From training a sales team to using the latest in selling technologies, John Rossi of YSU covers all the bases in Sales 101 to help business owners employ a more evolved selling process to meet today’s business demands.

John Rossi, YSU Marketing Faculty

John Rossi, is a marketing lecturer and the director of The Professional Sales Center in the Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University. He is a subject matter expert in enterprise valuation and business advisory services and serves a wide range of local, regional and national commercial, institutional, and industrial clients. Email questions and comments to sales101@business-journal.com.

Winding Down the Year and Wrapping Up Gifts

I can’t believe it. The end of the year is already approaching. It feels like time is moving much faster than when I was a younger man.

Older people, such as myself, tend to perceive time as moving more quickly. The experts say the reason we feel time is flying by is that we have collected and assembled so many memories that when we look back, our mind treats all those events and recollections like a Rolodex and scrolls through them all to get back to the present moment.

I wonder if modern technology will advance enough to help us apply another metaphor, given that most salespeople know the actual Rolodex is somewhat antiquated.

I do hope that the technologists invent a plug-in to allow me to download my “gray matter” hard drive to help me make room for what’s next.

(more…)

Winding Down the Year and Wrapping Up Gifts

I can’t believe it. The end of the year is already approaching. It feels like time is moving much faster than when I was a younger man.

Older people, such as myself, tend to perceive time as moving more quickly. The experts say the reason we feel time is flying by is that we have collected and assembled so many memories that when we look back, our mind treats all those events and recollections like a Rolodex and scrolls through them all to get back to the present moment.

I wonder if modern technology will advance enough to help us apply another metaphor, given that most salespeople know the actual Rolodex is somewhat antiquated.

I do hope that the technologists invent a plug-in to allow me to download my “gray matter” hard drive to help me make room for what’s next.

(more…)


How to Organize Promotional Campaigns for Success

Voters across the nation will soon elect leaders to federal, state and local offices. Most often we hear candidates’ efforts and issues referred to as campaigns. The term is one of those unique words in the English language that can be used as a noun and a verb.

A campaign can be a series of military operations to achieve a particular objective, often confined to a specific territory, or involving a specified type of warfare. As both a noun and verb, in business the term campaign is more often described as an organized course of action to achieve a particular goal.

In marketing and sales we use the term campaign to describe the organized activities designed and executed to achieve a sales goal or marketing objective. Like many officers exercising military commands, we understand all too well that we can win several battles and still lose the war.

(more…)


What’s Your Fourth-Quarter Game Plan?

It’s not a two-minute clock, but it may begin to feel that way. We’re approaching the fourth quarter of the year.

I know what you’re thinking: It feels like we just opened Christmas presents and sang Auld Lang Syne to usher in 2018. Actually, we are heading into one of the most important and most profitable seasons of the calendar for many businesses.

In the trade, it’s often referred to as OND, which stands for October, November, December.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales for 2017 increased about 5% from 2016 and the sales period resulted in one of the strongest gains since the Great Recession.

(more…)


Value and Customer Relationships Matter Most

When CNN, The Wall Street Journal and The Business Journal report on the U.S. economy, they often introduce the idea that we are now in a service economy.

So, I got to thinking about that claim and decided to do some research to see if that truly is the case. Well, they are actually very much correct – no fake news here.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, service-type industries employ about 70% of the U.S. workforce. Wholesale and retail trades make up about 13% of the total of the 153 million people employed in January. Information services is rapidly approaching 2%. Financial activities and real estate is just about 7%. Professional and business services is just over 12%. Education and health services is about 22%. Leisure and hospitality is 9% and other services are just under 5%.

(more…)


‘Four Ps’ Apply to Product and Service Businesses

In marketing, we often speak endearingly of the “Four Ps” – Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

But over the decades, strategy has evolved significantly from an industrial manufacturing and production mentality – think Henry Ford’s initial attitude toward building and selling the Model T: You can have any color as long as it’s black.

