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Jewish World Review March 27, 2001 / 3 Nissan, 5761

Small Business Advisor by Paul Tulenko

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Consumer Reports

Sales slump? Try a selling seminar -- SUPPOSE you are the owner, marketing director or sales manager of a firm that specializes in outside sales but at the same time may have inside sales as well. The market isn't doing what you want it to do, but deep down you know that your sales force could do a lot more than it's doing.

You've tried all the ideas, tips and suggestions you can find and you've used every gimmick known to improve sales. Still, while there have been spurts in sales, nothing seems to work for very long.

Whether they will own up to it or not, many otherwise stellar salespeople have a deeply entrenched fear of rejection that is most often a prime sales de-motivator, especially when things aren't going as well as they might.

Regular sales calls often are viewed these busy days as intrusions by the customers and a sales person with a company-backed requirement to perform picks up on this, which results in an increased reluctance to make new calls and to step up the pace of existing calls.

Your task is to figure ways to increase sales and to get the sales person and your customer listening on the same side of the ledger. One method could be a selling seminar.

A selling seminar is just what it sounds like - a seminar that you put on featuring a guru with answers and that is designed to increase sales for you and your products. It is not intended to be intrusive but informative. It should give your sales force renewed confidence by removing some of the fear of rejection, and it can dramatically increase your sales by presenting new products or services to existing and potential customers.

To be most effective, you should hold at least four seminars a year in each geographical market to maintain a presence with your customers. Understand, this is a continuing project and not a one-time, fix-everything deal.

Here are some ingredients of a successful selling seminar:

- Begin by setting a date far enough in advance to provide ample time to advise clients and prospective clients of the event.

- Design the invitation to stress four benefits: new and/or innovative products or service offerings; the benefit to their firms through use of these new products or services; the possibility of making new friends or business contacts in their related industries, and the ability to visit with the competition in a safe, open, easy forum.

- Make a deal with one or more of your suppliers to help defray expenses by underwriting a speaker, paying for refreshments or supplying door prizes. Use anything and everything that could complement your offer.

- Make this a friendly and happy event. Make it a requirement that your staff, wearing smiles, circulate, missing no one.

- Hire one of your industry's gurus to put on an actual, useful seminar. It's great to have a well-known speaker, but it's more important to have a speaker with something of value to say to your guests.

A selling seminar is a cost-effective way to open new doors, to invigorate your sales force and to have your customers, suppliers and industry leaders in one place at one time.

All this helps you to develop a new and a renewed presence in your community. You will be viewed as an innovator, a mover and a shaker.

Paul Tulenko is the coordinator of the Small Business Development Center in Albuquerque, N.M. Comment by clicking here.


03/20/01: Take advantage of the economic downturn
03/14/01: Tips on making a presentation
03/07/01: Never too late to start a business?
03/02/01: Choosing a company name
02/20/01: Tax tips for small business owners
02/13/01: Don't get the small-biz blues: You're not alone
02/06/01: How to communicate at the office
01/30/01: Before advertising, do your homework
01/23/01: Before you start selling a service online

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