Attention sales managers: Train your sales reps to make the “right sale”…not just any sale
If you want to be the online directory that succeeds in the long run, train your sales reps to make the “Right Sale”…not just any sale. When your sales rep returns to the office and proudly announces, “I just made another sale”, how do you react? Do you shake their hand, congratulate them, and then tell them to go get two more? Or, before showering them with praise and encouraging them to make another sale, do you ask them for details about that sales interaction? Are you interested in how that sale was made, or more importantly…if it was the right sale? Making a sale is the goal of any sales interaction. It’s a great feeling for both the sales rep and the sales manager, but there are consequences when a sale is made and not sold correctly.
In 2009, it seems like there are more companies offering online advertising solutions than ever before. With the decline in print advertising, many companies that previously offered only traditional media (i.e, yellow pages, newspapers, direct mail, etc.), now offer an online solution as part of their advertising mix. In addition, many other “online only” companies have sprung up targeting small and medium-sized business owners.
Imagine being a small business owner today and being called on by all of these different companies claiming to have the best online ad solution for your business. Questions such as, “Should I hire an expert to help me promote my company online or should I try to do it myself,” and “If I try to do it myself, is it complicated, and how much of my time will it take?” As they go through these types of questions, the next question they might ask is, “How do I decide which company will do the best job for me?” And, “How much should I invest and how will I know if it’s working?”
Companies who sell online advertising to small and medium-sized businesses constantly balance the need for a high volume of sales and at the same time, making sure those sales are quality sales. But are they balancing both, and what is the definition of a quality sale (or as mentioned before…the right sale)?
There is an old saying in sales that goes, “You can sell anything to anyone once”. But the true measure of whether or not it was a quality sale, or the right sale, is if the person who bought that product or service would buy from you a
gain? This is the dilemma that seems to be happening in the world of selling online advertising today. Sales reps from all walks of life are flooding the marketplace making phone calls and knocking on doors to make as many online ad sales as they possibly can with their main focus and goal being high volume. There even seems to be a number that has been established within the “Reseller” community of online advertising that says, once you have achieved over 5000 sales, you are now considered to be successful.
There is little doubt that any online directory company achieving 5,000 or more advertisers is doing something right, but what if those sales were not made properly? One way to determine the quality of those sales and whether or not they were the right sales is to look at the percentage of those business owners who buy again when their contract comes up for renewal.
So, the question remains, how were those sales made? What did the sales rep say to make the sale? Was the business owner asked to “Give it a try and see if it works” based on an initial low investment and short-term trial? Were they guaranteed a specific number of clicks to their listing or to their website? Were they guaranteed specific placement on the major search engines like Google or Yahoo? What were the business owner’s expectations and how to they determine success? If they were promised a specific number of clicks and then received that number of clicks…regardless of the quality of those clicks?
Some sales managers do ask these questions. Others don’t and may not feel they have the time to ask those questions. There is another old saying that goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression”. Many business owners are confused when it comes to online advertising and don’t have the time to spend trying to figure it out or manage it themselves. That’s the reason why they would buy from an online company in the first place. That doesn’t mean whoever gets to the business owner first always wins…especially in the long run. It means, when your sales reps have the opportunity to sell online advertising to a business owner…don’t screw it up! Just because they bought from you once doesn’t automatically mean they will buy from you again…and that’s the point.
Train them to make the right sale the first time. The good part is that it doesn’t take that much more time to make the right sale, if any (once you know what you’re doing), but the short and long-term payoff is huge.
Making the right sale means the sales rep has taken the time to fully understand what the business owner is trying to accomplish. For example, if they are talking to a plumber (I know I know…we always use plumbers as an example…stay with me on this point), the sales rep needs to know what type of plumbing work they are trying to go after. A “plumber is not a plumber is not a plumber”. Each is unique in some way. It’s the sales rep’s job to find out how they are unique. Are they mainly interested in residential repairs? Is there a specific percentage of their business that comes from commercial accounts like restaurants or hotels, etc.? Do they offer any type of kitchen or bathroom remodeling? Do they offer a combination of all of these things? Also, how many trucks do they have? What areas do they cover? How many more jobs can they handle in a day, or week, or month? What is the average profit for each of these jobs? If they bought an online advertising solution, what is their definition of success? You get the idea.
All of these questions (and this is just a rough example to make a point), will have a dramatic impact on the type of online advertising recommendation that should be made to the business owner. Getting a business owner clicks and calls is only part of it. Making the right sale means you focus on helping the business owner attract the specific types of customers they want, the specific number of customers they can handle, etc. Not just any clicks or calls you can get them…the right ones!
The online company (who has a solid online advertising solution) that can train (and reinforce) their sales reps to make every sale, the right sale, will be the company that will succeed in the future.
Vice President of Training and Development