If you have more than a couple of employees, ask
them to give you at least three ideas of what you (their company)
can do to increase their sales. Point out to salespersons that
if their suggestions increase their individual sales, their income
will increase as well.
Don't open up a Pandora's Box with this. Limit
this inquiry to three good answers from each salesperson or employee
so that they will be more thoughtful about and specific with their
answers. Require them to write them down, not just verbalize them.
Offer a prize; say $100, for any idea utilized.
Here are three good ideas that came back to me
when he did this many years ago.
My operation had a key-phone system, the kind
with buttons along the bottom for different lines, where a light
goes on when a line is in use. An employee would have to shout,
"Joe, line three!" or whatever, when a customer asked
for a specific sales customer representative. The first good idea
suggested was implemented almost immediately with the installation
of a quality electronic phone system.
The second profit-making idea to come from my
employees was arranging to accept American Express credit cards,
something I had not already done. Most of our wholesale accounts
started paying with American Express because it's a business credit
card. They didn't pay with Visa or Master Card, especially the
larger accounts; so this idea made us a lot of money. Since I
didn't talk to customers directly, I didn't realize that the customers
had been asking if they could pay with American Express. Our business
revenue went up almost immediately by $50,000 a month!
The third suggestion that came into being from
my employees was a failure. It was to take on one of those programs
that, for 3%, guaranteed a customer's check on a C.O.D. shipment.
My team soon learned that most customers were unwilling to pay
the 3% service charge and that, if I was to absorb it, it would
take too much away from my sales margin. I also tracked the number
of C.O.D. sales before and after setting up the guaranteed check
system and found that the sales did not go up following its installation.
So that idea was a failure.
The first idea allowed something else. It added
scalability to the sales floor. Sales increased because of the
improved communications, and the increase allowed me to hire more
sales staff, while I went on to grow the company.
Though the last idea did not work to increase
sales, it did increase the employee's feeling of worth about the
company. Asking the opinion of your employees brings them more
into the picture of success. When they truly feel they are contributing,
they will be more loyal. It's a win-win management technique.
Besides, I didn't think of it, and it could have worked to serve
a greater profit. Your employees are your representatives at the
point of sale. They can bring back valuable information, ideas
and experience you might otherwise overlook.
So keep your ears open to their voices. You'll
build loyalty for certain and a stronger business as well. My
businesses grew because I put a value on what my employees had