When I started selling, I followed what the senior guys seemed to be doing and of course what I was told to do by management. What was that? Organize the sales territory by customer and work out a sales call schedule that makes the best use of your time. For example, Monday would be spent on the North, Tuesday downtown, Wednesday in the East and Thursday in the West, and Friday in South. All of my accounts would be given the same amount of time and I would try to fit in a certain amount of cold calling into the weekly cycle.
Does it work? Sure it does!
I worked hard, kept organized and did pretty well.
Then, one day, everything changed. I started to spend more time with a few large customers who had the potential to be even larger. I listened to their concerns, brainstormed solutions, and met with more of their staff in many different roles throughout the company. I soon found my sales were increasing dramatically. I reorganized my schedule so that I would still see all of the customers on a regular basis but the smaller accounts received a visit every two or three weeks instead of every week.
The time I gained was used to work with the larger companies. In fact, I worked even more hours by adding weekend product demonstrations in their stores. I supported my brands in their businesses, worked hard to provide ideas and solutions to help them sell more and make more profit. As a result, I was rewarded with more sales. Sell less, Sell more!
In time, I was selling five or six times what other salespeople in the sales industry would sell. The other sales people could clearly see what I was doing but none of them ever followed my lead. Even today, so many years later, they are still selling the same products and calling on the same customers in exactly the same way.
Selling more is NOT about more selling – it never has been. Sell less, Sell more!
How could it be about selling more? How many hours are in a day? How far can you drive or how many telephone calls can you make? We are all limited by the number of hours in the day and if we are going to make more money, we need to work smarter. Now, I know that we have all heard the expression ‘work smarter, not harder’ but I wonder how many people really know what that means.
Here is a riddle. Take a piece of letter-sized paper. Draw two small dots on each end of the paper. Now connect the two dots without drawing a line between the two dots. How is it done? Well, just fold the piece of paper until the two dots meet, of course!
Some may call that a trick question. Not at all – just a different way to look at the answer.
If we are going to sell smarter then we don’t need to work harder. We need to think harder and ask different questions.
In every industry there are the few who are selling six or ten or twenty times what the average person is selling. How is that possible? Well, clearly they are not working twenty times harder. Chances are they are working differently.
Take a look at your work and pull it apart. Try different things. Look to different industries or different countries to see if something is being done differently that you might be able to adapt. Experiment, test, measure and evolve the way you do business.
There is always a better way. Sell less, Sell more!
My method of optimizing sales results was to envelop myself in my customer’s business and to understand everything about their business and what made it tick. I got to know the people – all of the people. I brought donuts to the warehouse staff and cold drinks on the hottest day of summer.
As I understood and learned their business I saw opportunities to help. As I helped I became trusted, needed and valued. I became part of their businesses and they wanted to deal with me. They looked for opportunities to give me more business because dealing with me was easier than dealing with anyone else.
That is working smarter!
What does it take to work smarter? It takes hard work. It means taking your work home with you. Sometimes it requires the support of management who can see the value in what is being done. Strangely there are companies that want all their salespeople to make the same amount and will cut commissions to those who sell more than their quota.
Working smarter needs to be supported by management but first the salespeople need to be inspired to be different, to think differently and to walk in the face of traditional thinking.
Are you ready to give it a try?