Companies like Harley-Davidson were initially and surprisingly successful in the manufacturing environment when they took a different approach in adapting to their markets, in the United States and internationally, and tailored their products to customer preferences. This approach resulted in many unique styles and options, particularly among a specific age group and psychographic profile of the motorcycle market.

(more…)


How to Determine Buying Power Per Account

What gets measured gets done. This maxim is attributed to Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Edwards Deming, Lord Kelvin, among others. What matters is whether you believe in it.

In professional selling, whether it is business-to-business (B2B), business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) or business-to-government (B2G), the perennial question is: Are top salesmen born or made? Must successful salesmen be born with the requisite sales instincts? Or can someone (maybe you) learn to become successful in sales without them?

The best place to start is whether you view selling as an art or science. The more appropriate view is that it is both. This perspective can and does exist, particularly in the most successful organizations.

(more…)


Interns Can Do More than Make Copies, Get Coffee

Spring is upon us and summer is not far behind, so many businesses are employing college interns to fill positions. An internship should be carefully monitored work or service where a college student has learning goals and can actively integrate what he is learning through his experience.

If your firm is considering creating or filling an internship this summer, this article should provide help in developing a program. Some important features to consider: (more…)


Firms Must Train Sales Professionals to Succeed

The character of a sales force and its role in executing a firm’s marketing strategy are related to the skills, aptitudes and performance of its salesmen.

Building a competent and knowledgeable sales force and providing training about their industry, markets and the products and services they offer is critical to the long-term success of any business enterprise.

Truly professional salesmen often have a personal need to succeed and want to achieve results for themselves and for their firm. Sales professionals naturally love to compete.

(more…)


Mission Possible: Listening to Customers Is Critical to Success.

When you made your most recent sales call, who did the most talking? You? Or the customer?

Research shows that in the most successful sales calls, it’s the buyer who does most of the talking. So how do you get the buyer to talk? By asking questions, of course. But not just any questions.

It has been customary in sales training courses and seminars to begin with two types of questions, open-ended and closed-ended. Closed-ended questions normally can be answered in a word or two. Often it’s either “Yes” or “No.” However, you can easily see that this type of question and its subsequent responses provide limited information and minimal insight into the buyer’s needs, problem or situation.

(more…)


Sales 101: Proactive Sales Management is a Game Changer

Once again the Youngstown Business Journal has done a great job gathering and recounting stories of our community’s many successful and growing companies for this year’s Growth Report. Even in this climate of rapid change and economic uncertainty you’ll find that upon reading the many profiles the outlook for most organizations remains positive and upbeat.

In our own personal lives, change and uncertainty are becoming a significant part of what we think about regularly and what we respond to daily. Businesses are no different. However, in business and commerce some things remain constant — salesmanship is one of those constants and becoming more important than ever in light of the change and uncertainty. Recall the old adage, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” (more…)


Sales 101: How Technology Is Revolutionizing Sales

Did you ever want to smash your computer or toss your mobile device across the room? Me too. Many times.

One of my all-time favorite office cartoons is “Duck Smashing a Computer.” It exemplified the human condition, regardless of position or industry, of being continually frustrated with and by technology.

I have yet to see a similar cartoon that accurately represents the shockingly short tolerance we have for our device’s seemingly slow response.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago we waited minutes for our modems to respond. Now it is only seconds  – even less  – and we still act just as frustrated as “the Duck.”

(more…)


Sales 101: The Art of Selling

When was the last time you saw a matchbook? It’s been a while, right? Smokers tend to flick their Bics and smoking is somewhat taboo these days.

The matchbook was invented in 1889 by Joshua Pusey, a cigar-smoking patent lawyer in Philadelphia. The idea didn’t catch on until 1892 when a salesman, Henry C. Traute, made the matchbook usable and safe by putting the striking surface on the outside.

It was Traute who introduced the idea of the matchbook as an advertising medium and sold it to advertisers, manufacturers and retailers to use as a promotional giveaway. In 1897, a New York City opera company put its logo on matchbooks and distributed them widely to advertise its opening performance. After that, as they say, the rest is history. Demand for matchbooks grew exponentially.

(more…)