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50 StepstoSuccess[1]

50 StepstoSuccess[1]


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50 steps to success
50 steps to success

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Published by: arron1fr on Dec 14, 2009
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Selling is a business activity that tests patience and discipline. Fraught with

rejection and customer demands for satisfaction, it can put severe strains

on personal make-up. So much so that many leaders wonder why career

selling is so appealing. Yet, when you suggest a better life elsewhere, the

successful salesperson won't hear of it. Why? Because nothing can replace

the thrill of closing a sale. Targeting customers, devising sales plans, plot-
ting strategies, and identifying products and services that the customer will

want to buy becomes a rush. It is likened to wild game hunters preparing

for the kill.

Salespeople live for the "cold call," the first-time customer contact.

Successful sellers characterize them as introductions, not sales calls. In

fact, they avoid selling at all during first meetings. Why? Prospects are

expecting a pitch, and because they don't know the salesperson, it will

never be easier for them to say no. And as successful salespeople know, a

no is extremely difficult to turn into a yes later on.

So, as a salesperson, your first call is social only, a reconnaissance

mission to learn customer interests, both business and personal. Make

notes about the style, personal make-up, and interests of the prospect. Let

a month go by. Then call again — perhaps for lunch. Tour his operations.

Learn about his successes and failures — but don't try to sell!
During these first few contacts, you are simply obtaining customer

intelligence, determining what the customer might be interested in buying.
This increases your chance of making a sale in two ways. First, your

knowledge of a prospect's operation better enables you to identify and

then meet his needs. And as his familiarity with you increases, his resist-

ance to purchase declines. By showing interest in his business, you are

demonstrating that you're not just out for a fast sale. Instead, you build a

relationship. He becomes more comfortable. And then you sell!

You may call on prospects many times before asking for an order.

You'll know when the time is right. You'll have enough intelligence to

match your product with his needs, your confidence will be at its highest,

102 Peter M. Cleveland

his resistance at its lowest. Attempting to sell before this point increases

chances of failure dramatically. Leison Auto Parts offers an excellent

example of relationship selling.

Leison Auto Parts has been selling after-market auto parts to large auto

service operations for fifteen years. Its most successful key account sales-

man, Fred May, sells 40 percent more sales volume than does his closest

rival. Leison's president encourages Fred to pass success secrets on to other

sales staff, to foster a stronger team sales performance. He asks Fred to

hold seminars on customer relationship building for the other salespeople.

To teach his strategy for success, Fred walked the rest of the sales

staff through his sales plan for his next cold call. With Jack Motors as

his potential customer, he showed them his approach to making the sale

as outlined in Figure 33.4.

Fred explained each call meticulously, stressing how each successive

contact is dependent upon the success of the previous one. In Fred's
approach, each call has a small manageable goal — a golf game or a

plant tour — that will take the relationship a rung higher. At the top of

the ladder, of course, is the desired sale. He won't talk about Leison

products until the fourth contact. Only then will he have sufficient intel-

ligence to match product solutions with Jack Motors' problems.

Leison Auto Parts
Sales Plan for Jack Motors

figure 33.4

Secrets to Revenue Growth 103

Fred May's approach to personalized sales plans makes him the most

successful Leison salesperson. He plans each account in the same manner

— even for repeat customers. It's just as important to maintain existing

relationships as it is to create new ones.

Not everyone has the skill and personal make-up to sell as well as Fred.
Many salespeople develop problems when implementing plans. Steven
Astor's experience at Peoples' Drugs helps make the point.

Les Whitby, president of Peoples' Drugs, employs 31 people to achieve

$28.2 million in sales. As outlined in Figure 34.4, Peoples' includes one

retail drug store, a wholesale division selling to other drug and retail

outlets, and an institutional sales division for hospitals, armed forces, and

detention centers. Derek Lamb, manager of store sales, is responsible for

$6.8 million retail sales, Steven Astor sells $18.4 million in wholesale, and

Carolyn Green achieves approximately $3 million of institutional sales.

Steven services 42 wholesale accounts — some every three days,

others weekly, monthly, and bimonthly. Regular and reliable scheduling

of sales calls is critical to his success.

Ten of Steven's accounts are difficult to manage. Grumpy store

owners and slow account payers demand extra time and delicate people

skills. One account in particular, Johnson Pharmacy, creates particular

hardship. Lewis Johnson yells at suppliers to keep them on their toes

and discourage liberties with pricing. Steven finds Lewis so unnerving he

searches for any excuse to avoid the account. If he has six calls to make

in a day and Johnson Pharmacy is one, he will schedule it last and tr

very hard to consume the day with the first five.

Peoples' Drugs
Partial Organization Chart

F i g u r e 34.4

104 Peter M. Cleveland

At sales meetings, Steven always discusses Johnson as his most difficult

account and seeks advice from others.

After two and a half months of procrastinating, Steven was

summoned by Peoples' president Les Whitby. He had just received a call

from Johnson complaining about the lack of service from Peoples'. A

representative hadn't been on his premises for months. Steven attempted

to explain the situation to Whitby, but the boss was unsympathetic. He

ordered Steven to make the call immediately or not come in tomorrow.

