How Can I Get More Sales
By Peter L DeHaan
every day, someone asks me, “How can I get more sales?”
In fact, for my clients and prospects, increasing sales is
usually a primary concern. Rarely does anyone tell
me that their company is making all the sales they want. I
wish they would ask me easier questions, like “How can I improve
quality,” “How can I increase revenue,” or “How can I reduce
turnover?” All of these I have successfully dealt
with, but the sales issue is a bit trickier. It
seems that people are looking for a quick fix, a simple strategy.
It’s as if they are expecting me to say, “Invest X dollars
in Y process to produce Z sales.”
alas, there is no magic secret. If there were –
and I knew it – I would start a sales and marketing business.
My clients would merely tell me their sales goals for the month
and I would fill their order. But it is not that
simple. Consider the following list:
tactics have a proven record of producing sales in many instances
Unfortunately, these same methods have been repeatedly
demonstrated to be total failures. Campaigns that
have consistently generated high sales numbers for one organization
have proven to be colossal flops in others. Therefore,
it is not the strategy that is important, but what surrounds that
strategy. Here then, is the ultimate – yet
elusive – formula for sales success:
+ attitude + execution + management = sales success
This is the critical element in the formula. Without
the right people in place, nothing else matters. This
starts with finding the right person for the job. Over
the years, I have hired many sales people. Some
worked out, but many didn’t. (My
main problem was that I was reluctant to pay enough to attract the
is true for all candidates is even more valid for sales applicants:
you see them at their very best during the interview. In
fact, even mediocre salespeople know that they must give their best
sales performance during the interview. If they
can’t convincingly sell themselves to you, how can they possibly
sell your service to someone else? To cut through
all of this, I have a few key questions I like to ask sales
much did you make at your last job?
If they made six figures, but can only expect half
that at your firm, they are unlikely to work out. They
will be unhappy, develop a negative attitude, and leave as soon as a
better paying job comes along. Conversely, if they
barely cracked the poverty level at their last job, they may be out of
their league to produce at the level you expect. Ideally,
their prior compensation should be 5 to 25% less then what you
expect them to make with you.
much would you like to make at this job?
The response to this is most telling. Why?
Because if it is unreasonably high, they won’t be satisfied
working for you. On the other hand, if it is lower
then what you are prepared to pay, then they will start coasting once
they hit their target compensation. Again, you are
looking for a salary expectation that is consistent with what you can
deliver, but is still motivating to them.
you like to work straight commission?
I don’t advocate that anyone be paid straight
commission, however this question is designed to throw them off track
and see how they respond. To make this work, you
can’t ask the question directly, but need to back into it.
If they are at all good with sales, they will have already
regaled you with their accomplishments, assured you that they will be
your best sales person ever, and promised they will produce at a level
beyond your wildest expectations. And, if they have
moxie, they may even say you’d be foolish not to hire them or
suggest your company will fail without them. (Yes,
I have been told this – many times.) Given all of
this, they assert that you must pay them top dollar.
this point, you are in a position to say, “I don’t normally offer
this, but based on your track record and past performance, I think
you’re worthy of special consideration. I suggest
that we consider a compensation plan where you will be highly rewarded
for your results and given an open-ended opportunity to exceed your
compensation goals.” Then pause, lean forward,
and confidentially whisper, “How would you like to work for straight
watch if they can quickly and smoothly react to an unexpected turn of
events. Next, you want to see how they retreat from
their prior boasting. Often a more realistic
picture emerges. Lastly, you will quickly get a
true idea of what they expect for base pay and how much they are
willing to put on the line in the form of commissions, incentives, or
the event that they are shocked or hurt by this question, simply
apologize and indicate that, based on what they were saying, you
thought this idea might appeal to them.
Having the right sales staff, however, is just the beginning.
They also need to have the right attitude. How
many times have you seen salespeople talk themselves into a bad month?
The thinking goes like this, “Last August was bad.
I wonder if August is always bad? I better
brace myself for a bad month.” It becomes a
self-fulfilling prophecy and they have a bad month.
how many times has a sales person said something like, “I don’t
set any appointments for Monday because everyone is always too
busy.” Then they add Fridays to the list because
prospects are focused on wrapping up their week. The
first thing in the morning doesn’t work, nor the end of the day.
Before and after lunch is bad, too. I once
had a salesman use this logic and he actually concluded that he could
only successfully sell on Tuesday and Thursday in the mid-afternoon.
It should surprise no one that he sold nothing and his time
with the company was a record in brevity.
self-defeating attitude is negativity. Consider,
for example, the salesperson who says, “Direct mail? That
won’t work!” And of course, with that attitude,
it won’t. Or how about, “That didn’t work
last time and it’s not going to work now!”
are they willing to try new things? If they are
open to new ideas
and plans, then they have a much greater chance of success than if
they are closed-minded. Strangely, all
too many salespeople would rather continue to do what has failed in
the past than to try something new.
Closely linked to attitude is the proper execution. In
fact, without the right attitude, successful execution is impossible.
I have seen ideal marketing plans flop because of poor or
haphazard execution. Conversely, I have seen the
most ill-conceived and contrived strategies succeed famously because
they were diligently, steadfastly, and consistently implemented.
simply, there needs to be a plan. The plan needs to
be meticulously followed. And those involved need
to be held accountable for their work. This brings
up the fourth element:
The glue that holds all this together is management.
Good management starts with hiring the right salespeople,
giving them excellent training, providing them with appropriate
compensation, and motivating them effectively. This
must be followed by a sound marketing plan and a supportive
environment in which to implement it. Lastly, sales
management means investing time, on an ongoing basis, to encourage,
observe, teach, and adjust what they do. Put more
succinctly, the right management keeps them on task and holds them
is nary a salesperson who can be truly successful without attention
and oversight. They need to be lifted up when they
are down and celebrated when they make a sale, held responsible for
their schedule and made liable for their results. This
takes considerable time and effort. As such, proper
sales management is not just one more hat to wear, but a full-time
managing salespeople is hard work. It takes time,
perseverance, determination, and dedication. But
then don’t all things that are worthwhile?
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