Sell More by Selling Less • The Sales Success Paradox

Sell More by Selling Less

When I started selling, I followed what the senior guys did and of course what management told me.

What was that?

Organize the sales territory by customer and work out a sales call schedule that made the best use of my travel time. 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 growth potential. I listened to their concerns, brainstormed solutions, and met with more of their staff in different departments throughout the company. I soon found my sales were increasing dramatically. I reorganized my schedule so that I would still visit every customer on a regular basis but the smaller accounts received a visit every two or three weeks instead of every week.

The time gained I used 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 generate ideas and solutions to help them sell more and make more profit. The result was I rewarded with more sales.

In time, I was selling five or six times what other salespeople in the my 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.

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 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 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 than 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 but 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 there something that you might be able to adapt. Experiment, test, measure and evolve the way you do business.

There is always a better way.

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 was working smarter!

What does it take to work smarter?

At first, it takes hard work. It means taking your work home with you. Sometimes it requires the support of management who can see the value of change. 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. If that is your company find a better employer!

Get management support to work smarter but first get inspired to act differently, to think differently and to walk in the face of traditional thinking.

Are you ready to give it a try?