May '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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14 || P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 8 months. Whenever either graph shows four data points in the same direction, that's an early warning that something is askew and requires further evaluation as to why. • Use Occam's razor; the simplest explanation for a phenom- enon is usually the correct one. Let's suppose it's mid-May and your business hears from the IRS that your tax forms and payment have not been received, yet you are certain they've been sent. While you could entertain a scenario in which a competitor or disgruntled employee has taken your tax forms hostage as a means of getting you in trouble with the taxman, it's more likely that the post office or the IRS has lost or mis- placed your mail. When in doubt, don't fall for the convoluted answer. Simpler is usually right. • Use what you know and rule out obviously wrong conclu- sions. You know more than you think you know. Even the most basic facts will take you far. Sure, you could brainstorm the reasons why a piece of equipment has failed, but asking yourself what is different since the last time it was operating properly could lead you to the cause of the problem in half the time. Eliminating wrong answers is the first step on the way to deducing the right one. Common knowledge can take you uncommonly farther down the road to success. BONE #2: ALLOWING YOUR SALES TEAM TO SET PRICES It's been said a happy sales force is a productive sales force. But properly pricing your products and services is a management or marketing function and should be left in the hands of the people who have the most vested interest in the profitability of the busi- ness. For some reason, salespeople like to cut prices and give away pre- cious gross-margin points, often without the customer even asking for a discount, just to make the sale. The next time a sales person takes the liberty of lowering a price or habitually asks you to cut a deal for a prospective customer, remind them that the price for which anything is sold is directly related to the ability of that sales- person to sell. In other words, if the salesperson can't sell it for the published price, they may as well confess that they are not that good of a salesperson. If you want to keep your salespeople happy and motivated, try any of these suggestions: • Conduct regular sales-training sessions with plenty of sim- ulated skill practice. I love the lesson learned from another age-old proverb: "If you give a person a fish, they can eat for today. But if you teach them how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime." Yes, product-knowledge training is important, but it shouldn't be the cornerstone of your sales-training program for inside and outside sales reps or customer- and technical- service specialists. Your sales team will probably initially balk at role playing but stand fast and stay the course. The more you incorporate skills practice into their regular training, the less of a stigma there will be attached to it, especially if you conduct the sessions in the presence of their peers. • Build a compensation plan that is based on profitability, cap- turing target accounts and/or other desired outcomes. Every organization will predictably get the precise behavior from its employees that it recognizes, reinforces, and rewards. If you want to increase market share via outselling the competition, then offer meaningful, usually monetary, rewards when some- one exhibits the appropriate behavior and attains the desired YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER

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