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How to Excel at Distributor Sales

How to Excel at Distributor Sales - In the New Millennium

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Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century

Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century

How to Become an Exceptional Distributor Sales Leader

How to Become an Exceptional Distributor Sales Leader

Insights and Answers for Distributor Sales People

Insights and Answers for Distributor Salespeople

 

Other Articles || Sales Training Resources || Sales Systems

Articles on Sales & Distribution

Articles on sales & distribution by Dave Kahle providing valuable insight
to the distribution industry

The DaCo Corporation specializes in the distribution industry, with over 25 years of experience in helping distributors and the manufacturers who sell through them become more effective in their sales efforts. Read these articles on sales & distribution to gain ideas and insights to improve your sales effectiveness.

SD -3 The Second Essential Competency: Relationship Building - Eight Powerful Rules
More than any other type of sales, distribution sales people must be good at relationship building. You see your customers more often, and for longer periods of time than almost any other type of sales person. This means that you must build relationships that provide you a competitive edge over all of your competition... [Read More]

SD -8 The Five Most Common Mistakes Distributor Sales People Make and How to Correct Them
Over the years that I've been involved in distribution, I've worked with tens of thousands of sales people. Certain negative tendencies -- mistakes that distributor sales people make -- keep surfacing. Here's my top five. See to what degree you (or your sales force) may be guilty of them... [Read More]

SD -18 Chapter Twelve: The Fourth Hat - Skillful Influencer
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, from the Take Your Sales Performance Up a Notch, Copyright 2003, by Dave Kahle.
It's like basketball. At some point, you must put the ball in the basket. But you can't do that without developing the skills of dribbling, rebounding, and passing. Those skills are necessary, but not sufficient. They get you to the point where you have an opportunity to put the ball in the basket. Presenting and closing, the skills we're going to discuss in this chapter, are the equivalent of putting the ball in the basket. And that brings us to the first principle: Deciding to buy is a process, consisting of a series of small decisions. When your customers decide to give you money for what you're offering, that decision doesn't exist in a vacuum. The decision is only the latest in a string of decisions that your customer made along the way..... [Read More]

SD -17 Proactivity and Presentations
A few years ago, I was working with a VP of sales on a new compensation plan for his sales force.  He wanted, among other things, to encourage the sales force to make more presentations of new products and programs to their customers. 

“How many presentations do you think they make each week, on the average,”  I asked....[Read More]

SD-15 Ideas that hinder sales performance: All customer contact must go through me
By Dave Kahle
It's a common mindset. The field sales person wants every communication with the customer to go through him/her. In other words, instead of calling customer service with a problem, the customers are instructed to call the sales person first. Instead of calling technical service for a repair issue, call the sales person. Need a price? Don't call inside sales, call the sales person..... [ Read More ]

SD-14 Ideas that restrict sales performance: I have my own style of selling
By Dave Kahle
Occasionally, at a seminar or training program, I'll overhear one salesperson mention this to another -- " I have my own style of selling. ".... [ Read More ]

SD-13 The two most important decisions a salesperson makes
By Dave Kahle
It's 10 AM Tuesday, and you are about to visit one of your customers. Why are you here? That's the question I have asked ... [ Read More ]

SD-10 The Ten Commandments for the Ethical Salesperson
by Dave Kahle
This may be another definition of integrity -- the courage and conviction to walk away from an unethical short-term gain in return for a long-term gain. In other words, always be willing to give up a sale or some immediate advantage if you must stretch the truth or act unethically to get it. For example, you may have an opportunity to acquire a quick sale because your customer has misunderstood the specifications or features of your product. It's tempting to take the order and not say anything. But that would not be ethical.... [Read more]

SD-9 Communicating Price Increases to Your Customers
by Dave Kahle
Eek! Price increases from several of your suppliers! Your customers won't like that. How do you manage to pass on that price increase without losing business or giving away margin dollars? This is becoming a major issue for distributors. The economic pendulum has inevitably reached its apex and begun to swing back in the other direction. In many industries the pressure to reduce prices is coming to an end, being replaced by upward pressure on prices. If you are like most segments of the economy, there have been more price increases announced in your industry in the last three months than in the last three years combined. Unfortunately, many sales forces are peopled with individuals who have never lived through a time of price increases. They have no frame of reference from which to view it, and no experience on which to draw..... [Read More]

