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No One Likes Salesmen

No One Likes Salesmen

Every organization that is a for profit sells something. But not all businesses see it that way. Thousands if not millions of dollars are invested in new equipment, new buildings and advertising their ventures or new ventures. But service organizations fall woefully short in my mind in emphasizing the investment that needs to be placed in their sales systems.

The reason for this, is many of these companies start out with a father, son, daughter or family member and never see themselves as sales professionals. They see themselves as plumbers, electricians, roofers, builders, or service providers.

They’ll live by the premise that “they hate salesmen”.  One once told me he’d rather see his IRS agent than a salesman.  I’m not sure how saleswomen escaped this same stereotype but good for them.

They’ll invest hours in new manuals, updated equipment, the next truck or vinyl to advertise on that truck. But never send their technicians to sales school which teaches the skills that has the biggest effect on the black and red of their budget. This makes no sense because techniques are easy to teach and learn that will improve their bottom line.

These systems can be made simply and duplicatable. What happens when a technician starts talking to a hectic business owner of a car dealership about their computer system but has no closing skills because of no training? We would like to believe product knowledge and rapport will get us in the door and keep us there. Rarely is that the case. As soon as we leave to sit and wait on that bid, the business is calling our competitors to see what they’ll do the same job for. That’s harsh but true more often than we’d like to think.

If your company is rolling like a well-oiled machine and sales doesn’t matter, good for you. But are you holding on your profit or giving away the house? Are you losing profit by not teaching your people how to build and hold that value? It’s a question you must answer.

What I want small business owners to understand is that teaching simple steps to your techs can train them into being a much bigger asset to your company. That increase in sales numbers can translate into higher pay for your them and you. The increased profitability can give your employees a greater wage, retirement and sense of job security. When they see you don’t have the skills to build value with clients on what you are providing them, they may realize your business may not be a long term stable solution. Their perception may become a future where your company may not be there. That isn’t a good feeling for an employee. Before becoming a business owner, If I thought a business was in big trouble, even I wasn’t going to wait to be the last one out the door. I started looking for my next employer. That sense of unease can spread rapidly within a small business. Without being extinguished, it can be the wildfire that closes your doors.

Stop giving away the bank. Search out someone, like myself, who can teach you and your staff a duplicatable system that will stabilize profit per job and increase the number of jobs sold. Beneficial Dynamics will change your bottom-line.

Credit Cards Shouldn’t Run Off Clients

See how Beneficial Dynamics can give you the sales tools to success.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit a small restaurant in rural. Because I am a salesman and cover a huge area, I visit a lot of diners. This was one that came recommended to me by local residents. Upon eating a very good burger I found out they had some serious issues with the installation of their point-of-sale system. I offered to be available whenever they needed help. Then I offered to assist them in completing the installation of their system even though they weren’t my client nor would they be for years because they were locked into a competitor’s long term contract. My offer came with the understanding that I would be getting extremely dirty in their ceiling with NO financial benefit to me. But I felt bad that they were left high-n-dry for months without the assistance needed to have the most productive installation of a system that isn’t cheap.
My next visit to their location was mainly to check on when I would be needed to help. When I entered, I was paying attention mainly to my phone because I was attempting to complete several tasks at once. I again ordered a burger and it was better than a fast food burger but nothing to be arrogant about. I spoke to the assistant manager and she informed me their electrician hasn’t given her a date yet for installation. I was, at this point, in a great mood. When I prepared to pay, this is where things went drastically wrong.
I was informed they won’t accept my debit card for less than $10 & my charge was only $7.25. I told her I understand being an agent for a processor, and she could just add $0.50 to cover their expenses. The manager says “that’s not our policy.” I said “ma’am if you don’t accept charges for less than $10, it’s because of the expense right?” She states “It’s our owners policy and if you don’t like it buy something else to reach $10 or pay cash.” This was followed by “did you not read the 2 signs on your way in?” Truthfully no, I was paying attention to my phone. I asked “ma’am you do understand I’m going to assist you in installing your POS system for free right?” Her response was “So.” So I went and got cash, paid $3 to BB&T to get out a $20, returned & paid my bill.
Today the owner called me and introduced herself. She wasted no time and started by telling me off. She then explained that just because I’m helping her that I’m not above her policies, her policy of not accepting charges under ten dollars is posted everywhere and that not accepting #creditcards for small charges has somehow increased her business. I tried getting across to her that the Cost of Customer Acquisition by far outways $0.28 she would pay for a client to run a cc transaction. She told me that their business has been there forty years so I must not understand what I’m talking about.
To this point, she hasn’t once apologised for the rude manner in which her manager talked to me but instead chose to double down on the rude confrontational manner. She never even took the time to thank me for assisting them in getting their installation right so my competitors POS system would operate in the best manner. To this I can only scratch my head and wish their competitors all the best.

