Sales 101: Look Beyond The End Of Your Nose

Look beyond the norm

New sales avenues

Tunnel vision is a term used to describe those who never look at options to the path they trod. It is also a medical condition usually caused by migraine headaches where the victims see only the point directly ahead of them, as if through a telescope. Either definition suits my purpose in describing salespeople that look no further than the end of their nose for new customers – clueless.

Let’s back up slightly. Is it important for a company to continually seek out new avenues for the sale of their products? Even if a company has the best sales department on the planet, people who never lose a single customer, should they not continually strive to grow their business? My contention is that a company is doomed to stagnate and die if it stops focusing on growth. If for no other reason than the devaluation of the dollar over time (you can’t buy a gumball for a penny anymore, and you’re lucky if you get one for a quarter), a company must grow to stay alive. With the current inflation in the price of gasoline, staple of our economy, indicator of coming price hikes across the board, it is even more important to search out new customers! I won’t even mention increases in corporate taxes and the like. No, it is a simple matter. Raise the customer base or die a slow death. Salespeople who value their job should consider this while they rock along without avidly probing for new customers all the time.

Follow all steps to improve sales

The punchlist of sales survival

Searching for new business is not simply a matter of jumping in the car and heading out to see what can be seen, especially considering the rising cost of fuel. Gone, at least for now, are the days of the huckster keeping the road hot zooming between clientele, acting like the Big Wheel. It simply costs too much (cost of sales). Instead, salespeople must work smarter.
Here’s a punch list of things to do:

  1. Learn better selling techniques to increase the chance of making a sale each time in front of a prospect.
  2. Increase product knowledge to add on new products with current customers.
  3. Study sales routing to cut back on gasoline usage and vehicle maintenance costs.
  4. Plan ahead for more successful meetings (presentations).
  5. Schedule carefully to avoid extra mileage and wasted time in the car. [Use the daily call report wisely.]
  6. Make appointments as necessary and adhere to them religiously.
  7. Use the smartphone, text message, Facetime, fax or email to follow up on quotations and samples, rather than zooming over in person - unless the occasion warrants the personal touch.
  8. Assess any current advertisement scheme (radio, TV, fax, email, newspaper ad, Yellow Pages) to determine effectiveness with an eye toward maximizing impact.
  9. Promptly handle customer concerns to avoid losing business.
  10. Live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Salespeople, after gaining some experience and clientele, tend to view themselves as islands in a morass of ever-increasing demands on their time. Resist this urge of the ego. It is a fact of the job that the greater the sales totals, the greater the responsibility for maintaining those totals. Part of that job is to handle the paperwork. Perhaps the largest downfall of salespeople is allowing the paperwork to go unattended. Without proper handling of records, all of the above tips become moot.

Get off the beaten path!

End of the nose

Notice that pricing is not an issue I have listed when it comes to working smarter. Think of your company’s pricing schedule like this: if your company wants to stay in business, then it must compete. That’s the nature of an open market society. Supply and demand, for the most part, control pricing. In an inflationary market like we have now, with costs rapidly rising all around us, it is important for companies to analyze pricing closely and often. Salespeople should understand and convey to customers that prices must increase to cover rising material and production costs. This doesn’t mean that because a company raises prices, that it is trying to make a salesperson’s job harder. On the contrary, it is trying to balance competition with overhead to stay in business. Therefore, salespeople should look past the end of their nose when conveying “bad news.”

Searching for new business in an inflationary market is no picnic, though. Most companies are struggling to get a handle on costs versus pricing. Only a few companies flourish in rising markets, usually those producing new technology which cuts costs in some fashion, i.e., the latest riding automatic floor scrubber that replaces an employee, or the high-speed computer that makes fifteen older servers obsolete. Selling smarter today means coming up with innovative ideas to help customers at least maintain their competitive edge. [Let’s apply this theory to the pianist shopping for that new instrument which will meet his or her talent requirements. While a Steinway baby grand at $28,900 would be just perfect, but unobtainable at the moment because of the price, perhaps a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano, with near-perfect grand piano sound reproduction, costing only $8200, would suffice. It would be up to the salesperson to point this out.]

Don't let the nose rule!

Alternatives abound

There are always alternatives if a salesperson is farsighted enough to discover them and tell their prospective buyers. This takes planning; this takes innovation. Most importantly, this takes looking past the end of the nose at the bigger picture. Don’t get sunk in the rising price tide, and certainly don’t allow discouragement over tight pocketbooks to get in the way of making new sales. Don’t be clueless of the world of possibilities outside the tunnel; work smarter by broadening your view!

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