Salespeople have questions and Jeffrey has answers

April 5, 2009
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I get a ton of e-mails asking to solve sales dilemmas. Here are a few that may relate to your job, your life, and most important, your sales thought process right now.

Jeffrey,

In the current economic downturn, how should I attempt to sell to municipalities that have no funding thru the budget? — Chad

Chad,

The answer is: You cannot sell where there is no budget — unless you’re willing to take future payments against future budgets. My recommendation for you would be to find another resource because municipalities will be hurting for the next five years. — Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

I have been unable to find a happy solution to something that has been bugging the heck out of me for years and I would truly appreciate your opinion on this. I am in direct sales and have been for 12 years. I have been running my own company for six years. We sell custom-made clothing to private clients. We have never discounted from list price, as I believe it to be the weakest sales tool in the box — if it is even a sales tool! I also believe (probably wrongly) that there are people who are absolutely focused on price and price alone. Experience, product and service come secondary to the idea that they have managed to get a deal — however trivial.

Do you think it is ever okay to offer a discount, or is it (as I believe) the last refuge of the damned? Is offering a discount for large, bulk orders sound practice, or are you just devaluing your enterprise? Many thanks in advance. — Iain

Iain,

Have a one-time special on something like custom shirts for existing customers only — say, maybe for the month of April — but, in order for them to get the "deal," they must bring a friend to experience your quality, and the friend can get a few shirts, as well.

This will honor your existing customers and also get you new customers. Consider the discount as a marketing expense. This will work. — Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

How do you recommend I sell to a company that’s “weathering the tough economy?”

I have a young company and I’m trying to close that crucial first sale. My product is an advertising/marketing solution, especially advertising for credit card companies. As you know, advertising is one of the first places where companies scale back their spending (even though tough times are the best time to ramp up advertising). My selling proposition is NOT for companies to increase advertising spending. In fact, my proposition is that my product will decrease advertising spending and augment the effectiveness of their other advertising effort. — Jeromy

Jeromy,

Stop using the word advertising. Nobody wants to advertise, but everybody wants what advertising does. Focus on words like “increased sales,” “increased traffic,” “increased exposure” and “increased profit.” The key to your sale lies in the customer's ability to see what is in it for them and act accordingly. — Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

What is your inspiration for writing? How do you think of your ideas? — Morgan

Morgan,

I pay attention. I think. I read. I wonder. I create. And I observe everything and everyone around me. Those elements form the basis of idea generation. The secret is the more positive your attitude, the more likely you’ll have a great idea. The BIG secret is to capture your idea immediately: on your laptop, on your cell phone, on a piece of paper — anywhere you can — because it’s likely you will forget it. I learned this lesson the hard way: thinking of a great idea and telling myself not to forget it, and not writing it down. Gone. — Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

What advice do you have for those of us who have been laid off and are now forced to re-enter the interview world?  — Steven

Steven,

Don’t ask about salary. Let them talk about it first.

Don’t ask about benefits. Let them talk about them first. If you need to find out about health benefits, and the interviewer has not broached the subject, ask a secondary question that seems to put the burden on you. (“Do I pay for my child if he goes on the health care program?”)

Don’t ask about vacation. They want to know how you will work, not take time off.

Don’t ask about sick days. They want to know how you will work, not take time off.

Don’t ask about holidays. They want to know how you will work, not take time off.

Don’t ask about raises. They want to see how you will earn, not hear you ask for more money before you start.

Do prepare yourself for the interview. Look polished. Have a list of questions. Act confident. Be confident. Tell the truth. Be polite. Try to involve the interviewer (take the tour, take the coffee, ask questions). Ask intelligently. Answer intelligently. Act and react positively or in a positive manner. Be enthusiastic. Ask closing questions. Follow up on the day of decision.

Do write a note of thanks that: thanks the person for a great interview; tells the person that you're enthusiastic about the prospect of becoming a  member of their team; says that it's just the position you've been looking for, and you're confident you will do a great job; says that you appreciate his/her careful consideration; says "I hope I get a chance to prove myself."— Jeffrey

Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com

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