September 15, 2020

Right-Sizing Your Sales Force

Do you believe in the 80/20 Rule? If you do, it suggests that 20% of your sales force produces 80% of sales revenue. Right-Sizing is paring down your sales force to find the optimum staffing level that increases cost-efficiencies while maximizing sales results.

I’m referring to sales functions with which many salespeople struggle, generating sales leads and lead-qualifying, and gathering the marketing and sales information that you wish your marketing and sales database contained—information like:

  1. The brand(s) they are buying.
    2. The number of pieces and types of equipment each customer and prospect is operating.
    3. When they plan to add or replace equipment.
    4. Who is servicing their equipment.
    5. From whom they are buying parts

Properly trained sales assistants can send content, farm leads, conduct needs analyses, and schedule and confirm sales appointments. They can follow-up on aftermarket product and services sales. And they can handle customer functions and conduct customer satisfaction surveys.

The idea is to focus your salespeople on what they do best, using their highly-developed people skills to make sales presentations and negotiate and close deals. 

With fewer frontline salespeople, sales territories will need to be realigned. 

This is the last piece in this content series. If you would like more information or have questions, you can reach me at

September 2, 2020

A Simple Formula for Growth

The fundamental objective of the men and women who own and manage manufacturing and distribution businesses is to grow them—to make them bigger and more profitable. The major contributors to business growth are the number of qualified sales leads available to your salespeople, and the dollar amount of your average closed deal. Other contributors are the average length of your sales cycle, and closing ratio, but they are minor contributors compared to expanding the number of qualified sales leads available to your sales reps, and deal size. 

If you held deal size, the length of your sales cycle, and closing ratio constant, and increased the number of qualified sales leads available to your sales force by 5%, your sales and profits would have been 5% greater. The same thing is true of increasing deal size. Hold the length of your sales cycle, closing ratio, and the number of leads constant and increase a dollar amount of your average closed deal by 5%, and sales again expand by 5%. And there is nothing to stop you from doing both at the same time. Would 10% annual growth excite you? And here is the kicker, you can do both of those things within your existing marketing and sales budgets. In fact, you can likely do it for less than you’re spending now. 

One last thought for you to consider about expanding your business. Other than your company name, how similar are your and your competition’s marketing approaches? In your advertising, are you and your competition pitching price or value? And how many of you are using the same lead-generating service? And in your industry, are you competing in an economically mature market (see 

If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, then I have one more question. What is your plan to break out and begin to successfully take business from your competition? Because if your marketing approach doesn’t change, then when it comes to realizing organic growth, you probably shouldn’t expect things to change. 

Next week, I’ll talk about Right-Sizing your sales force. For more content, you can visit If you would like more information, or have questions, you can reach me at

August 18, 2020

Differentiating You from Your Competition

Differentiation is a tactic that allows you to compete in the market place with something other than price. Liberty Mutual Insurance is an outstanding example of differentiation. 

Their differentiation is, “You can save a lot of money with Liberty Mutual. We customize your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need.” Now honestly, have you ever had an auto policy that didn’t allow you to customize your coverage? 

Liberty Mutual is competing on a feature, rather than on price. They took a well-established, standard auto policy feature, branded it with their name, and claimed it for themselves. That’s brilliant product differentiation. 

In making a differentiating claim there are three tests, and Liberty Mutual nailed all three. Is the claim valid? Is it relevant? Is it provable? All Liberty Mutual’s competition can say is, “Me too,” which is the exact opposite of differentiation.

Another purpose of differentiation is to position your business in such a way that it stands out favorably from your competition. You might want to read the landing pages on your and your competition’s websites. Often, competitive landing pages make the same claims. If you find that to be the case, you may want to rethink your landing page.

If you would like to learn more about differentiation, I recommend Hinge’s Differentiating Guide.  Hinge consults with professional service firms, and the guide was written for them, but it is just another example of differentiation. The information is as applicable for manufacturers and distributors. 

Besides differentiation, you also need a compelling value proposition, or positioning statement; one which is designed to tell your prospects and customers why they should buy from you. I found this article especially useful in creating my company’s value proposition:

Next week, I’ll outline a simple formula for growth. If you have questions, I’m at more content, visit

August 11, 2020

The Lead Multiplier

If you increase the number of leads available to your salespeople, sales are going to increase. Today, I’ll outline the best and least expensive way to significantly raise lead volume. 

