Sign & Digital Graphics

June '19

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32 • June 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS here. Likewise, the way you market— advertise, offer customer support, price your products and the like—is not remarkably different. Generally, the same holds true for the way products are made, packaged, delivered and the technology incor- porated to make, apply or use them. Understandably, you may argue that your business is completely different from your competitors. So, why are prospective customers so willing to tell you "Look, I can have the same graphics made down the block" or "I don't see the difference in your (insert your most popular offering here) and somebody else's"? If all those components are fairly equal, the only thing remaining is the strategy a business engages to win the favor of its customers—vis-à-vis the way it sells. In your company, how high do you prop up your sales people? How much do you empower them to make smart business deci- sions on the fly—on the front lines face-to-face with custom- ers? Perhaps the first question to be asked is "how well have I prepared them to represent our company?" Motivate Without the Hype One of the most basic principles of leadership and manage- ment is that an organization will repeatedly observe behavior that is reinforced, recognized and/or rewarded. Let this concept guide you as you pump up your sales force. Not long ago, I was fortunate to be part of a project that stud- ied the factors that led to job satisfaction among sales people. The focus group was asked to list the most important factors that contribute to the ideal job. Here is the Top Ten list (in the order of most frequently given answer): 1. A sense of achievement / making a difference 2. Money 3. An open, honest work environment 4. Increased opportunity / empowerment 5. The challenge of the job itself 6. An increased sense of self-worth 7. Job security 8. A good boss 9. Formal recognition / awards 10. Team spirit / camaraderie / esprit-de-corps How many of these factors are present or available to your sales force? Not sure? Surprised that awards and recognition are so far down the list? I was. Could you introduce and capitalize on more of this list with your sales force? Probably. Here are some suggestions on how to bolster the morale of your sales effort that are easy to do: Hold all-employee meetings and bring in your sales people to share a success story about how your products and services solved a problem for one of your customers. Don't try this with- out first approaching the sales person well ahead of the meeting so they have time to prepare their thoughts. Have them present the case. There is a strong possibility the sales rep will use the opportunity to publicly thank other colleagues "back at the ranch" that made the achievement possible. Share your financial statements— e.g. profit and loss statement, balance sheet—with your sales people. Point out where you would like to see improvement in certain line items. Generate sales reports of profitabil- ity by customer account. Sales people can be myopic when it comes to their day-to-day activities—concentrating on "moving the groceries" rather than whether their efforts produce profits. Some business owners are reluctant to divulge the contents of the books. I get it. If that's the case, redact or remove the sensitive data that you don't want made public. Wise owners use this valuable information to draw insight, educate sales people, and inspire them to act entrepreneurially. Annually, sit down with each sales representative and together set stretch goals using the acronym SMART—specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Don't reduce the goals to only hitting the sales numbers. Some great areas for goal setting include profitability, expense control, number of referrals or testimonials from clients, attrition control and closing key target prospects. Invest in training your sales people in the soft skills of selling—listening, probing with a purpose, interpersonal relationship building, and promise-keeping, to name a few. In my experience, the hours dedicated to sales meetings are typically spent on passing along product knowledge and addressing or solving internal problems. Brainstorm with your sales folks to identify the specific, observable behaviors of good listeners, leaders, and high integrity individuals and discuss those. Incorporate skill identification and practice (aka the dreaded role play) and case studies to spice up the discus- sion. You may want to consider bringing in an outside sub- ject matter expert to facilitate the short but powerful training. The potential return on your efforts to pump up your sales force is limitless. Don't be surprised if a brief intervention into this arena yields bountiful and immediate results. Good luck. SDG One of the most basic principles of leadership and management is that an organization will repeatedly observe behavior that is reinforced, recognized and/or rewarded. Let this concept guide you as you pump up your sales force.

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