March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 Your Personal Business Trainer BY VINCE DICECCO Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management sub- jects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is pres- ently an independent consultant to various apparel decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to | | | | A s a business coach and trainer, I'm often asked, "Is there an easy way to manage and grow our sales team?" Selling is hard, and I keep coming back to a formula that was drilled into my head when I first started: Sales success = Quality of sales calls X Allocation of time X Number of calls. It's a simple equation, but it makes every bit of sense when trying to understand why revenue numbers are what they are. In other words, what is the major contributing factor that caused sales to go up or down in a given month or quar- ter? The topic certainly warrants a friendly reprise, don't you think? Let's roll. QUALITY IS JOB ONE What is a "quality" sales call? I've heard it described as a sales conversation that meets or ex- ceeds the expectations of the prospective client and gives the customer the definitive impres- sion that his or her strongest unmet needs are being addressed and possibly satisfied. That's fine and dandy—from the buyer's perspective. But when a sales manager or business owner assesses the acumen of the salesperson, a quality sales call ought to be judged against the objective that was set prior to the con- versation and whether the point at which the call ended is any closer to an order or agreement to do business together. Call objectives should determine the rea- son of this meeting and what we want to come away with. They have purpose and a desired outcome and ought to be observ- able, measurable, and involve some sort of customer commitment. For example, if a salesperson said, "My call objective is to get to know this client better and improve our relationship," how would you determine if that was achieved at the meeting's end? Where's the customer commitment? On the other hand, if that same salesperson were to say, "My objective in this call is to qualify this opportunity—identify the decision-maker, calculate the sales potential, determine the creditworthiness of the account—and if he or she is a qualified prospect, ask for permission to conduct a site audit and schedule it." Setting a sound call objective, constantly assessing and re-evaluating the progress made along the way, and scheduling and preparing for the next step in your sales process can't help but raise the overall quality of your sales calls. RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME There's an old adage that goes, "When your ship comes in, you don't want to be waiting at the airport." Being in the right place at the right time and speaking with the right people often enough is the second component of sales success—allocation of time. There's good reason to segment your list of prospects into four classifications. Suspects are not yet qualified opportuni- ties. Qualified prospects are opportunities worth pursuing, but the principal deci- sion-makers have not yet expressed an overt interest in furthering the dialogue or doing business with you. Interested prospects are qualified opportunities with whom you have a clear, complete, and mutual under- standing of their situation, and they've ac- knowledged that you can potentially satisfy their needs, solve or prevent a problem, or make life better for them. Hot prospects are interested prospects who are close to mak- ing a decision—place an order, sign a con- tract, select a supplier, and so on. I favor dividing the prospect pipeline one more way—into active and stalled oppor- tunities. Simply put, a prospective account or opportunity is considered active as long as the next call has a scheduled date, time, and agenda. If the salesperson fails to set the next appointment with the prospect, the opportunity is considered stalled in my book. Want to raise your allocation-of-time fac- tor in the sales success formula? Fill your sales pipeline by consistently and conscious- ly prospecting and seeking new leads, refer to the list and update it often, keep as many opportunities active as possible, and call on each prospect frequently enough to improve your chances of advancing them along. A good rule of thumb for prospecting and generating fresh leads is to set aside 20 per- cent of your available selling time for such efforts and activities. Likewise, follow up Leading a Successful Sales Effort Tracking the right metrics drives momentum and success • Suspects • Qualified prospects • Interested prospects • Hot prospects

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