ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Your Role in Today's Economy is Not to Increase Sales.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Monday, 15th February 2010
The emerging role of the sales professional today is not to increase sales.

Let me repeat that--- your role today is not to increase sales. Your role as 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 the last look, then that means somebody else is getting it. It's time to evaluate the relationship equity you have built with that account

Sales representatives are successful today 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 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. 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 accounts.

Key-identifying factors that will help you grow your sales territory and become "Supplier of Choice" include:

  • Understanding the value of planning and actually document the key actions necessary to meet specific objectives at specific accounts.††
  • Become professional with your planned presentations whether it is to an individual buyer or a group of customer decision makers. Perfect your 25-word elevator speech that clearly outlines your value proposition. Get it down pat for those opportunistic moments that may occur.††
  • Goals are a matter of course and they include more than just revenue and margin growth. Milestones should be established for target accounts to highlight progress toward specific objectives.††
  • No one likes record keeping and paperwork but the really successful sales professional understands the necessity and the value received in return for being methodical with their record keeping. (This does not include journalistic call reports that have little value beyond redundant diatribe)†
  • Time management should be forever on your mind and you need to continuously practice efficient time control.††
  • You've got to be Hunnnnggggrrrry! Hungry for knowledge to improve your skills and demonstrate enough curiosity that you don't wait for company sponsored seminars for education and training. Read, listen to tapes and finance your own self-improvement in addition to company programs.††
  • Don't chase orders, chase customers. Be willing to lose an order but fight aggressively to never lose a customer unless you need to prune your territory garden due to unacceptable profitability.††
  • Your objective on every sales call is to identify the customer's real needs, not to just take an order. Take pride in being a solution provider and demand creator instead of a demand fulfiller.††
  • †Understand that often a key to your success lies in your ability to educate the customer. This may range in form of business acumen to helping the customer understand real value. Become an expert at demonstrating the difference between price and cost.
Be Honest With Yourself

Ask yourself ----- Do I demonstrate these key characteristics? If not study the key factors. Practice on improving your skills. Take the information you have as a sales professional in your market and build unique solutions that solve your customer's problems even if those problems have nothing to do with selling them product. They can buy stuff from anyone. They will buy it from you to get the "out of the box" benefits.

Customers no longer spout off about quality products and reliable deliveries. That's a given. And, relationship equity today is still extremely important but it often becomes the ante to even play the game. Although all customers are trained to say, "Your Price is too High," if you find their pain and provide solutions you can become "Supplier of Choice".

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
  • Productivity
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Inventory management
  • Employee turnover
In today's turbulent economy 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, improve productivity or reduce costs. You no longer just sell yourself and everything falls into place.

Customers are smarter and more educated today; market dynamics demand this. 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 and 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 their business (and it won't just be about price).

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.†

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