The Secret Stash
Expert advice for the modern sales professional
The industry of sales is undergoing big changes. Long gone are the days of simply pitching a product and pushing for the close. There’s a new game in town: The consultative approach, where representative and buyer work together in hopes of easing pain points. Does your strategy fit the mold of today’s corporate requirements? Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate—and redesign—your approach for the modern business world. But, sometimes, it can be hard to know where you’ve gone wrong or where you need to be, which is why we’ve done the work on your behalf. Here, seven professionals share their secrets for success.
ON MAKING CONNECTIONS
“I am authentic and human—the same in one setting as another. My sales goal is to truly understand the other person: What they like, what they need, who they are, what they believe. Thus, I trust them and they trust me. I could be selling anything and the process is the same. I am passionate and creative. I like to make others laugh and encourage them. It is a small world, yet one that is globally connected. My focus is on doing things the right way and giving every ounce of energy I have to each encounter. I am a continual learner, never complacent, so that I can improve. There is always room to grow. And, finally it all comes down to the value you bring to the table in any relationship. Without the value, you are a price. I sell relationships and value.
– Ryan T. Sauers, president and chief marketing officer, Sauers Consulting Strategies LLC, Atlanta
“I believe in the fundamentals, so my go-to sales strategy comes down to four questions:
- Am I making a high-value, well-researched sales call?
- Am I calling on the correct target market?
- Do I have an effective prospecting process?
- Am I applying that process with diligence and pleasant persistency?
If my answer to these four questions comes back, “Yes, yes, yes and yes,” my success is inevitable. 100 percent of the time, a shortcoming in one of these areas is the culprit to any lack of success. Examining and challenging each area tells me where I need to improve.”
– Bill Farquharson, vice president, Epicomm, Alexandria, Va.
ON GAINING RESPECT
“I’ve found that customers really just want two things: show up and keep your word. If you are there when they need you and deliver on your promises, you will earn loyal customers that keep coming back.”
– Edward Martin, owner, Proforma Media & Print Solutions, New Braunfels, Texas
ON THE ART OF LISTENING
“It’s been said that when you talk you are repeating what you already know, but when you listen you may learn something new. There are many sales courses available that teach a person how to talk, pitch, persuade, address, present, discuss and so on. Few teach the art of listening. For me, listening is a critical component in truly understanding the other person and making a lasting connection.”
– Diane M. Morsch, director of sales and marketing, Bristol ID, Lima, N.Y.
“I have always believed in my head and my heart that the promotional solution(s) I am presenting to my clients are the correct one(s); that my idea will get the job done. I have never in 36 years presented an idea that I wouldn’t buy if I was on the other side of the table. I take a moment to visualize this idea in action and, oftentimes, I take my client on that journey with me. My value to them isn’t the product, it’s me. So far, so good. I love what I do—that’s my winning strategy.”
– Bob Gray, creative promotional solutions and sales, Public Identity, Los Angeles
“In a word, ‘differentiation.’ It is imperative to constantly be in a state of reinvention, analyze the market, and be proactive and open to the possibility for change. To that point, I knew that our industry was more than stuff or, as a sour clients so eloquently put it, ‘trinkets and trash.’ By being innovative and creative, and using the various elements of print, packaging, products, creative copy, themes and unique delivery methods, we can achieve amazing success for our clients and, in the process, drive amazing profits for ourselves. Know your market and proactively adapt … you won’t go wrong.”
– Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, director of marketing and consultant, iPROMOTEu, Wayland, Mass.; and CEO, Cliff Quicksell Associates, Walkersville, Md.
ON THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
“Landing a large corporate account requires many elements to fall into place. Referrals are the easiest way to win business, but picking up the phone and nicely working through the jungle of administrative personnel has worked very well for Monkey Marketing Promotions. Many of our national accounts have taken years to develop through excellent customer service and continued follow-up and relationship building, as client representatives change. Furthermore, the sales relationship needs to be clear, concise and easy for the client to understand. All of your questions should be asked upfront, so that you don’t bother the client multiple times with questions you already should have asked. Order acknowledgments need to be correct—with art, in-hands dates and ship-to information perfectly accurate. Should any problems arise, the attention and concern you convey to your client is paramount.”
– Jeff Quattry, president, Monkey Marketing Promotions, Orlando, Fla.