Free Sales Advice - Ask Gus

Questions:
What is "the rule of seventy eights?" How do I use this "rule" in planning how to attack my quota and maximize it?

I'm finding that cold calling is leaving me more and more burned out. When the mortgage market is saturated with dozens and dozens of competitors. What would you recommend to stay stable?

I keep calling but can't get them to call me back.

I've been given a territory selling office equipment.... What's the best way to identify prospects quickly?

How can I do a better job of forecasting my business?

I have a question regarding sales materials and promotional items.

Question:

Gus,
I am new to sales and keep hearing about "the rule of seventy eights." How do I use this "rule" in planning how to attack my quota and maximize it? How would my management use it to set my quota?

Kate

Reply from Gus:

Kate,
Hi, I had never heard of the rule of 78 used except in terms of a loan. I found someone on the web who referred to the rule of 78 in their training. I think it refers to laying out management by objectives and then tracking your results along the way.

For example, your boss will sit down with you and lay out what your quota will be, how many calls he expects you to make etc. He will check with you on a monthly basis to see how you are doing against the plan. This is only an educated guess. If you ask your manager to explain it to you, let me know what you find out.

"The "Rule of 78" applies to the sale of a reaccurring revenue producing service/product much as it does in a financial setting. I use the "Rule of 78" as a tool to create, manage and measure a salesperson's goals and quotas."

Once defined and explained it allows the Account Executive to better control their business and degree of success throughout the course of a fiscal year.

Thanks for your question.
Gus

Question:

Gus, My question is, how does a salesperson stay prosperous in a rising market. I'm finding that cold calling is leaving me more and more burned out. When the mortgage market is saturated with dozens and dozens of competitors. What would you recommend to stay stable. any ideas?

Richard

Reply from Gus:

Rick,
It is easy to get burned out cold calling in a market with lots of competition. One of the things that you have to remember as a professional salesperson is that you have to constantly look for ways to motivate yourself so you don't become burned out.

You said that you are in the mortgage business. I know that because rates are so low now, there is a lot of competition in the market. One of the things you need to do is step back and think how you can make yourself unique? Maybe you identify a niche market that you like to work with, it could be by vertical market, geographical market, type of loan or size of loan. Let's take an example of a vertical market. Maybe you develop a special knowledge regarding self-employed clients. Maybe they have a harder time qualifying because it is harder to document their incomes, etc. If you can develop an expertise in this market, you could then go speak in front of the local business clubs and as a public service to the club members. Ask to speak in front of their breakfast or lunch meetings about the unique services that you and your company provide to self-employed clients.

The burn out you are seeing comes from the mass-market approach that everyone else is using to blanket the market. Instead figure out a well-defined market niche and become an expert in that area. People in that same market who use your services will recommend others in the same market, and now you have become an expert in that unique space.

Hope this helps,

Gus
SalesBullpen.com

Question

Gus,
Hi, offering personalized sales advice is a great idea. I have a prospect that I keep calling but can't get them to call me back. What should I do?

JH, Dallas, TX.

Reply from Gus:

Dear JH,
First, find out if there is a good reason why your prospect isn't returning your calls. Is the person out of town, on vacation, etc. You can find out by talking to your prospect's secretary or someone else at the same company. If you can't find a good reason why this person is not calling you back, then maybe you haven't given this person a good enough value statement to return your call. Try one more time to leave a personalized, benefit statement. Try putting a "fuse" on the message. Leave your message and in the message state that if you don't hear back from this person by Wednesday for example, you will stop calling this person and try back in 90 days.

The bottom line is that if you have to chase the prospect, chances are either there isn't a need at this time or you haven't presented any real value to the prospect. I give prospects 3-4 chances before I decide to no longer chase them. Besides, you don't want to waste too much time chasing the same prospects over and over. Move on to other new prospects that might really want to talk with you.

You might be calling on the wrong person in the organization. Have you thought about calling higher in the organization? Another way back in is to put this person on your email marketing list and then hit them on a monthly basis with your email update that you send out to all your prospects.

Be a bulldog,
Gus

Question:

Dear Gus,
I've been given a territory selling office equipment. I haven't been given very many leads. What's the best way to identify prospects quickly?

RM, Portland,OR.

