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Chapter Nineteen
Nine Power Strategies for Distribution Salespeople

If I could step back and look at the key strategies that would summarize the concepts, principles strategies, and tactics I´ve discussed in this book, my list would look like this.


At first, you may think this to be common sense and self-evident, and to some degree it is. However, many distributor reps are guilty of "going through the motions" selling. In other words, you see Customer A on Tuesday morning because that´s your habit. Instead of being driven by the objective you hope to achieve in that meeting -- the results -- you´re driven by habit. You go where it´s most comfortable rather than where it´s most effective.

You can apply this strategy in almost every aspect of your job. If you focus on results, you rank your prospects and customers in terms of their potential and spend the greatest amount of your time with the highest potential accounts.

Create specific call objectives for every call, and annual objectives for every one of your key accounts -- focusing on the results you want to achieve.

View the products and customers you choose to invest your time into in the same light. Which products will bring you the best results? Those are the ones you promote, if you´re focusing on results.

Manage your time and territory precisely, asking yourself daily, if not hourly, "What is the best use of my time right now?"

Put all this together and the words "FOCUS ON RESULTS" become an overarching strategy that affects everything you do.


Get important to your customers, and get important to the manufacturers whose products you represent. In this rapidly-changing world, new sources of competition are constantly surfacing. It seems that pressures on price and margin never stop. In this kind of environment, how can you secure a spot for yourself that provides you a good income and some security?

The secret is to get important. When you´re important to your manufacturers, you´re able to provide them the one thing they need from you. Access to your customers. Think about it. They can warehouse and ship and bill their products almost as well as you can. What they can´t do as effectively as you is get in front of your customers.

It´s always going to cost them more to get to your customers because they have a limited number of products over which to spread their sales cost, while you can spread your costs over a much wider number of products. Thus, you should always be able to access the customer at a lower cost than the manufacturers. And, the smart ones know that. So, your ability to get important to your manufacturers is directly dependent on your ability to provide them access to your key customers.

That means that you´re going to have GET IMPORTANT to your customers. You do that by becoming, in your customer´s mind, an integral, almost indispensable, part of his business. You can´t do that if you restrict your activities to quoting the lowest price and picking up orders. Rather, you must systematically create relationships with the most important people within your key accounts, invest your time in learning about their business and getting to know them better than anyone else, and then providing creative solutions and systems that solve deep and systematic problems. When you do this consistently and effectively, you become, in the eyes of your customer, a valued part of your customer´s business. And that makes you important to them.


It´s easy to do your job by mindlessly going through the motions. You see the customers with whom you are comfortable, quote the stuff they ask you to, grumble about the paperwork, and complain about price competition.

That´s easy. Unfortunately, it´s also a prescription for eventual failure. The world is changing too rapidly today to do your job mindlessly. Your customers are changing, products and vendors are changing and adapting, new competitors and technologies are springing up. If you go through your job mindlessly, you´ll soon be outdated and ineffectual.

Do just the opposite. Commit yourself to the challenge of continuous improvement. Think about everything you do and examine ways to improve and wring more value out of it.

Challenge and question everything you do. Is this the best way to write up a quote? Should you be visiting this account, or would the other one hold more potential? Should you really be spending your time promoting this product, or is another one important? Should you really be lunching with this customer or should you invest your time in another? Is this the best way to file your old quotes, keep track of customer contacts, and file product literature?

Got the idea? Never rest. Be discontented with every aspect of your job to provide the stimulation to improve it. Think a lot.


There is no one thing you can do that is more powerful than asking a good sales question . You know that from reading Chapter 10. But, with the risk of being redundant, let me emphasize again that asking questions is the single best thing you can do.

When you ask good questions it does several things:

  • It builds relationships by conveying the feeling that you are sincerely interested in the customer.
  • It helps you to understand the customer better, and thus equips you to provide effective solutions to his needs and interests.
  • It conveys the perception of your competence.
  • It uncovers opportunities.
  • It clarifies issues.

Once again, asking good questions is the single most effective thing you can do.


Wait! This isn´t as blatantly obvious as it seems.

