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Welcome To a Parity Market

1 Nov, 2006 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource

Welcome To a Parity Market

Yes, our market has become mature. With refined parity products it is now a
distribution game based on the number of selling organizations per market.
Expanding distribution obviously creates increasingly vicious competition for
every deal.  Success is thus directly proportional to the number of well trained
professional feet on the street.  Therein lies the problem.

It is not simply a question of how many representatives are on the payroll;
it is rather the ability of each representative to prospect effectively, manage
the selling process, and close more than their share of the deals. That is
specifically where dealers will either thrive or fail in this selling

As we travel the country talking with dealers and their sales people, we are
finding an increasing divide between those that invest in and properly manage
their sales organization, and those that don’t – arguing that they can’t afford
the investment.  That is absolute foolishness.  The selling organization is a
dealer’s most important asset, yet far too many still operate as if their sales
reps are inherently underachievers, and live with a predictable and expensive
high turnover rate. In these cases, their training follows a fairly defined
pattern. However, you can: 

  • Start by having them travel with a senior representative to learn by osmosis.
  • Put them through their manufacturer’s online product training program.
  • Bring in a manufacturer’s representative for more product training.
  • Have them spend inordinate amounts of time working products in the demo room.
  • Send them out to make cold calls and measure their efforts by the number of
    business cards they bring back.
  • Put them on the telephone to generate more leads. 

This may be an overstatement of the issue but it’ at the core of the
problem.  What usually ends up is a cadre of product and application qualified
representatives that simply do not know how to professionally prospect and
sell.  There are plenty of 6’ 5", 350 pound football players not in the NFL
because they were never given the basic skills to be competitive. 

To be competitive in today’s market, dealers should commit 1/3 of their time
and effort into training, directly managing and giving incentive to their reps. 
The ROI will be enormous.

There is no magic to what needs to be done. Work directly with your reps to:

  • Make telemarketing calls, including cold calls; write prospecting letters and
    use an alternative close.
  • Create a benefit statement.
  • Establish the importance and mechanics of developing a needs analysis, buying
    criteria, and pre-trial close.
  • Learn how to handle objections, that’s where the power lies.
  • Learn to negotiate and create a "win-win" situation.
  • Run Wednesday night meetings for role playing and improving selling skills.
  • Work with rep’s in the field; on a strict schedule with enough lead time to
    set appointments; critique and coach them before and after each call.
  • I constantly hear dealers complain that they have to get rid of a sales rep
    because he/she hasn’t sold anything for ninety days. My retort is always the
    same, "How much time have you invested in hands-on training and field work with
    that person over the last ninety days?" Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the
    world, but still has Hank Haney traveling with him as a swing coach.  There must
    be a very good reason why.

    To be competitive, we simply have to structure a professional and consistent
    sales training program.  We must teach reps how to fish for themselves – not
    simply catch the fish for them.

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