December 2019
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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Secrets of a Sales Rep #6

 

Secrets of a Sales Rep #6

The following article was written by Mike Wicks; He is currently a writer and author, but at the beginning of his career he was a professional salesman. He has developed dozens of sales and marketing courses and has provided hundreds of hours of sales and marketing training over the course of his career. He is also an advisor to the Innovation Center of Entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria. "Salespeople Come in All Shapes and Sizes" is the sixth in a series of articles in which he shares with his readers his secrets to sales success. The fifth "Secrets" article was published in this publication in July 2019.

In my early days of selling I had three mentors – actually they were the company's three London (England) reps and I was required to spend time with each of them during my period as a trainee rep. Their job was to teach me how to sell.

Bear in mind this was in the very early 1970s and believe it or not, in the book publishing industry there were zero female salespeople. Hard to believe now, but that was the case. On the other hand, every editor was a woman and most marketing personnel were also female. I was never sure if it was thought selling was too tough for women, or whether it was simply a boy's club. Several years later women started to appear on sales teams and were immediately highly successful.

I have to say I did learn a lot about selling and the publishing industry from this trio, including John Abel who I mentioned in one of my earlier articles in this series. They taught me lots of technique; how to handle objections, how make a sales presentation interesting, how to get people on side and a whole lot more. But the biggest thing I learned from them they didn't teach me directly, was something I observed.

These three guys were as different as they could be. Let me explain.

John was an older guy, very experienced, rough around the edges and had a hail-fellow-well-met attitude (excuse my old English idiom; it means he was hearty, friendly and enthusiastic). He was the sort of guy that slapped people on the back, told off-colour jokes and today would be seen as inappropriate in the way he spoke to women. If he was still alive and selling today, he would not do well, or indeed would probably never be hired. But in those days, a certain type of customer loved him. His territory consisted of railway bookstalls, wholesalers and other customers who were like him, down-to-earth.

Peter was the opposite; he was a younger guy, good-looking, wore expensive designer suits, shirts and ties and people loved him – especially women. Remember, this is the early 70s. Peter's customers were high-end bookstores such as Hatchards, and the book department in Harrods. He had relatively few accounts to manage, but they brought in a large amount of revenue. His job was to schmooze as much as sell. His job was to play a part – a debonair, playboy, upmarket publisher's rep who mixed with celebrities. He played it well!

Finally, there was Stuart – he was a short, thin Scotsman in his forties who chain-smoked and was much loved by everyone he met. He was genuine, fun, full of humour and charming in a way only a truly authentic person can be. I loved the days I spent with him and learned a great deal about being true to oneself. His clients were everyone that didn't fit with John and Peter.

So, what did I learn that they didn't directly teach me? I understood at the very beginning of my sales career that salespeople are not made in a cookie-cutter. That it's okay to be different, unique, individual as long as you are passionate and believe in yourself and what you are selling.

Instead of becoming like one of these great men, I became all of them. When I became a fully-fledged salesman, I took on a different persona with each call. Sometimes I was John, sometimes Peter, and more often Stuart, but at all times I displayed integrity. I know that at least two of my old mentors have long passed, but if the other one is out there I'd like to think he's still mixing with celebrities like the old days.

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Secrets of a Sales Rep #6

 

Canadian Small Business by the Numbers

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada publishes key small business statistics annually. This information provides a useful insight into the Canadian economy for small business owners and entrepreneurs and those who provide services to them.

This article discusses some of the key findings which we consider will be of interest to readers. It should be noted that government's definition of small business (a business with 1 to 99 employees) may be significantly different to that of the average business owner. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, a small business is defined as having fewer than 100 paid employees, with medium-sized businesses having 100-499 employees. Larger businesses are defined as having 500 or more workers.

At the end of 2015 there were 1.17 million businesses employing people in Canada of which 1.14 million were small businesses. That's a staggering 97.9% - without question small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. In terms of employment, small businesses employ 8.2 million individuals which is 70.5% of the total private labour force. Of these businesses 78.5% were in the service-producing sector and 21.5% in the goods-producing sector.

