Sales Success is not about Increasing Sales.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Monday, 4th June 2007
Sounds crazy doesn't it?

But, remember the emerging role of the sales professional today is not to increase sales. Let me repeat that--- The sales person's role today is not to increase sales. The role of a sales professional today is to systematically and consistently increase the number of customers who choose you to be their #1 supplier........

You must become----THE SUPPLIER OF CHOICE---- which means you always get-----THE FIRST CALL----and THE LAST LOOK!

Don't make the rookie mistake of thinking that your customers don't give last looks. If your customer doesn't give you last look. That means somebody else is getting it. It's time to evaluate the relationship equity you have built in that account.

Sales representatives that achieve success today are successful because they gain the majority of their targeted customers business. They manage the relationship and continuously build relationship equity. That doesn't mean they operate with the old lone wolf mentality chasing every order and doing everything under the sun for the customer. They are successful because they take full advantage of all the resources their company has to offer. Transactions and promos flow through a managed relationship that involves their entire team. They also dedicate a specific amount of their time to new account development and penetration of those accounts with high potential rather than over providing service functions to existing maintenance accounts.

Personal Buddy Calls are limited and they focus on providing solutions regardless of the relationship to the products they carry. They have become "Total Solution Providers".

The formula for success is simple:

Customers will pay plenty, if you can reduce their "PAIN"

This is the evolving role of 21st century field sales professionals.

Find out what the customer's problems are and where they are in pain.

Look at it from their point of view, not yours.

Customers no longer spout off about quality products and reliable deliveries. That's a given. Although all customers are trained to say "Your Price is to High", if you find their pain and resolve it, price is not an issue.

Some Pain Examples

  • Recruiting & retention of employees
  • Training of employees
  • Getting and keeping customers
  • Emergency crises
  • Business management skills
  • Constant stream of new competitors
  • Profitability
  • Inventory management
It's about Value

Today it's not about the features and benefits of your product. It's about value and how your customers are going to make a profit. You no longer just sell yourself and everything falls into place. Today, relationships are still very important but they are the ante to play. Customers are smarter and more educated. You must bring every resource your company has into play and leverage those resources to create competitive advantage.

Learn to really listen to your customers. Let them talk and when there seems to be a pause in the conversation resist the temptation to start talking again. Chances are good that the customer has more to say. The quieter you are the more they will tell you. Listen long enough with a few strategically placed questions and the customer might just tell you exactly how to gain his business. (And it won't just be about price)

Effective Sales Management

Effective sales management is also a key ingredient. It includes planning sales growth, executing account strategies and using objective feedback to continuously improve performance and drive accountability. This means an effective sales process and structure must be in place which includes metrics, training and resources to support and improve sales performance. This means the sales manager must be skilled at coaching and mentoring.

Effective sales management is not rocket science: "You measure results but you manage the activities that create those results." Although the transition from activities to results can be almost immediate in demand fulfillment activities, it can become an extended period for demand creation and account development.

Consequently, managing results is like closing the barn door after the horses are out of the barn. It's just too late. The results you measure today are often created by activities that took place weeks and even months previously. To effectively manage sales it is imperative to define the specific activities necessary to drive results.

By then managing those activities, success becomes much easier to achieve. Sales management must become skilled at helping the sales force develop their territory plans, select their target accounts and create individual account strategies that will increase penetration and increase market share. The key is defining the activities necessary on an account by account basis that will create the desired results.

Sales Strategists

As today's sales environment leans toward a more multifaceted atmosphere, salespeople must become strategists with a plan. This plan requires more knowledge about the business, better relationships and better solutions. Once you have accumulated this knowledge, utilize it.

Develop your penetration strategy around the customer's pains. What challenges do they face on a day to day basis? How do they make money? Where can you provide value, increase their ability to make profit. (This does not include price reductions). Employ all the resources in your company that are necessary to accomplish your growth objectives.

Nowadays, salespeople must be problem solvers able to generate solutions for customers in their time of need. Therefore, they must possess a great deal of knowledge about your customers' business. They must actually define what those needs are because the customer may not know, nor take the time to explain if they do know. Customers want you to have the knowledge and intelligence to comprehend and analyze their problems before showing up at their door. Customers will listen and buy from the salesperson that finds the "pain" and takes it away."

That means sales people have to become "Sales Strategists".

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com. Don't forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.www.ceostrategist.com
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