When I say "sell a lot" I don´t mean to create a lot of invoices and get lots of pats on the back by the boss, although that certainly is a good thing to do. I´m talking about something much more specific than that. I´m talking about the quantity and quality of sales presentations you make. Picture a distributor salesperson who goes through the motions -- visiting his customers, picking up orders, talking about back orders and problems, and occasionally discussing a piece of literature on some product line. Now, contrast that person with another distributor salesperson who always has one or two products to discuss and present to every account, and who doesn´t see anyone without suggesting, demonstrating, or presenting some product, service or program. The difference between the two salespeople is the quantity of sales presentations. Which of the two do you think will be more successful?

That´s a no brainer question. Sell a lot means to concentrate on increasing the quantity of your sales presentations. Here´s a telling little exercise. Keep track, every day for one week, of the number of times you present a product, program or service to your customers. Just the quantity of sales contacts. It may surprise you. Now, next week, see if you can double that number. That also may surprise you because you´ll find how easy it is to increase the quantity of sales contacts with a little planning and preparation.

Do so, and you´ll increase your sales effectiveness.


No, this didn´t get mixed up with the cookbook manuscript. Remember the onion analogy that I´ve used several times throughout the book? It basically says that most salespeople deal with their customers in superficial ways. As long as you´re satisfied to maintain a superficial relationship with your customer, you´re vulnerable to competitive pressures, and you´ll never reach your full potential.

If you want to sell successfully in our turn of the century environment, you need to continually peel back the layers and achieve deeper understanding and relationships with your customers.

That means digging deeper to understand them better, continually working to present deeper programs and services, and using every encounter to uncover deeper layers of truth.

You must use discipline and technique to go deeper with you customers. Deeper knowledge, deeper relationships, and deeper solutions. Your courage in digging deeper and peeling back the layers of the onion will separate you from your competition. But you must be courageous, skillful and dedicated to continually PEEL THE ONION.


People like people who are like themselves. People buy from people they like. People buy, therefore, from people like themselves. Therefore, be like them. Treat each of your customers the way he wants to be treated. The Apostle Paul, writing in the Bible, said "I have become all things to all people in the cause of Christ." We´re not talking about anything so important as spiritual issues here, but the principle still applies. Every one of your customers is comfortable dealing with people in a certain way -- they are more likely to buy from people who they are comfortable with. Study each decision maker, and respond to him or her in the way in which he or she wants to be treated.

Remember the chameleon. It is unique in its ability to change colors to blend into its environment. Learn to do the same things. It´s one of the skills of the best salespeople.


Spend at least 20 percent of your work week planning and preparing for the other 80 percent. Create powerful lifetime, annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals . Prioritize your accounts, your time, your prospects, the products you represent, your territory, and so on. Constantly think about the most effective things to do, and concentrate on doing them in the best way. Never rest in your quest for the better way and the more effective thing to do.


Unfortunately, just a few years ago you could get good at something, and then coast for a while. Not anymore. You´re never good enough. As soon as you gain mastery of an aspect of your job, the goal changes, the environment transforms itself, and you must relearn.

I´m convinced that the single most important success skill in the turn of the century environment will be your ability to learn and transform yourself. It´s not a one-time task, or something you stop doing in school. Rather, it´s a continuous, lifelong challenge. You must continually improve, in every area of your job, or be left in the dust of those who do. It is the ultimate competitive strategy, and the one that transcends all the others.

To implement the ideas in this chapter...

Implement the nine summary strategies for distribution salespeople:

    1. Focus on results.
    2. Get important.
    3. Think a lot.
    4. Master the art of asking questions.
    5. Sell a lot.
    6. Continually peel the onion.
    7. Become a chameleon.
    8. Work smart by prioritizing and strategizing everything.
    9. Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement.

You'll get over 350 pages of tips, strategies, helpful tools and informative 'how-to´s' just like the ones above that you can implement immediately to increase your sales results in Dave Kahle ´s book How to Excel at Distributor Sales. Buy it Now!

  How to Excel at Distributor SalesHow to Excel at Distributor Sales - In the New Millennium

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