Canadian Vending

Features Business Staffing
Reflections In A Cup: Work Ethics


June 17, 2008
By Stuart Daw

Topics

If you were to survey a group of salespeople with the question, “What
is the toughest thing you have to face in doing your job?” the most
popular answer would likely be some variation of: “cold canvassing, or
introducing myself to a new prospect.”

If you were to survey a group of salespeople with the question, “What is the toughest thing you have to face in doing your job?” the most popular answer would likely be some variation of: “cold canvassing, or introducing myself to a new prospect.”
 
They might also cite the straight-line relationship between one’s fear and the relative size of the prospect (no, I don’t mean the prospect’s weight or physical size, but the amount of potential business he represents). And maybe that is because when a salesperson strikes out with a little account it’s no big loss, so why not only call on small accounts to minimize losses and save the big fish to visit some other day.

In most companies, much time and effort is spent on training salespeople to minimize the fears involved in the selling game. And, of course, no two people have the same talent, intelligence, confidence, appearance, and all the other variables that play a part in success, and not all of which are under the sales person’s control.
 
Lately, however, it seems to me that professional sales programs are placing more emphasis on personal work habits, as opposed to presentation techniques.

Given only so many hours in a day, a week, or a year to earn one’s living in sales, and given a specific amount of ability, then obviously the more contacts that are made, the higher the number of closes that will be obtained.

Advertisment

If you are a salesperson, how do you maximize your income through making the highest number of sales calls?
 
First, one is not normally paid for the number of contacts made, so there is no point in setting goals for the number of those contacts without the self-discipline necessary to ensure consistent quality in the presentations you actually do make.
 
In other words, promising yourself that you will make twenty cold calls daily doesn’t mean that you should treat those calls as if they were pit stops at the Indianapolis 500, setting new records for how quickly you can get them done so you can finish your work day on the early side.

Set a steady, deliberate pace. Establish a standard number of calls with which you feel comfortable, then pledge to yourself that you will religiously follow that regimen. If, in your business, telephone calls are a part of the routine, then also set benchmarks for those.

In my very early days as a young coffee salesman (circa 1950), I was aware that there were something like 5,000 eating places in Toronto, and that we at the old Club Coffee Company only had around 100 of those.
With 250 working days in a year, if each eating place only had one coffee problem with its supplier each year, that meant that on an average day 20 of them were ready to talk to someone about a change. The trouble was that I never knew which 20 they were.
 
So I tried to make 20 calls per day, meaning that in the 250 workday year I would see 5,000 foodservice outlets, and the odds were, even if I hadn’t been that great a salesman, I was sure to bump into a few good prospects. And in fact that’s what actually happened – by 1963 Club Coffee was supplying some 2,000 eating places in Toronto.

Some days you won’t feel like making your quota of calls, and some days, as in mid-winter, snow will clog the roads, or in spring a friend will invite you to a game of golf. Indeed one cannot begin to chronicle the number of distractions that can be encountered. But you can draw a simple two-column chart, on one of which is entered the running total of calls you have projected, and on the other the actual number you have made. Don’t let yourself fall behind. If you only make five one day, try for fifteen the next.

So follow the old cliché – plan your work and work your plan. That way you can be true to your own potential, however limited you may have thought that potential to be.