Sales Superstar

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Selling points

by Jeff Gardner, Maximum Performance Group

This month’s top performer, Grant Waldroop from Preferred Office Products in Dallas, describes the secrets behind his sales success.

Preferred Office Products has been in business for 31 years and is owned by Gus Kamis, Bruce Kamis and Andrew Atkinson. They sell the typical categories expected with a traditional commercial office products dealer, from office supplies, jan/san and breakroom supplies, IT supplies and furniture.

Grant is relatively new to the office products industry; he is in his third year as an outside salesperson selling office products. When he joined Preferred he came with a solid sales background working for eight years in the copying and imaging industry.

Grant started out with no accounts and had to create his own base of business. In his first year he sold $500,000, his second year $900,000 and now in his third year he is tracking at $1.4 million a year.

I have known Grant for about two years and have always been impressed with his positive attitude about life and especially his infectious smile! He is very professional and very serious about succeeding in sales.

Recently, I was able to sit down and talk with Grant at a sales training seminar that I was delivering in Dallas.

Why did you choose the OP Industry?
I like the fact that everyone is a potential customer. I also like developing long-term relationships with my customers. I see OP sales as something I can do for the rest of my life.

What are some of the factors that contribute to your success?
I am very goal driven. For example my wife and I will set personal goals for ourselves regularly to help keep us motivated. And when a goal is achieved, we reward ourselves. These rewards may be as simple as dinner out at our favourite restaurant or a three-day weekend getaway. These "little" rewards help me to stay focused on my goals and on my job and selling.

I have an outgoing positive personality. I believe it’s important to walk into a customer or a prospect’s office with my head high, shoulders back and with a big smile on my face. People want to be around other people that are happy and positive. I also treat people with kindness; I believe that if you are kind to other people things will come your way.

I work hard. It’s important to stay on top of all your accounts even the smaller ones. If you don’t call on them they won’t be loyal. I connect with all my customers at least monthly. For the larger accounts I may call on them weekly or twice a month. For the other customers it may only be monthly. I also use email and phone calls in addition to my onsite sales calls.

Tell me about your approach to sales planning and organisation.
I set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly sales goals for myself. At the beginning of each month I print out the sales history for every one of my customers. I take time to review the sales history and make decision about where I need to focus my efforts for the month. It helps me to decide which accounts I need to really focus on. I then create my daily and weekly plans that will drive the results of my monthly goal. I also plan time to make cold calls each week. I plan out each day in advance and write it down on paper. I also keep my goals written out and review them regularly.

Walk me through a typical selling day.
I leave my house at around 6.45am. I go to my office and work on emails, paperwork and voice messages. At 9.00am I get out of the office to see clients until 11.30am at which time I go back to the office. At 1.00pm I get back out on the "street" selling until 4.00pm. At that time I go back to the office to finish paper work, return calls, set up appointments and plan for the next day.

What is your approach to acquiring new customers?
It takes a lot of leg work to gain a new customer. First off, I do a lot of "meet and greets" that’s where I stop by the office of a prospect and introduce myself. I will load up my brief case and pick out an area or building and just get out there and make a lot of cold calls to get an introduction. During my meet and greets, I try to get the name and business card of the decision maker. At the end of the day I go back to my office with a stack of business cards and list of names and start calling to set up face-to-face appointments.

I am very persistent and don’t give up easily. I recognise that sometimes it takes multiple calls to get someone to switch suppliers. It’s not uncommon for me to make five or more sales calls on a prospect before they start doing business with me. In fact, some of my best customers were the most difficult ones to convert.

When I am making those multiple prospecting calls I make it a point to provide value on every sales call. I may suggest better ways for them to order office supplies or help them become more productive by demonstrating new products. I always have a purpose to my sales calls.

Generally, during this conversion process I will call on the prospect monthly and spend 20 to 30 minutes per sales call. Sometimes during this process their current supplier will "drop the ball" and it may be as simple as me being in the right place at the right time to pick up the ball and run.

In addition, during the multiple calls I begin to develop trust with the decision maker who sees the consistency and recognises that I am there to help as a consultant and a friend.

What are some of your favourite questions you ask when meeting with a prospect for the first time?
Who is in charge of ordering? How do you purchase office products? Who are you currently purchasing from? What would it take to earn your business? I mostly want to uncover problems they might be experiencing so I can show them how I can help solve the problems.

Price seems to be an issue with most every office products consumer. How do you deal with price objections and negotiations?
Everybody starts out with price as their main concern. I try to show them the benefit of my service, location and flexibility to their needs and then I work on pricing.

What is your favourite closing technique?
I tell the prospect I would love the opportunity to earn your business. And the only way I can earn your business is by asking for a piece of the pie to start out. Then, let me show you I can deliver and in a few months I will ask for more business.

What is your favourite book or audio programme on selling and what is one valuable thing you learned?
One of the first books I read had a big impact on me. The book is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The book taught me to pay attention to the other person to watch their body language. Most importantly it taught me how to listen.

How do you keep yourself motivated and positive?
I smile a lot and try to make every day better. I live for the future and reward myself for reaching my goals. I don’t sweat the little things. And when I get home at night, I recap the day with my wife. I also believe in never giving up! I am in this business for the long term and I don’t mind working hard for the future.

What is your most memorable sale?
I had been working on converting a large client for more than a year. They finally called me to say that they were working on a project the day after Christmas. It was an important project and it needed to get done. She called and asked if I was working the day after Christmas and I answered "Of course!" At the time I was out of town with family celebrating the holiday. Without a second thought I jumped in my car and drove back to Dallas to meet with the client. I helped them with an order and then drove back to be with my family the same day. They now are a great client and would do anything for me.

What suggestions or advice would you give someone new who is just starting out in sales in the OP Industry?
Don’t take the rejection personally. Selling is a numbers game, if you stay positive, work hard and be persistent the rewards will follow. Get to know your customers personally, learn about their hobbies and their family.

And last but not least, listen and learn from other people who are successful, and remember: "Take the butchers word".

I had to ask Grant what he meant by that and he reminded me that it is a quote from the movie Tommy Boy. I recommend the movie to all salespeople. It is a silly look at two salespeople out on the road selling. So if you want the entire quote, you will have to rent the movie since it isn’t appropriate to put it into print in this fine publication.