Business Relationships Matter

Henderson & Associates LLC

Many times we go through our business relationships and see things as just business.    I couldn’t disagree more when I hear this. Businesses claim either switching suppliers, firing someone, or cancelling an order, “it’s just business”.

Saying it’s just business means it meant nothing to you.  It’s saying that money was the only aspect of the decision that mattered. I can assure you that this is rarely the situation or this is rarely a situation that could not have been avoided. There are steps that could have been taken to avoid your supplier, client or business associate from feeling that the relationship was just business.

What they are saying is that you made it just business. You failed to make some aspect of what you do different from another. Whether it was your followup, your understanding of what you provided to them, or your disassociation with their needs; something was lacking. If you sell products, how involved are you with your suppliers. Is your product a commodity like gas that has little difference from supplier to supplier or do you provide custom cabinets. If you purchase your products from a manufacturer, is that manufacturer willing to create a two way street of communication? Can that communication increase the value you bring to the table?

What I mean by this, when you reach out to someone that supplies you with product, are you doing more than ordering? Find a reason to assist them in assisting you. I love the phrase from “Jerry Maguire”; Help me, help you. Help me, help you.” It applies directly in this situation. Have you ever volunteered with them to field test some of their ideas? Have you ever had your sales manager call and speak to their product development team to discuss a feature that would change how they see you? This phone call could cause you a decrease in costs because you are involved in a bigger part of the process. It could also prevent them from looking for bigger and better sales partners because they see you as too integral in their development process and eventual profit.

If you supply a home service, what’s your finishing touch? Do you leave the house with that client amazed or do they simply think you did adequate? An example, Company A and Company B provide home security services to a community. Both alerted families during a rash of break-ins that saved them their goods and got the bad guys arrested. Company A finished the call and wished the family well. Company B finished the call, wished the family well, and followed up with a salesman visiting the home to make sure no new needs had arisen and the family felt safe with their present level of protection. Which company has set forth the best pathway that might lead to a referral?

Differentiate your company to people on both ends of your supply and sales chain. It can change whether you are in business in 5 years.

Make Hiring A Team Process

Your company needs three employees to fill the needs expressed by your team leaders. Your owner has signed off on bringing them into the fold but you have not figured out who will fill the positions.

If you are the typical company, human resources brings in new applicants and wades through the sea of people needing employment. Once they see who fits the minimum requirements, generally they’ll drug test who they see as the best applicant and then make an offer. This process has existed at many of the companies I have done business with and several of the ones I was employed by. Although it fills a need, it does not create a team member through a systematic process grounded in your company’s philosophy.

When the an aspect of your team has a vacancy, I highly suggest looking at more than the job when figuring out how to fill it. Ask a few questions. How does that job fit into the scheme? What is the upward or lateral potential with the position? What kinds of personalities exists that the new team member will need to coexist with? How long do you expect the employee to stay in the position before you expect him/her to be ready for their next position? Are there going to be any after hours obligations? Is this applicant willing to attend after hour events?

All of these things can help but then you need to narrow your field of applicants and engage them with the actual team they will be working with. Allow the team leader to come into your office and discuss in depth with HR why each has gotten past stage one to stage two of the hiring process.

My next suggestion will cost you an hour’s pay and $75. I think a lunch between the team leader and the applicants separately is the absolute necessary next step. Don’t put restrictions on the lunch other than it be one hour each. That hour is to allow the applicants guard to be let down and the team leader to get a better picture of personality. Ten minute discussions at work can be faked but in 60 minutes a person’s true personality normally will shine through. Once each applicant has finished their luncheon, the team can discuss each in a thorough way.

This may seem like a lot but their are costs in not doing it this way. In today’s litigious society, there are only so many questions you can ask former employers. If an answer the former employer was asked, influenced you to not hire someone, you can be sued for asking the question. You may not lose but is it worth the hassle. The next cost that be experienced is hiring the wrong employee. What if that employee causes a rift on the team? What if that employee has spends the next three weeks getting trained only to go work for your competition because they offer upward mobility you did not find out was important to them?

Envolve your team in the next hire and see if the rewards aren’t worth a few lunches.

Treat The Chamber Like A Weed Eater

I’ve been in business for many years now. I have exercised many forms of promoting what I do. I have been foolish enough to fall into poor forms of advertising. I have been scammed into ineffective programs with huge long-term contracts. And I have participated in organizational promotion setups.

