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Happy Holidays – You’re Fired!

Author: Bob Oros   |   December 13th, 2009

Regarding the subject line, unfortunately it is true for some folks.  Not through any fault of their own, but because of this fact:

The overall company could not sell enough products and services at a high enough gross profit in a certain amount of time to pay all their expenses.

In other words, enough sales are not being made.

With that in mind, the whole sales team is fired and you are going to be re-interviewed for the job.

Are you ready?  Depending on how you answer these 9 questions will determine whether you are back in business, or whether you have to stand in the unemployment line.

1.  Is there such a thing as a “Born Sales Person”?

People who think there is such a thing as a “born sales person” are very difficult to train.  They think that everything depends on luck or natural talent.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Successful sales people are eager to learn, study everything they can get their hands on, attend sales meetings and seminars with enthusiasm.  They understand that it takes hard work to be successful in selling.  If you are the type of person who fights against every policy the company has, thinks training is a waste of time, sorry, you’re fired.

2.  How long do you think it will take to become a true professional in sales?

Learning to be successful in a business as complex as selling takes more time than many people are willing to invest.  There are two time-lines.  The first is 3 years.  A person should give it everything they’ve got and not even make a decision about the business until they give it their BEST for 3 years.  The second time-line is 5 years.  Once a person is in sales for more than 5 years, it is very unlikely they will ever do anything else for a living.  However, the real answer is that a “professional” has no time line.  They are ALWAYS looking for ways to improve their skills!  What have you done in the last six months that you DID ON YOUR OWN TO BETTER YOUR CAREER?  Not something your company made you do?  If you haven’t taken any initiative in the past six months, sorry, you’re fired.

3.  How do you feel about accepting responsibility for someone else’s mistakes?

You are in a business that requires a chain of people doing their job efficiently.  If something goes wrong along the way the sales person is the one who takes the heat.  It is easy to blame someone else, however, the sales person has to be willing to take responsibility for someone else’s mistakes.  If they are unable to do it – the business will eat them alive.

Do you take full responsibility for the actions of your entire company, or do you take the easy way out and blame someone else?  If that’s the case, sorry, you’re fired!

4.  What is your definition of “Value Added Selling?

You are selling products made by the same manufacturer, same labeling, and the same cost, or providing the same services as your competitor.  The real value has to come from the sales person.  Value added selling is not looking at the product as much as looking at the service and attention-to-detail the sales person is willing to give.  The only true point of differentiation is the sales rep and the “extra value” is their relationship.

If I called ten of your customers at random and they complained about the service you are giving them, sorry, you’re fired!

5.  What motivates you to keep doing the things that are necessary for success?

A successful sales person has to be self motivated.  There is very little room in any industry for maintainers, for sales people who are willing to settle for minimum orders without being hungry for more.  Successful sales people have to be willing to do the things they don’t feel like doing.  No one likes to take a customer complaint call on a Friday night when they would rather be watching a movie.

It takes a special kind of personal motivation to be in sales today, and if you are not hungry for more, sorry, you’re fired.

6.  How well prepared are you when making a sales call?

To effectively call on between 25 and 50 or more accounts every week with the intention of increasing business with all of them requires a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of intense planning every week.  Friday afternoon or Saturday morning are the most important hours of the entire sales process.  It is important to put together a battle plan as if you are fighting a war.

A person who does not understand how to plan and the importance of putting together the details of each call they are going to make during the next week will never be on top of their business.  If you think detailed planning is a waste of time, sorry, you’re fired.

7.  How good are you about filing important pieces of information?

The important pieces of information are not only details about the customers business, but include all the personal data you can collect. Each customer should be treated as importantly as your best friend.  A successful sales person should know their family, hobbies, goals, and even their dogs name.

Personal information is power and if you are not willing to take extreme measures to get it and use it, sorry, you’re fired.

8.  What are some of the things you do to help control your expenses?

Even if the sales volume in your business is huge, the net profit margins are tight.  No matter what you are selling, you are in the penny business.  Costs can easily get out of control if the sales person is too extravagant when charging expenses to their company expense account.  If you look at your expense account as a second source of income, sorry, you’re fired.

9.  What is your biggest accomplishment and how long did it take to accomplish it?

We want someone who has a proven track record of persistence.  What have you done that has taken 2 or 3 years of sticking to it in order to accomplish the task?  If you don’t have a good story of persistence under your belt, sorry, you’re fired.

So the bottom line.  If you made it through the interview you are only half way there.  Your customer is next in line to hire or fire you.  And it’s a fact that 25%, on average, is the percent of customers who will tell you to hit the road next year.  Are you prepared for the interview with them?

Next year is going to be a year like you have never seen before.  You are going to feel the heat.  Heads are going to roll, companies are going to close and people are going to be wondering what happened and whom to blame.  You are going to have to work twice as hard to sell the same amount of business.

While your competitors are taking it easy and falling asleep over the holidays, use that time to sharpen your skills, get yourself organized and hit the street in January with so much enthusiasm it will be impossible to fail.

Be sure and pass this around to your team members.  Your job depends on everyone giving it everything they’ve got.


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