SD-2 Power Strategies for Distribution Salespeople
by Dave Kahle
Selling for a distributor puts you in a unique selling situation. While many basic sales principles still apply to you, there are additional, unique challenges rising out of your position as a distributor salesperson. Find out how to handle these differences in this article.... [Read more]

SM-D-19 Can you expect to survive the recession if your salespeople are mired in the mindsets of the past?
By Dave Kahle
Last week, one of the distributors in my home town closed the doors and went out of business. His was an 80 year old, third generation distributor of building materials. At one time, they were very well respected, employed well over 100 people and about 30 salespeople, and were the leaders in their market. Today their building is empty, their employees no longer employed, their owner staring at the walls of an abandoned office.... [ Read More ]

SM-D-16 Sales Practices That Will Increase Your Margins
by Dave Kahle
There are a number of factors that weave together to make margin shrinkage an issue for everyone. In many areas, competition has increased dramatically. As new competitors vie for your business, they naturally lower prices to buy their way into your accounts. In many industries, products cost less today than they did five years ago. In the face of decreasing prices, it's difficult to maintain gross margins. And, of course, in this era of Wal-Mart, Target and ubiquitous demands for lower prices in every other aspect of our lives, salespeople constantly hear that refrain voiced in the B-2-B sector. What to do? Is margin degradation inevitable? Should we just give in to the pressures and try to lead the pack in cost cutting?..... [Read More]

SM-D-14 Myths of Sales Management: The Entrepreneurial Salesperson by Dave Kahle
I just had a phone conversation with a client who had a familiar story to tell. He had built his business on the model of an entrepreneurial sales force. Give them a territory, pay them straight commission, and tell them they are in business for themselves, free to develop the customers they chose with the products they wanted. And for a couple decades it had worked well. The business grew and expanded. More entrepreneurial sales people were added, and the model was duplicated over and over again. So far so good. But then the growth in sales began to slow down..... [Read More]

SM-D-13 Sales Management Myths: Straight Commission
by Dave Kahle
I had just hung up from a phone conversation with one of my clients. He was commiserating with me on the sorry state of his sales force. He had a group of seasoned, experienced salespeople, each of whom was making a good income on a 100% commission compensation plan. The problem was he couldn't get them to promote new products or seek new customers. They were content to stay within their comfort zones of established customers and familiar products. That contentment is more typical than most of us are willing to admit. Many sales managers and principals continue to strive under the myth that sales people are forever motivated to sell ever larger quantities. And we attribute much of that motivation to the 100% commission compensation plan. Unfortunately, straight commission plans rarely motivate an established sales force to sell more!..... [Read More]

SM-D-12 Seize the Day! The economy offers a special opening for companies to transform their sales force
by Dave Kahle
Bring any group of sales executives together today and the conversation inevitably drifts to the miserable state of business. The mode of the moment seems to be to bemoan the fact that the market is not as robust as it once was, and then to wallow in worry. There is another way to respond to the slower market. That is to recognize this as a once-in a lifetime chance to make significant changes in the way your sales force is organized and managed. These changes can form the infrastructure for constant growth in market share and profitability in the future, as well as greater immediate profitability.... [Read More]

SM-D-11 Don't Fire All the Salespeople Just Yet!
by Dave Kahle
Should you fire all the salespeople? The temptation is there, and probably growing in strength weekly. That's easy to understand. Pressures are pressing on you from a number of directions. First, you may be in the middle of a flat or declining market. Many industries are experiencing the second or third year of flat or decreasing sales. That alone makes you wonder. If your sales aren't growing, what are the salespeople doing, after all? Could you maintain your business with out salespeople? Then there is the constantly drip, like a Chinese water torture, of price pressures from the competition. It's likely that their sales are down as well. Many of them, in a desperate bid to maintain their businesses, will continue to resort to more aggressive discounting. When margins fall, can you afford to pay salespeople?.... [Read More]

SM-D-10 Value-added Selling
by Dave Kahle
"Value-added." That word is used so much it has become a cliché in business circles. There may not be a business in the world that doesn't claim to be a "value-added" seller. The problem is that once a word or phrase becomes a cliché, it often losses it's original meaning. This is true with "value-added." What exactly does that mean?.... [Read More]

