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March 2004

Ask for the Sale!

Sales just happen if you set up shop and have a product. Right? No. Don't take your sales for granted. Even if a certain amount of income comes almost automatically from walk-in sales that seem to happen whether you do anything or not, every business has the potential to increase its sales results. By the way, you know walk-in has dropped precipitously. Right? (And you've planned for it?)

Certainly you must match your product to your customer. You do that by defining your core customer as I discussed in a prior article. Creating increased sales is mostly science, not art. Salespeople are supposed to have this skill when they come to work for you, but not all of them possess it to the same degree. As a business owner, you should never rely totally on the skill level of salespeople who come into your organization. Learn from every one of them. Investigate on your own the elusive cause behind increased or decreased sales. Read everything you can about how to generate sales. Talk to others in your industry. Follow their advice wherever it may apply. Experiment and monitor your progress.

You increase sales first of all by monitoring the actual numbers. How will you know something is working if you don't have metrics against which to weigh your results? (Don't forget how important metrics are, as discussed in a prior story.)

The production output of your sales staff is directly related to their belief in you and your company. Give them reason to believe in you. Ask them what you can do to help them increase their sales. Provide them with ongoing sales training as you can afford it. As a manager, you are the goal setter as well. Set their goals realistically from the numbers you are monitoring and ask them what they think their goal should be. Then, as they reach those goals for you, reward them accordingly. When they don't reach those goals, talk to them about why they think they didn't. Maybe you weren't realistic. Maybe they didn't work hard enough; maybe someone is not asking for the sale.

If you are directly involved in customer sales, then you'll want to be aggressive on the floor or phone by learning to ask for the sale. This is a key ingredient to increasing sales. Never put your customer off for a future sale. Ask them if they are going to pay by credit card or check. Ask them when they would like to have their purchase delivered. Always ask "closing" questions that can't be answered with a yes or no. How you do it is up to you, but don't let them go without asking for the sale.

Observing other businesses within the auto-recycling industry as well as businesses in industries where we're the customers, we see that too few salespeople actually ask for the sale.

What happens to a customer who walks away without committing? Watch what happens to you. Given time to think about it, you will likely talk yourself out of it. You will consider other alternatives or reconsider the price. You may just decide not to buy.

Make sure you and those on your staff are selling, not just going through the motions of this vital part of growing a successful business.

If your business has maintained a sustained period of non-growth, chances are realistic that you and your employees have fallen out of the habit of asking for the sale.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my free monthly auto recycling e-newsletter, with news and tips, register at www.autosalvageconsultant.com.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, (best) rons@rdsinvestments.com or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.

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