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Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to save at least $25,000

Twenty five thousand dollars is a lot of money to gamble with.  That is a very conservative figure when totaling up the cost of hiring and training a new sales rep.  With that kind of cash outlay a few wrong decisions can be quite costly.  Here are some specific qualities to look for while conducting the interview.

Patience.
If you take a walk through any book store and look and the success section, many of the titles hint on the idea that your sales success is guaranteed instantly if you follow their formula.  Turn on the TV and during a commercial break all of your problems can be solved within 30 seconds after taking a certain pill.  The generation coming into our business has unrealistic expectations when it comes to success as a sales professional, and when it doesn’t happen instantly, they quit.  They are used to instant gratification.  The key to finding out if they have patience is to ask them: “How long they think it will take to become a true professional in this business?’  See how close they come to three years. Most of them will say 3 months.

Persistence.
Many sales training programs are built with all the emphasis on closing.  Some say that you should close after a maximum of three calls, others say you should try and close at least 5 times during any interview.  If you are calling on an account and the close comes too easily, you can be sure that someone else can take your business away just as easily.  The best accounts are the ones that are hard to get, and this is where persistence comes in.  There are success stories in our business that are simply unbelievable when you hear about the length of time it has taken someone to open an account or build their territory.  This quality of persistence is of vital importance in hiring a new sales rep.  During the interview ask them:  What their biggest accomplishment has been and how long it took to accomplish it?  See how close they come to two years.

Personality.
Everyone knows that distributor sales is a relationship business and a good personality is important.  It is easy  for a person to bring out their best side when everything is going smoothly.  The true personality test is to see how things are handled when the chips are down.  Especially when the things that are going wrong are someone else’s fault.  If a product is out of stock, the truck is late, the wrong product was shipped, will they take the side of the customer and fight against the company, or will they work towards solving the problem? The key question to ask is:  “How do you feel about accepting responsibility for someone else's mistakes?”

Product Knowledge.
Considering the number of line items it takes to maintain a competitive inventory, gaining sufficient product knowledge is a long, slow process.  With new products being introduced continuously and old ones being changed or discontinued, it becomes a real challenge to stay on top of the necessary information.  The secret of gaining product knowledge is to compare points of difference.  What is the difference between a Choice and No Roll?  What is the difference between a Water Added and a Ham and Water Product?  Each point of difference will change the price and the value of the product.  As professional foodservice sales people we must be able to sell value added products.  See what kind of definition they come up with when you ask the meaning of “Value Added Selling”.

Motivation.
At least 80% of a sales persons time is spent unsupervised.  In our business it is important that a sales person has a high level of self motivation.  They should be hungry and have a strong desire for success.  The key question to ask:  “What motivates you to keep doing the things that are necessary for success?”  Look for goal setters, people who have personal and financial goals big enough to make them do the things the failures don’t like to do.

Self improvement
Nearly all of the top sales professionals I have met over the years have one thing in common.  Even though they are on the top of their game, they still believe they can do better.  They are the first ones to step up to the plate when it comes to learning new skills or hearing about a new product that will help their customers.  I just reviewed 4 workbook from four new foodservice sales professionals who just went through my course.  What was so amazing about these four young people was they all finished the 3 month course in less than a week working on it full time!  They went through 400 pages of industry specific content and filled out a 200 page workbook.  This was done in record time and with accurate and correct answers throughout.  My congratulations to Parker, Ashley, April and Tim of Turtle Beach Foodservice in Oldsmar, Florida.  I am especially grateful to Sanjay Sujanani, who successfully started the company 5 years ago during the height of worst economy in years!

If you would like information on the best training investment in the industry, click here for details...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Increase your gross profit 24%

According to the American Society for Training and Development, firms that invest $1,500 per sales person in training, compared with those that spend $125 experience an average of 24 percent higher gross profit margins and 218 percent higher revenue.

Activities Mistaken For Sales Training

Sales meetings 
Most of the time spent in a sales meeting is taking care of business.  Buyers talk about products that are not moving, data processing tells everyone they are not getting their orders in on time, credit talks about too many days out, marketing talks about the food show and finally a broker has 10 minutes to talk about 20 line items.  The sales manager gives out a few spiff checks and sends everybody home.