SM-D-9 Is it Time for Distributors to Get Serious about Developing Your Salespeople?
by Dave Kahle
"Rub shoulders with a half dozen distributor executives, and it's clear that there is at least one thing they will all agree on. It's this: We should do a better job of training and developing our salespeople. While everyone agrees with the need, very few companies actually do anything about it! Get that same group of half dozen of distributor executives together again a year later and ask them what they did about a problem they all agreed on and my bet is that no one will have done anything differently! Here's the real problem.... [Read more]

SM-D-8 Can Customer Service Representatives Become Proactive?
by Dave Kahle
How can we get inside sales to do some proactive sales activities each day? We want our inside salespeople to use some of their time to shift into the proactive mode to make outbound phone contact to existing and new business.... [Read more]

SM-D-7 Smart Strategies for a Challenging Economy
by Dave Kahle
Yes, we are in the middle of a slowing economy. In many segments, business is down significantly. Distributors are facing the prospect of lower sales and gross profits. The question on everyone’s mind is What should I do about it? Your employees know that business is down. This is a good time for you to implement such deep and significant change... [Read more]

SM-D-6 Is it Time to Concentrate on Sales Productivity?
by Dave Kahle
Sales productivity may be a new concept for many distributor executives. "Sales" is easy to understand, and "productivity" is pretty clear, but when those two words are combined the combination becomes a bit vague.... [Read more]

SM-D-5 Is it Time to Reengineer Your Sales System?
by Dave Kahle
There was a time, just a few years ago, when a smart distributor knew how to organize a sales effort. But the last few years have brought with them radical change. You know the litany: Growing competition, increasing rate of change, new channels of distribution, increasingly sophisticated customer expectations, mergers and consolidations at every level of the business, new strategies and demands by manufacturers, pressures on margins - too much to do and not enough time to do it. The world surrounding your business is dramatically different than it was when you first created your sales approach.... [Read more]

SM-D-2 How to Get 'Em to Do What You Want 'Em to
by Dave Kahle
That's probably the question I'm asked more than any other. Frustrated distributor CEO's and sales managers express that thought over and over, in one way or another. They're talking about their salespeople, of course. They harbor a feeling that some of their salespeople just aren't doing what they want them to do, and they don't know what to do about it.... [Read more]

How can I sell when I'm not the lowest price?
by Dave Kahle
There are a variety of answers -- too many for just one column. But, we can identify one of the most powerful ways to deal with this problem. "Low price" is not the main reason people buy! In every survey of buying motivations I've ever read, low price is never the primary motivation. Yes, it's important. And, when everything else is equal, it will be the deciding factor. But very rarely is everything else equal. And very few people in this world buy only on the basis of low price. How many of you are driving used Yugos? Or wearing a suit you bought at a garage sale? Or watching an 8-inch black & white TV?.... [Read more]

How Well Are Your Salespeople Serving Your Customers?
by Dave Kahle
What does it mean for a salesperson to serve the customer? That's right. Serving, not selling. I know you are concerned with sales. It's easy to determine how well your people are selling to your customers. That's what sales reports are for. But your customers are more concerned with how well they are being served by your salespeople.... [Read more]

Getting Smart with Your Time ~ Why Should Wholesaler-Distributors Focus on Smart Time Management?
by Dave Kahle
About half the success you achieve as a salesperson comes from the skill you develop with interpersonal relations. You need to be good at the face-to-face interactions with your customers and prospects. But half of your success arises out of the way you think about your job when you are by yourself! That's because how you think about your job directly impacts how you use your time. And the smart use of time is one of the things that distinguishes the highly effective distributor salesperson from the mediocre.... [Read more]

Learning About Your Competition
by Dave Kahle
I'm concerned about what my competition may be doing. I know I should be aware of what they're doing, but I'm not sure how I can find that out. This is an issue that's growing in importance. Our industry is heating up and becoming more competitive. All around us things are changing at an ever-increasing rate. That means that it's more important than ever for you to be aware of what your competitors are doing so that you don't get blind sided or seriously outmaneuvered.... [Read more]

More Powerful Strategies for Distribution Salespeople
by Dave Kahle
If you're like a number of other distributors, you're having a good year. The economy is up, business is good, and you're personal sales are probably pretty good. With all that positive news there's a great temptation to coast for a while, to relax and enjoy the status quo. Unfortunately, that's a luxury you can no longer afford. There was a time, just a few years ago, when you could relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.... [Read more]

 
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