Is a 10% to 30% conversion increase worth a lot of work?
Call me if you want to explore this concept with your site. We don’t do many web sites, but
we can work with many highly qualified, experienced, creative, and team focused
companies who do sites really well.