Reply from Gus:

Dear RM,
There are several things that I would suggest. First, I would get a map and trace out exactly where your physical territory is located so that you know what it looks like. Then I would try to find out from your sales manager who the installed base customers are. Start to build up a database or list of installed customers and go meet with them. Introduce yourself and find out why they like your products, why they chose your company, and if they would be a reference for you with new prospects. Ask these customers if there is something else you can provide for them in terms of sales or service. Often, customers feel there is no interest in them beyond the initial sale. Go drive your territory street by street and note where the business areas are located. Note all of the potential businesses as you drive around and start to create your list of prospective customers. Stop into any large, multi-story buildings and get the names of the tenants in the building. If someone asks you what you are doing, just tell them you are doing marketing/business development. You might also consider getting a listing of prospects in your territory from a lead source service on the web. You can check with companies like infoUSA.com, the lead services offered by Microsoft's
www.bcentral.com, or any other lead services that might look promising. Don't forget to get a copy of the latest yellow pages and go through that source. You can also use Yahoo or Google to do a check of particular vertical markets in your area or www.smartpages.com (electronic yellowpages).

The whole idea is to identify the prospects then find out some information about them by checking to see if they have a webpage and trying to understand a little about their business. Once you understand what the prospect does, try and formulate a solution that you can provide that prospect and what the value or benefit is to that prospect by using your product. Maybe your product has some new feature that can translate into big savings over how people do business today. You can try out your approach with those installed customers you have to see if it would get their attention. There is more information listed in my book.

Gus

Question:

Dear Gus,
My sales manager is always on us for being able to forecast our business better. Right now it is mostly a guess when a deal will close because things always seem to come up. How can I do a better job of forecasting my business?

DR, Orlando,FL.

Reply from Gus:

Dear DR,
Forecasting is a big part of being a good, professional sales person. It shows that you are in control of your business and that you have your sales pipeline well managed. As a manager, I would rather have someone forecast $10K of business each week and know that it will come in, rather than someone who misses their forecasts week after week and then comes in with a $100K order after 60 days. Your sales forecast gets fed into the corporate planning system which affects the rest of the organization. The factory can't build products based on poor sales projections. This affects product delivery times, post-sale installation resources and so forth. That's why sales is really the heart of any organization.

In my book, I talk about using the Planned Sales Process(, which uses a way to qualify the prospect up front using a planned process with events and dates that are agreed to up front. These steps and dates will help you do a better job of forecasting when the deal will close. It also gives you a way to measure your progress with your customer. There's a saying that says, “if you can't measure it, then you can't manage it” Use the Planned Sales Process or something similar to help measure where you are with the prospect. This will then help you forecast when your deals will close.

Gus

Question:

Hello Gus. I have a question regarding sales materials and promotional items. We have a significant amount of high-quality written sales material and a variety of promotional items (i.e. pens, notepads, etc.). Although they are quality items with great messages, I feel that we could be utilizing them more to our advantage. Do you have any general advice about using such materials? Thanks.

KCB -- Minneapolis, MN

Reply from Gus:

Dear KC,
Hi, thanks for your question. First, look at your marketing materials and sales literature and make sure that they reinforce the same message that you are putting out to the market. I don't know what that is, but just for the sake of discussion, lets say it's "Quality care because we really care" or something like that.

Your marketing and sales literature should support your main marketing theme in what it says and help to educate your potential clients about why you do provide quality care through your services, the number of people on staff, the procedures you use, etc. People read marketing literature to get more information about who you are as a company and why what you say as your theme is true. In other words, proof points -- to back up what you say. Your message needs to be clear, concise and easy to grasp.

You should also think about different levels of marketing support material: one page glossy for say different parts of your programs. These one page glossies can then be put together to create a "complete" program and handed out to someone who wants to see all that you offer, or you can selectively mail out some of the glossies based on what people are looking for. Then you can add cups, pens, post-it cubes, or whatever you think will fit your image, your message. Some of these things are ways to keep a reminder of your services in front of the client.

Think about using the electronic newsletter idea in my book to create a monthly email newsletter update for everyone you come into contact with. This is an easy and inexpensive way to stay in touch with people and encourage feedback, etc. You can keep people up to date, talk about new programs you've introduced, and tell a story about one of your current clients and how they are happy with your services. Start with your existing clients and then make sure you collect the email addresses of any prospects, etc.

Hope this is what you were looking for. Let me know if you have more questions.

Thanks,
Gus

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