By far, the best bang for my buck has been participating in local Chambers of Commerce. I have been a part of many Chambers and have met some phenomenal contacts through them. These people have, by far, been a great part of my success.

People like Kelly Thorsby at the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce have proven invaluable. She provides value in so many ways. She lets others know what I do and how it can assist them. Then there is Ginny-Kirk Andrews (@GinnyKirkDCC) at the Durham Chamber of Commerce who does everything in her power to find ways to connect your business to others whom you can help or who may be of use to you. I could go on with many people from various Chambers but it would just be reiterating the same sentiment.

Chambers of Commerce offer you multiple functions and educational events where you can expand your business. They offer website impressions and free luncheons and breakfast get-togethers. Each of them have unique chances to expose your community to the services or products you provide.

Now it’s time for me to get off my soapbox. You now know I believe in the Chamber of Commerce. But this week I ran into several people who spoke against Chamber membership and how it did nothing for their business. Each sounded out the same complaints. Yet when I asked simple questions like “Did you attend Business After Hours events?” Each replied with a resounding “No.” I asked about ribbon cutting events and none of them said they had. I asked each the name of the Chamber President for their respective chamber. Only one out of the four naysayers even knew the President’s name. I asked how many educational events they had attended and repeatedly got the answer none.

So I ask, “What product do you purchase but not use and still expect to work?” If you visit your local hardware store and purchase weed eaters, will it work itself? Will it unbox itself, fill itself with fuel, and walk itself around the home to rid you of weeds? Or must you make the purchase and follow that with action?

Stop treating Chamber membership like magic bullet and realize it’s an investment of time and effort.

Find the events that fit into your schedule. If your schedule is tight, find an employee that you can pay an hour’s wage to represent your business. Market what’s grand about your company to those around you. That marketing can result in connections that pay ten-fold for your membership. Chambers are staffed with professionals who know that their employment depends on promoting you. Without knowing you or your business personally, they are not able to be as big an asset to you.

Treat the Chamber Like Your Weed Eater.​

Is It Time To Expand

Preparing to take that next step in business is rarely done successfully on the fly. Many opportunities pop up. Rarely does that turn into success if the groundwork for that move wasn’t already in place. Expand today and it could be your greatest move. It could be your doom. So is it time to expand your operations?

I don’t want you to misread that as if I don’t think you should grab tight if something pops up on the radar that would be good for you or your business. What I’m explaining is that if you are to be successful in that new opportunity, you have to develop yourself and your team to handle the challenges. Learning on the fly can be both expensive and catastrophic. You must be prepared to handle additional workloads and financial requirements. Make sure you have explored what your capabilities are so this new venture does not cause failure.

An example of this is that if your infrastructure isn’t scalable (so you are prepared to open a new location), it can cause an implosion. Examine what has made you successful in your present location. That perspective should include an in-depth realization of each aspect of your present operation.

Know your people. Know what kind of attributes make each good or bad at what they do. Are you going to split your staff, keep the present locations’ employees, or hire completely new people? What effect would each of these moves have on your existing operation? How would each option affect your present customer base?

Understand the business environment your current location is in. Are the services or products you provide perfect for the present market in a unique fashion or is it easily transferrable? Does your present location have viable competition? Would the new location have similar advantages or disadvantages? Is the new location far enough away from your present to not negatively affect it’s revenue?
These questions and more should be explored before making expansion decisions. Make the foundation of your next decision on bedrock and not quicksand.​

I Almost Died Tonight

Those who know me understand I assist people when I can. I have posted in Facebook many a post about giving someone gas, buying someone lunch or changing a tire or two. When others drive by, I usually don’t. My parents raised me to pitch in and lend a hand when you are able. I have had a few hair raising experiences but the people I’ve met really give me more than I do them. I’ve met a single mothers who was raising five kids alone. I helped a black lady, who left me stunned by saying after I bought her dinner “and I don’t even like white people”. I’ve even been blessed enough to meet a grandfather who survived World War II. He spent the next 40 minutes at a Burger King telling me about life’s lessons and what he expected from my generation.

