What’s Your Purpose?

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The content for this month’s Agency Sales is “Sales Technologies That Work.” With all the technological developments we’ve seen in the past couple of decades, there’s no doubt that the technologies for helping close sales has evolved right along with the rest.

All the great and innovative technologies in the world won’t help much if the salesperson doesn’t have the right sense of purpose. What’s your sense of purpose when you’re with a customer? Are you there to close the sale, to make the commission? If you are, you may be wondering why it’s not working out quite the way you expected.

I was that way until one of my principals put his manufacturers’ reps through a four-day consultative sales course. The first morning, we discovered purpose. All 20 of us in that session were asked by the leader “What do you think the purpose of your business is?” To a person, the answer was in one form or another, it was about the money.

Four hours later, we learned we all were wrong. The real purpose of our businesses was to help our customers solve problems in the most economical long-term manner. We also learned that you can’t fake a sense of purpose; it has to be genuine and come from the heart. For me, while I rationally knew what I had learned was correct, it took a while longer and constant focus every time I visited a customer for that sense of purpose to move from my head to my heart.

That one lesson I learned from the course fundamentally transformed my sales career in a very positive manner. Once I developed and internalized that purpose, my sales (and commissions) took off. Without a doubt, it was the most important lesson I learned in my entire sales career.

So what’s it going to be for you? Are you calling on customers to make some commissions, to make a few bucks or are you there to help them solve problems? Your choice.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

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The past, present, and future for a sales professional is ever changing with technological tools constantly being upgraded. I began my career before the technology boom. It is overwhelming to see the benefits from the past to the present and still realize I rely on the “old-boy” concepts.

Before all this technology came my way, it seemed that we had more face-to-face encounters with the companies we represented. Through national sales meetings and regional meetings we got firsthand information from the companies on a more personal level. We also had more product training and a better understanding of the company … Read the rest

One Rep’s Travels and Travails Through The High‑Tech World

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This isn’t your grandfather’s profession. As a matter of fact, given the way technology has altered the way the independent rep performs his job, this isn’t even your father’s profession.

With even the most cursory view, everything from the (now out-dated) fax machine, cell phone and its various “I” iterations, the Internet, video conferencing and rapidly evolving PCs and laptops, the grandfather of today’s rep would probably think the rep’s job can now only be performed from the deck of the Starship Enterprise. While that’s not exactly the case, the fact remains, today’s rep’s job has evolved — and continues … Read the rest

Mastering Productive Tech Tools

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Sage advice sometimes crops up in the most unexpected places. For instance, earlier this summer at the beginning of a television police show/comedy entitled, “The Good Guys,” one character advises another: “Instead of criticizing technology, why not learn how to use it?” That philosophy fits neatly into the subject emphasized in this issue of Agency Sales magazine.

Probably at no time before in history has technology impacted us more in general — and independent manufacturers’ reps specifically. Years ago, veteran reps maintain, all they needed to perform their jobs was a car full of gas, samples in the trunk, a … Read the rest

Rules of Social Media Marketing for Businesses Large and Small

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Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have put the power of the media in hands of the average citizen. Entrepreneurs, information marketers, and college students have learned that they can be the media for audiences both large and small. They have also learned that the nightly news and the traditional print media will share their stories. This shift in the “power of the press” carries with it three rules of social media marketing for businesses large and small. These three rules are:

  • Silence is not golden — it’s guilty.
  • The first story told is the story most retold —

Read the rest

Taking Business Networking To A New Level

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For any business, effective networking is an essential component to success. Today, though, the landscape of business networking has changed dramatically. No longer does business networking exclusively involve standing in a crowded room of people, meeting and greeting with total strangers, and exchanging numerous business cards. While such traditional networking is still valid and effective, e-networking done via business social networking sites is just as valuable.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about social networking sites, the fact is that they are here to stay. Sure, they’ll evolve over the years and will likely look very different than they do today, … Read the rest

Technology In Business Use It, Don’t Rely On It

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Grab your Blackberry and check your appointments, while you’re at it, see if any of your clients have posted anything worthwhile on Facebook, tweet your new prospect, check your e-mail for any new appointment requests and then go grab lunch — what a day! More and more sales professionals are relying on technology to drive sales and increase market share; unfortunately that is the first step to staying mediocre.

Getting sales professionals to find vertical markets and make outbound prospecting calls as well as setting sales appointments with prospective buyers (in person!) is still the best way to increase sales … Read the rest

Keep Your Workday Sanity:
Make the Most of Your Time

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With all the recent layoffs and the unemployment rate hovering around the double-digit mark, those who are still employed face a tough dilemma. On the one hand, they’re grateful for their job, but on the other hand, their workload may have become too much for one person to bear. In fact, many people are now doing the work of two or even three people. They have more responsibility than ever before, and they feel that there’s no way they can keep up. Their mantra has become, “There’s simply never enough time.”

Whether the issue is that you have too much … Read the rest

Backselling Pays Fast!
Return-on-Investment Can Be Big and Quick

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Over the past few years several rep firms have gotten the backselling message. Why? Because they saw the handwriting on the wall. In one case, a large rep firm lost a big piece of commission income. They realized they lost it because the management of the firm they represented had absolutely no appreciation of the value of their services.

How do your principals see your firm? Do you have any real idea? Don’t just evaluate your relationship with sales managers and regionals. What about customer service, engineering, marketing services?

Another rep firm felt it was time for a major upgrade … Read the rest

Manufacturers: Checklist for Interviewing Reps Six Predictors of Success

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Many of the manufacturing personnel who read Agency Sales are new to working with independent reps. Some of these managers will be involved in the process of selecting new representation for their company in one or more territories. But, many of these managers and some of their superiors do not have much experience selecting reps.

Relationships: There are many reasons to select a rep firm to carry your company’s products to market in a territory. Existing relationships with key distribution or end users is your first consideration.

Track Record: There is no question that a rep firm’s results with their … Read the rest

A Better Approach With Purchasing Departments

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It’s easy to view purchasing departments as evil. The number of salespeople who have told me stories about how much they can’t stand working with purchasing departments is huge! I’ve heard every reason “why” salespeople don’t like working with purchasing departments, but let’s cut to the chase.

When a salesperson does nothing more than bash a purchasing department, the only thing they’re doing is chipping away at their own personal motivation and credibility. Talking negatively or thinking negatively isn’t going to help the situation one bit. It’s more important to view the purchasing department as an asset to their company, … Read the rest

Turning The Tide In Your Favor

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Even the most self-assured and stoic among us feels the intensity of the times. The economic recovery seems quite elastic at best. Today’s good news can disappear as quickly as it appeared. The end of the economic drought isn’t in sight, as far as retailers are concerned. They continue their deep discounting in spite of having trimmed orders. It may be a good idea to prepare for even more demanding conditions.

In spite of this extended “dry spell,” we’re still faced with the necessity of doing business, of making sales and meeting customers’ expectations — and, yes, demands.

Here’s a … Read the rest