February 2, 2010

Little Things Count! And They Can Add Up to Big Business

By Thomas P. Reilly

Have you ever noticed it’s the small, simple, day-to-day routine frustrations that cause most of our daily grief. Rush hour traffic, long lines, back ordered items, uncaring salespeople are all frustrating and unnecessary annoyances to most people. When big things go wrong, however, we all seem to cope admirably. As evidence, remember London’s World War II blitz.

If this principle is true, we can also use it to our advantage in sales. If the small things that happen over a period of time cause us to lose the business, then the obvious solution is to turn this phenomenon around and focus on how to apply it positively.

Manage the details. Salespeople who commit to managing the details sell more professionally.

Developing the proper mindset is a start to managing the details. Instead of trying to change your personality, realize the importance of these details. Even though they may not be important to you, they are important to the customer. Thoroughness, follow-through and initiative impress customers. Make a checklist of management details for each account and review it weekly. Stay focused and be persistent.

Here’s a partial checklist of details salespeople must manage for successful selling:

Ensure that the customer’s orders are correct: item number, quantity, size, etc.

Proposals must be comprehensive and accurate. Include as much collateral support as is needed.

Make sure your correspondence is on target: precise, clear, and relevant.

Customers like regularity in sales call habits. Develop a pattern for when you call on customers.

Keep good records and master your paperwork. Salespeople who score poorly in this area fail to realize their full potential. It’s essential to get the sense of structure, order and discipline that paperwork offers. It promotes managing the details.

Checking your briefcase weekly for note pads, pens, literature, clean business cards, etc., helps you avoid forgetting something for a sales call.

Weekly planning sheets with spaces for phone calls, projects, and follow-up items help you better organize your time.

Another detail to manage is planning sales calls, setting call objectives and briefly recapping your sales efforts after the call.

Use a colored highlighter to emphasize key benefits in your literature.

When leaving messages for customers, include a time when you’re available.

Inside personnel in your company are a great asset when you’ve explained in detail what the customer expects.

Personal appearance plays an important role in the customer’s perception of a salesperson’s habits. Think of the mixed signal you communicate when your product message is quality and your appearance is messy. It’s an inconsistency customers recognize.

Will handling any one of these details guarantee your success in sales? We can’t say for sure that it will. But we can say that failing to manage these details will seriously impede your performance.

There’s an old saying, “If you want to eat an elephant, you do it one bite at a time!” Managing the details is a lot like eating an elephant. Focus on one detail, complete it and move on to another.