Computer training 
In addition to the initial cost, the time spent in training is extremely expensive when you consider all of the training does not improve one single selling skill.   The only thing that increases sales is improving the professional selling skills of your team.  Computer training is necessary but it should not be confused with sales training.

Let suppliers do the training 
A few years ago the big word everyone was throwing around was “synergy”.   Buy 4 or 5 companys, put everything together and new opportunities would appear.  When the dust settled, what really happened was 4 of the 5 sales people were let go (downsizing) and one person was left to do the work of five.  They are spread very thin with more and more responsibility.  To think that they have the time or the talent to do actual sales training that would improve the skills of your team in not possible.

Broker ride-with
A broker, representing about 20 to 40 lines, has the same problem.  Too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  A broker ride-with will soon become a thing of the past.  Two hundred cases of product have to be sold to pay for one end user call.  Most brokers do not have any type of formal sales training, only product training.

Leave it to the sales manager  
Today’s sales manager is one of the most overworked and under rated jobs in the industry.  The best way to describe the position:  they are expected to get blood out of a rock and increase the blood extraction by 10% next year.  A sales manager has to hire, fire, fill in, handle problems, motivate, evaluate, sit in on committees and keep the sales people, credit people, order entry people, warehouse people and management happy.  It takes a lot of work to develop and teach an effective sales training program.  Sales managers simply do not have the time.

Continuous training
Every year the professional athletes have spring training camp.  It is attended by rookies as well as the veterans who have been around for years.  A “sales training camp” should be considered just as important and should be held at least once or twice each year. Changing habits and acquiring new skills takes repetition and practice.

Would you do me a favor?
Click on this link and forward the pdf file to your sales manager.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Being aggressive in sales

Being aggressive doesn't mean being pushy, it means being mentally strong!

To be successful in sales you have to have a sense of toughness.  If you don't you will give in to failure.  If you go into the prospects place of business with only a mild sense of confidence you will likely get beaten by a competitor. If you don’t have a strong need to be mentally tougher in your life, you won’t have the dedication or determination to take the psychological abuse.

The more urgent your desire to have mental toughness, the more likely you will be able to endure the hardships and earn the rewards.

Reviewing your goals and learning new selling principles is not a one time procedure.  If you become mentally lazy and foolishly take for granted that your skills are always sharp and readily available, you are unprepared. It doesn't matter how strong you are, or how much stamina you have. If you assume that you don’t need any mental preparation to get the sales numbers you know are possible, you will pay a price.

The competition and tough buyers will kick you to the curb. Even a slightly less than aggressive attitude will have you back-peddling.  You see this happen in sports where a team is so heavily favored, they take their opponents too lightly and get beaten. In a more serious example, a warrior may have many victories, but if he begins to bask in glory and rely only on his reputation, he will eventually be killed in war. The point you want to take home here is never assume you are in the right frame of mind to do battle. You must always reload emotional bullets in your mind’s chamber.

Aggressiveness has many different definitions. It does not mean being a bully or being pushy.   The aggressiveness I’m talking about begins and takes place in the mind.  There are many shades of aggression, the shade I am talking about is psychological.

Aggression is a state of mind that will dominate your thinking process during the adversity that is inevitable. It is about being methodical with a strategy to overcome the threat of quitting. Mental toughness is about your thinking patterns. If you don't have a clear mind, you will have difficulty forming your plan of attack.

Your competitor will always try to disrupt your composure and try to make you panic.

Look at how boxers come out their dressing rooms ready to fight. They are relaxed yet intense with their focus. Although they appear calm, they each have one goal in mind – to win. The best fighters are patient, calculating, and waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. And when he does, the successful fighter will make their move.

On the other hand, if a fighter gets hurt and goes down to the mat, it’s going to take as much aggressive effort for him to get back up. Only through aggressive determination can he make a comeback. In both scenarios, having an aggressive mind is essential to either delivering a vicious uppercut or get you back on your feet when your opponent has knocked you down. It’s all about having the ability to be aggressive at the right time.

More information on this topic...