COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | JEFFREY GITOMER

Salespeople have questions, Gitomer has answers

I get a ton of emails from people seeking insight or asking me to solve sales dilemmas. Here are a few that may relate to your job, your life and, most important, your sales thought process right now.

Jeffrey, I sell capital equipment to the meat and food industry. The sales process can be long — six months to two years. Customers want information and quotes to plug into their budgets. They want the information quick, and then we wait. What are the best ways to stay connected during this process without being a pain? Rick

Rick, you’re already a pain because you're dealing with people who actually cannot make the decision. So you're trying to follow up with somebody who has to go to their daddy to find out what's going on. That's why they don't call you back. You haven't reached the decision maker. You have to go to the person who will buy the equipment, not the person who has the budget and puts all the data together and then goes and says, "What do you think, Dad? Do you think we should get Bob's stuff? He says he's pretty darn good, Dad." No! You start at a higher level. You talk about the productivity of your machine, you talk about the profitability of your machine, you talk about the ease-of-use of your machine, and you talk about the safety of your machine. When those concepts are put together in a presentable format, you meet with the only person who matters, the person who pulls the trigger. That can cut your sales cycle down to one hour. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I remember years ago a remark made by one of my sales managers referring to a Major League Baseball player who gets paid millions for hitting one out of three pitches. When we determine what goal to achieve, it always seems that 100 percent is the goal. Of course we strive to get them all, but knowing what we know, and not to make it easy for the sales reps to achieve, wouldn’t it be more motivational if the goal were actually set at what we know is attainable with a stretch? Pat

Pat, of course. Why would you set a goal you can't achieve? It sets you up for failure. When sales plans are put into place, they're arbitrary in nature. "We're going to do 11.5 percent this year." Where did they get that number? Answer: They made it up. Your job is to think in terms of best. Your job is to challenge your manager. Can you make goals with them? Can you collaborate about what you believe is possible and actually create a game plan to make that happen? Sure, you should set the standard high. Sure, you should make it so only the best achieve that particular standard, but the key word is achieve. The goal has to be achievable in the mind of the salesperson, and they have to intend to do it. Then, and only then, can it be done. Don't fight the goal — harmonize and collaborate with your manager and the finance department to determine what can be done. From that point on, you can win. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I have recently joined a business broker who has been successful for six years. I am the new boy. It appears revenue is generated from listing fees and commission on sales. Listings are obtained from direct mail, drop-ins and customers who visit our website. In my case, a lot of groundwork has to be done to build up listings from zero. Purchasers are coming all the time, and converting them to sales does not appear to be a problem. It only takes one purchaser, and the commission is good. What concerns me is when we use old methods such as snail mail and cold calling to get listings. Do you have any suggestions on how to fast-track the listing process? David

David, when you start a job, there is no “fast track.” There's only what has been done successfully before. Start there. When you do start there, you'll be seen as “fitting in" and "part of the team” or “part of the process." Yes, you're on your own. Yes, you make your own commissions. But you know what? You can't come in and fight traffic from the first day. What you need to do is harmonize with what's happening in your place of business. Do it the old way first. Then figure out a new way on your own. If I were in your position, I'd be using social media. I'd be using testimonials. I'd be using every new strategy I possibly could, but not until you've made a few sales. Start there. Best regards, Jeffrey


Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at trainone.com. He can be reached at salesman@gitomer.com.

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