Archive - July 2015

Always Give First

Last week, I sat down with Jacob, a friend who is a sales rep at an ink and toner supply store. We were exchanging the usual “So, how is the family…how is business?” when Jacob started to look troubled. “You know, Greta, I thought business was going great,” he said. “My sales have been through the roof, and I have more clients than I know what to do with. There is just one thing that has been bothering me the past few weeks.” “What is that?” I asked. “Well, I was reviewing my order totals for the quarter when I saw that my biggest client, ABC Graphics, had ordered only half as much toner in June as it did in May. I was not too surprised. Many of our clients have a slow month here or there. I figured things would pick up. Well, lo and behold, at the end of the next month, not only had ABC Graphics not increased back to its regular toner order, it had barely ordered anything.” I asked, “So tell me something, Jacob. When you recently visited your contact at ABC Graphics, how did it go?” “Well, to be honest, the last time I followed up with them was at the end of last year,” Jacob replied. “I told you we have been crazy—I mean busy—and besides I didn’t have anything new for him, they just want to order and not have us bother them.” Bother them! So why was Jacob rapidly losing ground on his biggest account? Because he did not stay in front of his client, and someone else moved in on his account. And if Jacob’s client perceives a visit as a “bother” then he needs to analyze what he says and does while he’s there. One common characteristic we as salespeople have, is the belief that “once a customer, always a customer.” Of course, as time goes on and good customer service does not, another salesperson sees your client as his prospect. So how can Jacob—or you—make it right? Sit down with your client list the first week of every month and think about each client individually. Then jot down something you can do for each person or company on the list. Take off your salesperson hat and really consider the well-being of your client. Think referrals, introductions, invitations to network with you…anything to make your client say, “Wow, he really does care about me.” Not only will you be helping out your clients, but you will also be keeping the line of communication open regarding your product or service. Then you can resolve their issue instead of your competition doing it…while getting their business. Rather than worrying about the other guy moving in on your clients, take some preventive measures to ensure you are keeping your clients happy. Remember the “givers gain” philosophy: The more you give, the more you get in return. If you are always giving, you will never lose.

Top 5 Hiring Mistakes

“Joanne is leaving and I need someone for that territory! I need help do you know anyone?” A week doesn’t pass without someone asking about looking for a new sales employee. I hear it all the time. So why is everyone having such a problem? Here are some common hiring mistakes we see and what you should avoid.

  1. Looking for new employees when one is leaving. I think we all know the value of a good employee. Make no mistake, if you hire (and manage) right, your organization runs like a well oiled machine and I defy anyone to argue that. “Get the right people on the bus in the right seats” the famous quote from the top-notch book Good to Great by Jim Collins. That being said why are we looking for employees only when we “need” one. You always need them if they are great and greatness doesn’t come along only when you are looking so be looking all of the time. Our biggest problem with looking when we “need” someone is the desperation factor. We often hire to fill a need by hiring “the best of the worst”. When we are feeling pressure from a department or another employee to lighten their load we often make a decision not for the  “best person” but the “best for right now person”. This will hurt you in the long run every time.
  2. Hiring off of a resume’. When I say it is a mistake hiring off of a resume’ I don’t mean to presume you actually hire when a good resume comes in without other important considerations. What I do mean is being impressed by the background they have had; whom they’ve worked for and what they’ve done. Background is less important then things like eagerness to learn, commitment and desire to be successful. Hire for attitude, train for skill.
  3. Hiring in your image. Allowing the likeability factor to take over the actual decision of the best candidate. We like people that are like us, that we relate to but in hiring that is not to be used as a gauge. We all make decisions emotionally, meaning we decide on things in our life business and personal by our gut, by what we feel. In some cases it’s enough but in the decision of hiring someone to help you grow your business, there needs to be much more then you like them.
  4. Selling the candidate on the job. We are passionate about our organization and all of the good things that we offer. Because of that, we sell the candidate on how great the job is instead of really qualifying them first. One of the most important things we need to do in an interview is to ask good questions and listen for the answers. It is called an interview for a reason. Do not get caught up in telling the candidate all about the job, what it takes, the duties the company benefits etc. Do not get caught up in this sale. You may find out too late the things you could have found out upfront.
  5. Overlooking a teachable, trainable candidate for one with “experience”. The idea of hiring someone with experience is sales is understandable. It seems like a good  idea for someone who can just fit right into a job and start off fast and furious. This is often not the case. Though it takes more work and effort to train someone it often proves to be much more lucrative in the end because you have taught them in your way. Unfortunately sales people seem to have more bad habits then good ones when they leave a job. Though this can be an overstatement it is more often true then not.   The key is to be looking for someone better then your best person, all of the time. If one of your salespeople said to you that they were going to look for new business only when they lose existing business, you would probably fire them. Then don’t do the same thing. As an executive, your prospecting responsibility is looking for top-level salespeople all of the time. Not just when you lose one. – See more at:
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