The Cornerstones of Running a Successful Business: Part Two

Loyd-IMO-330There are many things you have to worry about when running a business. Taxes, insurance, costs of goods, overheads, all of these things affect your profitability. While you can streamline and closely manage all of these expenses to minimize their impact, you still have to sell something to make money. Selling is the most important part of being in business and having people that understand the fundamentals of selling is paramount to any business’ success.

As a sales person, you do not have to be the smoothest talking person in the world to be successful; to be successful, you need to know when and with whom to do business. In my 40-plus years in business I have learned many things in this regard and share a process with our salespeople all of the time. It’s not my ORDERS like I’m a drill sergeant, but an acronym for an easy process that can help any salesperson be successful.

The ORDERS process is tied to a secondary process, which doesn’t have a name but that are like driving rules, which everyone understands, although they may not always obey them. When you come to a stoplight and it’s red, you stop; when it’s yellow, you proceed with caution; and when it’s green, you go. The same principle applies to each stage of the ORDERS process.

O is for opportunity identification and quantification.
R is for exact resources required.
D is for the ultimate decision maker.
E is for the exact solution to the exact need.
R is for relationship building and reoccurring sales.
S is for support systems.

O — Does opportunity exist? There is no point in meeting with a buyer or customer about a product if they are not bringing on new vendors, if they do not have any jobs coming up in the near future, or if for any other reason they are not looking for your product or service. Using the company expense account is nice to get a free lunch but it just wastes your time and the customer’s if there is no opportunity.

R — Do you and your company have the resources available to devote to the opportunity? If you have limited inventory or long turnaround times on shipments, but the customer expects shipments every two weeks, in the end something is going to suffer. You have to be able to meet the customer’s expectations with the resources you have available.

D — Are you talking with the ultimate decision maker? While there are many people that might influence the decision maker and it is good to have relationships with them so they are familiar with your products, the decision maker is going to be the one that eventually pulls the trigger. If you aren’t talking to or can’t get to the ultimate decision maker, the opportunity is going to take up more of your time and your boss’s money than you or they want to devote to it.

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E — Do you have the exact solution to your customers’ exact needs? If the customer is specifically looking for a product that has X but your product has Y, you’re selling boomerangs that no matter how hard you pitch them they will keep coming back. In the end the customer is going to be disappointed and your relationship will end.

R — Is the opportunity going to include reoccurring sales and relationship building? Is this the opportunity going to be a one-time, suspiciously large order that is a transshipper or credit risk that will destroy your name and company or is there potential for recurring sales? Can you build a relationship with this customer that will continue over time? A loaded customer is not a loyal customer; a loaded customer is a transshipper or credit risk. Be wary of how much time you devote to a one-time sale versus the profit earned and the lost time talking to other customers. Where is your time best spent?

S — Do you and your company have the right support systems in place to meet the customer’s needs? Do you have a second shift of employees that can work to meet a timeline? Can you meet requirements for multiple shipments or do you have the necessary certifications to do the job? Ensuring your systems are in tune with the customer will ensure a successful relationship. Also does the customer have the systems in place to make the opportunity a success?

I always tell our salespeople to follow these steps in this order, and at each step evaluate whether the “light” is red, yellow or green. If it is green, move on to the next step; if it is yellow, use caution and get approval to move forward and critically evaluate the next step; and if it is red, stop and move on to the next opportunity without wasting any more of your time or your boss’s money.

It is so simple and easy to follow, and can help any person become a great salesperson. At the same time this process helps make their company or business more efficient while saving time and making more money. Money can’t buy you happiness but money can get you comfort. Follow these steps in sequential order and you will be guaranteed to be happier.