The One Sales Secret I Hate to Reveal

Dec. 28, 2000

About the author: Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068;

As someone who makes a living teaching people to sell, there is one sales secret I hate to reveal. The fact is, you don’t have to be a great salesperson to be successful selling water equipment. If the product is good and the demonstration is powerful, three things can make even unlikely people wildly successful.

What are the three foundations? You have to believe in the product until you feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t use it. You have to learn a good demonstration and do it in full in every home. Third, you have to do the demo in two or more homes every day. That’s it.Let me prove this by using two real-life examples of people I have come to know.

One day, I received a call from a man who had just lost his drivers license. He couldn’t make a living without his license and had to earn money in the six months his license was suspended. He had some selling experience but not in the water industry. He lived in a large suburban subdivision and decided to walk door-to-door selling something. He recently had purchased a reverse osmosis (RO) system and was excited about the product. So, he spent eight hours every day walking door-to-door in the subdivision selling the ROs he believed in. He said that in those eight hours he knocked on about 50 doors. He got into five homes and sold on the average three systems per day. He now owns a successful water equipment dealership. What made him successful? It was his belief in the product and his determination to knock on doors.

Our next true example is from another couple who are not in the water industry. They both have jobs and neither are salespeople. They decided that three nights a week, each of them would call on two couples and attempt to rent out an RO. Together, they call on 12 couples per week. They have worked out an ingenious system. They install the RO the same night they rent it and at that time, collect a deposit and six-month rental in advance. They stop by every six months to change the filters and collect another six months’ rent.

No bookkeeping, no billing and no receivables. The important thing is that they stick to their commitment of calling on six couples per week. They believe in the product. The result? In the last two years, they have done more than 1,200 demonstrations. They have about 200 rental ROs out. You do the math. They earn about $4,000 per month from their rentals, and they say that when they reach 1,000 ROs on rental, they will retire and be earning about $20,000 per month.

What do these true but unusual stories have in common? The people involved are not great salespeople. They are not well-trained. They don’t use fancy closes or hard sales tactics. They don’t have the lowest price or technologically superior products backed up by a television ad campaign. They don’t have a phone room supplying leads, a service department or any of the other things we all claim are preventing us from selling. They do have the three fundamental pillars. They believe in the product and are really excited about it, but they do a good demonstration for every customer. Most importantly, they committed to doing a set number of demonstrations per day and have stuck to it over a long period of time. We all could sell a lot more if we concentrated on the three fundamentals instead of the things that don’t make us any money.

We have to ask ourselves how so many of us who sell full-time in the industry don’t get around to doing as many demonstrations as the people in these success stories. This failure is caused by two factors. The first is a failure to keep an eye on the fact that only demonstrations earn us any money. If we aren’t demonstrating, we aren’t earning. Everything else should be done when we have reached our demonstration goal. Do you even have a demonstration goal? Many of us don’t and we will never reach our true potential without one. The success stories we looked at above had a simple-minded compulsion to meet the quota, and it has lead to success.

I suggest that each of us write a contract with ourselves or our com-pany and state how many times we will demonstrate each day and what we will do if we miss the goal. Work longer hours or weekends?

I said earlier there were two factors why so many do not make it in the industry. The second factor is many of us fear knocking on doors more than we fear failure or our managers. Hey, it’s scary to knock on doors. I’ve done it for 30 years, and I still get covered in sweat and a knot in my stomach every time. What makes successful salespeople keep knocking when they want to give up? They fear failure or the wrath of their manager more than they fear the homeowner’s rejection.

If you work for yourself, really sell yourself on how important it is to succeed. If you are a manager, make sure you check every day on how many in-home demonstrations each salesperson completes. Be strict in forcing your teamto be successful and meet its demo goals.

Do you have a plan and a commitment to do demos? I hope you will make one as soon as you finish this article. Nothing else you do will earn you money. Concentrate on demos, not sales. The sales will take care of themselves. The next time you wonder why you aren’t selling enough, don’t concentrate on phone rooms, the economy, brochures or business cards. Count the demos and the answer will reveal itself.

If you have questions or a topic you would like to see addressed, please e-mail [email protected]; fax 847-390-0408.

About the Author

Carl Davidson

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