Well tonight was almost my last. The East Coast is experiening an ice storm. As I drove, I witnessed a woman up on the hill beside I40 with her blinkers on. I talked to her and realized she was afraid to get her Taurus off the hill. I drove it down the hill for her to realize her right rear tire was probably flat. I got out and realized it wasn’t. It had come completely off the rim. I realized I needed to quickly get the tire changed because it was dang cold outside. I changed the tire in less than ten minutes and put the wheel with the tire issue into the trunk. My hands were freezing so I probably could have done it faster. After placing the tire in the trunk, I took the tire iron and rechecked each lug. The next thing I heard was a scream from the depths of hell. I looked to my left and saw a very tall pickup heading directly at the right side of the back of the car. I freaked out and started backing up. This truck was completely out of control. As it swerved back and forth, I thought time was going slower than ever. As I backed into the ice, I lost my footing. I saw the Chevy Bowtie and totally thought it was over and I had helped my last person. I fell backwards and stretched out straight and turned my head to the side and hoped for the best. Truthfully, I feared for the worst. Before I realized it, the truck that had a lift kit, zoomed right over me. I rolled over and watched the truck go up the hill, down the hill and back into the highway. Again, I hear this lady screaming. I ran over and she saw me moving and instantly hugged me and started crying. I told her I was fine and the truck never touched me. I immediately told her to take her tire iron and get down the road because we weren’t safe off the road. She left crying and pretty shaken.

I spent the next 35 miles really freaked out. I drove without saying anything until my dad called. I don’t think I was that polite and I rushed him off the phone. Processing what just happened is still going on. I just came very close to getting hurt, maimed, or dying over a woman’s tire. But did I. What could have happened to her had I not gotten her out of the situation? I hope I’ve spent my days effecting others positively.

I live my life by the legacy I’ll leave. Do I help others? Do I show my kids an example I want them to live by? I try. I’m not perfect nor am I asking you to be. I’m not even asking you to pull over and help a stranded motorist. So what am I asking you to do?

Make sure if you didn’t show up to work tomorrow, someone would notice. Make sure that when people think of you, it’s the smile you brought to the room, the giggle you brought to the mood of the office or the kindness you showed to others. Make clients, co-workers and your boss think you matter through your actions. Do things that impact like lending a hand, offering an ear or mentor a junior employee.

STOP Hating On Success

I’d like you to think about your interactions with others. Are you the Negative Nancy? Are the person who constantly tells others to rethink what they’re doing? Do you secretly hope others don’t succeed? When someone in your circles blows it out of the park what is your feeling?

I’ve been in sales for many years and I have seen some of the most supportive reactions to success. My parents, siblings and co-workers for the most part have celebrated when I did well.

But this has not always been the case. One owner, Jerry Campbell, told me the easiest way to loose (superficial) friends is succeed. It’s proven true. While working for Jerry, I had a woman tell me she hated me. When she did this; I was curious. Was I cocky? Was I mean? Had I done something to her personally? So I asked her if I paid for lunch would she sit down with me for a few minutes? She accepted. At the time, I was closing 6 to 8 loans a month while she was closing one or two. When lunch started I knew I had a challenge in front of me. I wanted to know why I was hated and I’m sure explaining it to me wasn’t on her list of awesome for her day. I considered myself a nice guy and like most I wanted people to be liked. During this 45 minute meal, she laid out her reasoning to me. Everything landed in my lap. People gave me free referrals for businesses and I was never in the office to actually work. I asked her if she truly thought all of this was free? She said she emphatically believed it was because I was lucky, attractive and young. What she didn’t realize I was constantly visiting real estate agents, banks, and networking groups to fill my referral bank. I was driving 45 minutes each way for leads that led me into sales and referrals to help people that others had left with few options. When I explained that I would be on the road any nights until after 9 pm when my little ones were already fast asleep, she just looked bewildered. She then told me, she doubts any of that is true and doubts I worked at all most of the time. I realized I was fighting an uphill worthless battle and headed back from lunch. I should have realized that her opinion mattered not of me.

I am not meant to be liked by multitudes. To boot, those who don’t like me don’t matter. This doesn’t mean I should dislike them, it simply means I’m not their cup of tea. As I have gone on my professional journey, I have run into folks who told me I could not do this or that. I have run into folks who quit because an employer hired me as a sales manager over others who had been in the company longer and then walked into my office and told me I didn’t deserve where I was. I’ve taken opportunities and watched a valued friend tell me we weren’t going to be friends in the future because I no longer seemed like they were good enough in my eyes. He was telling me what my thoughts were based on the fact that we had headed into different career fields with different potential.

Little of this made sense to me when I was young. Some folks that you had or have a lot in common with can be some of your biggest deterrents of success. When you allow these people to alter the hieght of your balloon, you harm yourself. When you allow your mother/ father to tell you there’s no way to get the money for college, buy that car, or start that business, you allowing their ability to envision to become yours. If your family and friends only see themselves at a certain level, they aren’t always receptive to you becoming someone better financially, personally or professionally. If your buddy or neighbor convinces you that you can’t make money cutting grass, it usually means they can’t see themselves doing it so why should you.

Now, if this contributor others failure to leap is you, get out of the way. Bring wind to their sails instead of rooting for their fails.