In talking to hundreds of sales managers, CFOs, CEOs and business owners over the years, I’ve encountered a somewhat disturbing trend. This trend is a behavior pattern that I’ve encountered when discussing my products and services. This pattern, while common, can be deadly.
The pattern I’m referring to centers around statistics and how these decision makers react to them. When statistics begin to go down, the first thing many of these decision makers do is cut back on expenses. The idea seems logical at first; if your sales and profit are down, you need to cut expenses to balance out the P&L statement. However, I believe it is a mistake, and sometimes a huge one. I’ve even seen many salesmen do this (and I have too in the past).
The first thing a company MUST do when facing a slight dip in sales or profit is PROMOTE. Economy is important, but you have to promote as a first action. If you fail to promote, your slump will either get worse or be prolonged. If you think about it, promotion makes the most sense. To promote means to make your business, product or service known and well thought of. If sales and profit are down, and you rein in your expenses and fail to promote, you rob yourself of the opportunity of garnering more sales and closing the deals that are close to completion. New customers who may only now be ready to buy or entertain presentations will not be able to find you easily. Old customers may not know what specials or other products you have. All of this means that the action that can directly add sales and profit on an immediate basis – PROMOTION – will not occur, and your business will continue to slump.
The same thought process works for individuals also. If your personal statistics are down slightly, you need to PROMOTE. Salesmen who experience lulls or dips in their sales need to promote and get their name and products out there. Work hard to get appointments, make more calls, send more emails, disseminate sales materials, etc. Other employees can get their statistics up by promoting and PRODUCING. Sometimes, if your job doesn’t directly relate to sales, the action step is to produce. For example, if the Accounts Receivable clerk has a responsibility to process invoices, send out invoices and receive payments from customers, each of these responsibilities can be measured in statistics. Then, if the number of invoices sent, checks in, etc., start dropping, she can Promote by calling people directly for payments, asking sales departments if there are any pending sales to invoice, etc. She can then Produce by getting those invoices out and checks in.
Promotion doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money.
It can be as simple as emailing your customers and prospects to let them know you’re there, or better, that you have a product or service that can really help them. Email blasts are good for broad contact, but you should also send personal, individual emails or messages that focus on a specific product or service for that customer. Make sure you tie in how that product will help that particular business or individual. Other forms of promotion are phone calls, cold calls (when done correctly), website ads, how-to You Tube videos, etc.
My company is positioned to help businesses in two ways: promotion and economy. We consult with customers and help them design one or more marketing pieces, such as flyers, postcards or promotional items. Our relationships with manufacturers helps us save money while promoting.
Our connections also help customers save time and money on their office supplies, toner and printer supplies, business forms and A/P checks. It is a good strategy to use cost savings on these items to pay for promotional actions.
If enough companies and business owners stopped complaining about the economy and just PROMOTED, we would go a long way toward turning our entire economy around, not to mention putting extra money in our pockets.
Normally, I work 40-45 hours a week at my day job, and another 30 hours a week or so at my church, delivering spiritual counseling. As you can imagine, my time with my family comes at a heavy premium.
This week I’ve been off from my work with my church, enjoying some much-needed R&R and time with my kids. Yesterday, while I was playing with my son in the pool in our apartment complex, I noticed another kid playing by himself, while his mother sat in a lounge chair, texting for several minutes. After playing with my son for several more minutes, I again noticed the mother, who was now reading a book.
The entire half hour we were there, I think she said maybe 2 sentences to her son. She divided her time between her phone and her book. At first, it made me sad that she thought so little of the time she had with her son that she didn’t feel the need or desire to play or interact with him. On the other hand, it reaffirmed the gratitude that I felt for the time I did have with my son. I haven’t always felt this way; nor have I truly appreciated the gifts that I do have.
In our society, we are so inundated with communication from TV, magazines, text messages, email and elsewhere that we tend to zone out a bit. Personal, one-on-one communication is becoming a lost art. Several years ago, I was at a restaurant on Friday night. I noticed a group of 5 people at a table. What struck me was, every one of them was talking on a cell phone. There were five friends out together on a Friday night, yet none of them were really there! And that was before texting and email were readily available on smartphones. Now, it’s common to see people completely oblivious to the outside world; faces transfixed at a screen about 2 feet in front of their eyes, frantically tapping out messages.
Take some time today to physically talk to someone; as in, stand in front of them and communicate. Put down the phone, ipad, etc. Shut of the TV and computer. Close your magazine or 50 Shades of Grey (or other book). Have an actual, human, face-to-face interaction with someone. Play with your kids. Enjoy someone else’s company. If you find it difficult to do, don’t worry. Instead, see it as a sign that you need to practice this much more often.
As Farris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
In sales as well as life, it’s important to focus on-and be grateful for- the positive things. Thank your customers for their business, no matter how small it may be. Thank your prospects for the opportunity to show them what you can do. Thank your employer for the opportunity to work for them. Thank your employees for all their hard work.
As I’ve been making a number of sales calls lately, I’ve changed my attitude about how I view the work and the people I talk to. I thank them for the time, thank them for their honesty if they are not interested, thank them for their smile, thank them for the help or information they give, and always wish them a great day.
It may sound trite, but I really believe that it has made a huge difference. I’m getting more leads, more requests for quotes, more return calls and soon, more business.
I want to take this opportunity to thank my boss for his patience, guidance and assistance. I want to thank my team for their hard work. I want to thank all of my customers, both current and future. Thanks to Pete for the opportunity you’ve given me.
I want to thank my wife for constantly trying to change me for the better. Thanks to my wonderful boys for smiling and playing with me, and keeping me young at heart. Thank you to LRH for giving me a spiritual compass that guides me. And of course, thank you to all who read this, and may your days and lives be filled with success, wonder and joy.
And, if you’ve liked this, pass it along to those you are thankful to. Better yet, write your own notes of thanks.