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When I speak to salespeople, I often ask them how ready they are to make a sale right now. I almost always get an answer to the effect of, “I was born ready!” Then I will ask them for a clean business card (not a wrinkled one that has been in their wallet for too long). Too often I am told that they are: in the car, on my desk, in my purse or that they ran out. I will then ask them to write something down. You will be amazed how many will ask to borrow my pen! I’ll ask, “You weren’t expecting to write today?” They may have been born ready, but they sure haven’t stayed that way!

Take a good, objective look at your firm’s sales staff. Now, take that same objective look at the majority of customers that walk thru your doorway. Do they look very similar? They should.

Many flooring dealers that I visit with state that “advertising just doesn’t seem to work very well for us. We run ads occasionally, but usually don’t see immediate results.” In most cases, the problem that I see is not the message itself, but rather the messenger. They forget that the products that we are offering have a very low percentage (3-5%) of the population actively in the market at any given time.

I admit it. I am a serial list maker. At the beginning of each day, I typically find myself making a “to-do-list” of what I both want and need to get accomplished that day. There is nothing unusual about this. My guess is that many of you do the same.

I was recently asked by a young sales professional for some advice regarding her handling the move into management at one of her company’s satellite stores. My advice to her was to remember that her first day on the job would be her most important day on the job.

Remember that first impressions count. Whether you intend to or not, you are going to build your brand as a leader early on. Getting off on the right foot is critical. The biggest mistake that you can make initially is to adopt the attitude that “there’s a new sheriff in town and things are going to change!”

We have again reached the time of year when distractions become more commonplace. If one is not disciplined, it’s easy to spend all day at the workplace, yet accomplish very little. Even though December is not traditionally a booming month for flooring sales, important tasks still remain to be accomplished. In my experience, one of the most important year end tasks is taking the opportunity to sincerely connect with your best customers.

Close your eyes, relax, breathe deep – and spend some money. Retailers have long known that less-stressed shoppers are likely to browse longer, but there’s also evidence that they’ll also be more receptive to higher prices. A recent study in the “Journal of Marketing Research” found that relaxed shoppers were willing to pay up to 15% more for goods than less relaxed ones.

We’ve all heard the axiom that “it’s not always what you say… rather it’s how you say it”. I believe this to be absolutely true. The way that you deliver your message has a direct impact on the perceived content of the message.

Just today I hung up the phone and commented to an acquaintance that “she sure sounded like she knew what she was talking about!”  Why would I have this impression? It was likely because this companies’ receptionist spoke with energy and in a very positive tone. Every syllable she uttered seemed to say “I believe”.

A successful team is made up of many parts. There are role players, “glue” guys and stars. It’s sometimes easy to recognize the stars and forget the other players. Each individual that works for you should be providing an important and necessary function to the success of your team.

Frequent readers know that I am constantly stating that we learn our best marketing lessons when we look outside our own industry. I was reminded of this again this week when reading of the passing of Allen Bernstein, former CEO of Morton’s Steakhouse. He was the chief architect of their expansion from one Chicago location to 77 locations worldwide with sales of nearly $300 million last year.