Be a Partner, Not a Salesperson
Trudeau firmly believes it is the responsibility of anyone in sales to add value to the customer and to demonstrate to the customer how the company and its sales reps will work harder than the retailer to get customers in the store to buy products. Rather than pushing products on retailers, his strategy is to get them excited to sell products and to work together.
“The pitch comes from the discourse and from workshopping the situation with the customer and making them a partner rather than an adversary,” says Trudeau. “That’s how you build a rapport—by asking the right questions, listening to what they have to say, listening to their business problems and then finding ways to help solve them, whether or not those involve your company.”
Customers usually reveal what’s important to them when they’re ranting and raving. Take mental notes, remember what seems important to them, and a have some sort of goal or plan in mind for addressing it. Another key element of sales is negotiation, and you must be reasonable as a salesperson if you want to gain a loyal business partner. An effective negotiation will benefit both you and the customer, while any sort of compromise is likely to leave both of you dissatisfied to some degree.
Give Them a Reason to Sell
Finally, once you have a good rep who is armed with the information and resources necessary to sell the product, who acts professionally and who shows up to work each day ready to bring in new business, make sure you keep those salespeople motivated. Incentivization is a big part of the sales process, but make sure those incentives are enough to keep your team striving for excellence. According to Trudeau, offering aggressive bonuses to sales reps that show up, work hard, meet their goals and demonstrate their investment in the company pays off.
Besides bonuses, providing the right amount of support will ensure you retain your sales reps. While Kristoff Cigars has a lean workforce, it’s equipped with a great operations team that makes sure the sales reps are kept organized and have what they need to be successful. Ensuring sales reps are fairly compensated, have a good product to sell and are backed with a great support team will make their jobs easier—and sales are likely to follow.
This story first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.
–Story by Antoine Reid, an editor and digital content director for Tobacco Business Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @editor.reid. Photos by Dale Heise.