Improved awareness is the key to increased lead volume. Unfortunately, modern marketing strategies are based on advertising, which means you have no way of gathering strategic marketing information that would enable you to generate more leads. But, when someone with the right skillset and training asks end-users for marketing information, they will usually provide it. That puts greater awareness within reach of any sales organization that wants it.

Here’s the type of information that most end-users are willing share. How much equipment and the type and brand of equipment they operate; when they plan next to add or replace equipment;  how many days and shifts they work their equipment each week; who repairs that equipment, where they get their parts; and how satisfied they are with their equipment and aftermarket vendors. They will also give you their contact information. Basically, end-users will share any information that it makes sense to provide about their equipment usage.

You should be particularly interested in how many days and shifts end-users operate their equipment each week. Equipment is engineered to have a useful operating life expressed in hours, and by knowing weekly hours of usage, you are able to calculate future purchase dates as well as aftermarket sales opportunities.

In the US, the average single-family homeowner stays in the same home for 13 years. That means if a realtor talks to 13 single-family homeowners, on average, one will sell their home within 12 months. The same idea applies to the equipment you sell, except businesses buy equipment more frequently than homeowners sell their homes; x% of your prospects will buy equipment this year, x% next year, etc.

The lead multiplier is greater awareness. What I’ve described is easily cost-justifiable. If you do the math, you’ll see that you can’t lose by generating your own leads.

Next week, find out how to become a Thought Leader. If you have questions, you can contact me at For additional content, visit

July 29, 2020

The Power of Asking

There was a time when salespeople generated their sales leads, they farmed them as required, and they conducted needs assessments, made sales presentations, closed sales, and took care of customer service too. Things aren’t done that way anymore, and it’s the reason you are experiencing so much difficulty growing market share.

You might tell me that you’re gaining market share through mergers and acquisitions, but that’s not growth, that’s arithmetic. You took the assets of one business and added them to the assets of another. While your market share became higher, it was not organic growth.

If you want organic growth, there are only two ways to get it. You take business from your competition (and retain it), and you sell more to your existing customers. That’s how you get organic growth. There are several steps involved, and we will begin with one today.

I begin with this step because if it’s omitted, organic growth you would have achieved will be considerably less. Why? Because without it, (1) your marketing and sales costs will be higher, (2) you will miss out on the actionable marketing and sales information that would have produced increased sales leads, (3) you won’t be able to farm leads, and (4) your profits will be diminished. If you want to take business from your competition, and sell more to your existing customers, step one is generating your own leads, and taking control of deal size (next week’s topic).

And if you don’t have people who will enthusiastically make calls, there are plenty of well-managed lead generating organizations. And here is the good news, you can likely pay for it by tweaking your marketing and sales budget (I’ll outline how you can do that in four more weeks). If you want to further reduce costs and take absolute control of your growth, some businesses will custom design an in-house lead generating system for you.Next week, I’ll show you how to increase the average dollar value of your closed deals by increasing the amount of equipment and aftermarket products and services purchased. If you have questions, email me at

July 20, 2020

Three Minutes

I saw a guy running toward the end of a pier, and when he reached it, he jumped as far out into the lake as he could. His legs were still churning when he hit the water. I watched him surface, swim back to the pier, and slowly climb the ladder. When he got to the top, he just stood there, dripping. I asked him why he’d jumped off the pier. He said that a guy had bet him 1000 to 1 that he couldn’t leap across the lake and with odds like that, he just had to give it a try.

I’ll bet you the cost of my service that in three minutes every Wednesday morning for the next six weeks, I can teach you how to take the most valuable customers away from your competition, get them to buy from you, and render your competition powerless to stop you from doing it. 

Here’s what else you will learn. 

  • How to use the Power of Asking, the most potent sales skill of all 
  • How to increase the size of your average closed deal by taking the most valuable customers away from your competition and sell more to your existing customers
  • How to have more qualified sales appointments than you’ve ever had before
  • How to average 90% customer retention
  • How to become the Thought Leader in your industry 
  • How to right-size your salesforce, sell more, and reduce your sales cost

Next week, I’ll teach you about the Power of Asking. If you have questions, you can contact me at