Of course, to many of us a firm with even 50 employees is large, so what about micro-enterprises? Those who only employee one to four people? Impressively, these account for 53.8% of all private employers – the largest small to medium enterprise (SME) group.

Now, it gets really interesting. When we extend the range to include five to nineteen employees, those businesses account for 86.4% of all employer businesses.

Geographically, more than half of all small employer businesses are in Ontario and Quebec (642,250). British Columbia leads Western Canada with 179,517 small businesses (December 2017) and Nova Scotia leads the Atlantic provinces with 28,874. However, relative to population (i.e. number of businesses per 1,000 of population) Alberta and PEI have the greatest number.

In terms of employment growth, the report states, "Over the last five years, private sector employment has increased in all provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The highest contribution to net employment change among SMEs was observed in Saskatchewan, where 98.0% of net employment change was attributable to SMEs, followed by British Columbia at 91.4%. In Ontario, where net employment change was highest (317,600), 84.3% of this change was attributable to SMEs."

What is most interesting and worth noting is that from 2013−2017, all net employment change was attributable to businesses in the service-producing sector; employment in the goods-producing sector did not increase.

The report goes on to find that, in terms of survival, businesses in the goods-producing and service-producing sectors showed similar survival rates over the course of the first two years after their creation. However, after the third-year survival rates in the goods-producing sector were better. At the five years mark 66.8% of businesses in the goods-producing sector were still operating, compared with 63.3% of businesses in the service-producing sector. At 10 years the rates were 47.8% and 42.9%.

Of particular interest is the fact that businesses which started with a large number of employees had a higher survival rate than businesses that began with a smaller number of employees. Go to the report for a full breakdown.

Over three-quarters of start-ups (2-years or younger) used personal financing to get their business up and running. This was usually due to a lack of credit history or collateral. The bank of mom and dad still reigns supreme.

Nationally, businesses with less than 100 employees contributed almost 40% to Canada's gross domestic product.

Here are a few final interesting facts about small business in Canada. Over half of all companies in Canada are located in Ontario and Quebec and over one-third in the western provinces.

In terms of self-employed people, approximately one-third are women and a little over 14% of all small businesses in Canada are wholly owned by women.

As a small business or micro-enterprise owner, make no mistake you play a vital part in the Canadian economy.

To read the full ISEDC report visit: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site...

For French: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site...

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Secrets of a Sales Rep #6

 

Coach's Corner - 2020 – What is Your Most Important Resolution?

As we approach the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on the past 12-months and look forward to the coming year. By looking at and analyzing the past year we provide the foundations for a bridge to 2020; it helps us create a clear vision for the year ahead.

Good questions to guide our thinking and reflection about our past year include:

  • What can we celebrate from the past year?
  • What were we able to accomplish?
  • What did we learn?
  • What would we change?

Reflection allows us to look at our successes, our failures, the things we did well and those where we might have done better. To reflect on how we may have done things differently, what we may have learned from our mistakes.

"If you are a human being you probably use the beginning of every year to reflect on the past year, make decision and set resolutions for the New Year. It is a good thing to make resolutions, but it takes a good deal of discipline and commitment to get results that would be different and better than what you got last year." Lionnel Yamentou Ndzogoue, Professional Speaker/Author

Once we have taken some time to look back and gained a good sense of what 2019 looked like for us, we can now start to envision how we would like to see 2020 unfold. We can start asking ourselves questions that will guide us in making a plan.

Asking ourselves questions such as those below will help:

  • What do we want to accomplish in 2020?
  • What steps do we need to take to be successful in achieving our goal(s)?
  • How do we measure our success?
  • Who might assist us in reaching our goal?

It is important in setting out resolutions or goals to be clear about what we want to attain and what that looks like. To have an end in mind and a plan in place is crucial to successfully realizing our goals.

"The meaning of resolution is "a firm decision to do or not to do something." The key words are "firm decision". If you make a firm decision about something then you must also take action and set a deadline, in other words, set a goal!" Catherine Pulsifer, Author

What is your most important resolution for 2020?

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching

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