En route, Steven didn't know whether to be angry or frightened. As

he got closer to Johnson, he decided on anger. He told Johnson to sit

down and listen to why every supplier in the drug industry avoided him.

Treating every supplier as if it had cheated him created animosity, he

informed Johnson, and when they avoided him, he just became angrier.

He himself wouldn't be there if it weren't for the threat of losing his

job. The account was so unpleasant, Steven told him, he didn't care if

Johnson called Whitby a second time.

Johnson looked puzzled, as if not realizing the harm his behavior had

caused. When he collected himself, he muttered something about start-

ing their relationship over.

50 Steps to Business Success doesn't recommend yelling at customers as
an effective sales technique. Situations do arise, however, where forceful
behavior is the most appropriate alternative. Steven Astor had reached that
point with Lewis Johnson. When pushed to the limit, he decided his job
wasn't worth it. The relationship between him and Johnson simply had to

change. By standing up to Johnson, Steven earned his respect and helped him

understand how poorly he treated his suppliers. Together, they rebuilt the

relationship. Today, Steven no longer looks for excuses to avoid Johnson.

The self-imposed stress of working in sales often manifests itself in

avoidance behavior like Steven's. Some people load schedules with tasks

they like to do — anything to avoid the pressure of a sales call. Others call

numerous internal sales meetings to discuss the same plans over and over,

to the point where they believe they're selling just by calling a meeting.
Then there are those who develop contact lists every time they feel pres-

sure to make a call. Still others focus on selling to industries rather than to
single accounts.

Secrets to Revenue Growth 105

People with these symptoms suffer sales panic. If you are one of these

people, take a deep breath and grab a clean sheet of paper. For each of

your sales accounts, list the precise actions you must take to achieve the
outcome you desire. Plan dates for sales calls — perhaps a month apart,

and as many as you think necessary to achieve your goal. Specify what

information you require from second and subsequent calls. Leave the first

call for social purposes, with perhaps a brief description of your achieve-

ments and interests. Remember, don't sell before your confidence is high

and customer resistance is low.
The panic stricken may also lack the discipline to follow through with

selling activities after they've managed the first call. Common experiences


salespeople who begin with great enthusiasm — making one, maybe

two, sales calls to potential customers — then losing interest. This is

the Power Surge Syndrome, named for its strong start and poor finish,

those who try to implement sales plans alone when they really need

the support and skills of other staff to achieve them. Knowing when

to bring in the cavalry is critical to successful implementation,

those who oversell and end up talking the customer out of buying.

Knowing when to stop talking is frequently a difficult lesson for the
panic stricken.

Detailed sales plans alleviate these afflictions because they provide a
road map, and this, in turn, breeds confidence. Sales plans should also
include the all-important step of consulting your soul mate. As in all bites,
the soul mate's input is an essential ingredient to sales success.

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Product Intuition Is

Worth a Thousand Hours

"Beware of those who worship the ground you walk on;

they may be just reaching for some dirt."


Product intuition represents the ability to produce the right product, at the

right time, and at the right price and quality to meet customer needs. Get

all the criteria right and you ride the crest of product success. Get the

criteria wrong and you spend enormous amounts of time and money
mitigating losses. Products fail if companies lack the patience to link them

to customer satisfaction. It's fatal to rush products to store shelves prema-

turely, before customer demand is assured.

The age-old debate used to be whether a company should be customer

satisfaction or product development oriented. That debate is over: the

customer won. Products are no longer designed and produced to satisfy

the technological dreams of research departments. Customers have made

it clear. They don't want better mousetraps. They want traps that work, at

the right price, color, and size, and only with options to meet their needs

— nothing more and nothing less.

Product-driven companies build new products with more options and

functions than necessary to meet customer satisfaction. Development costs

must be recouped through revenue, and overdeveloped products are

usually priced less competitively. Customers won't pay for a sledgehammer

if a mallet will do.


108 Peter M. Cleveland

Customer-Driven Activity

figure 35.5

Customer satisfaction is the only consistent product design criterion.

Businesses won't survive unless they organize every process around it.

Every decision regarding products, expenditures, investments, and

management is made with customer needs in mind. More than anything

else, this single element differentiates successful organizations from

mediocre ones.

While product-driven companies innovate in a vacuum, customer-
driven companies continuously study shifts in customer needs. Results are

Product Intuition Is Worth a Thousand Hours 109

compared against their own product advantages and those of competitors.

Any barriers to customer product acceptance are addressed through plan-

ning during triage.

Customer service teams identify and continuously monitor customer

needs. These needs form the basis of what the team perceives to be the

customers' values when assessing products for purchase. The team

encourages everyone in the company to satisfy those values, and measures

employee performance on that basis. This continuous assessment of

customer needs and values also offers valuable intelligence for the design

and creation of new products.

Customer satisfaction leaders facilitate this process. Service teams

ensure the results are implemented. This system for closely monitoring

customer needs is critical for all businesses, large and small.

The components of the customer satisfaction focus are illustrated in

Figure 35.5.

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