Sales is one of the toughest jobs out there, and very few rise to the top. We asked four high-performing sellers to reveal the secrets of their success.
Five years ago in October, Jules Price, a musical theater actress and singer who still travels the world in the New York City Ballet’s performances of Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story, plunged personality first into network marketing. Her vehicle: SendOutCards, a multilevel, web-based company that allows clients to send greeting cards and gifts through the mail. Within six months of cold-calling potential customers and distributors, and building a go-getting team underneath her, Price was on fire. “My husband said to me, even if you don’t make any more money from this, what you’ve already done in six months will pay our mortgage forever,” says Price, 39, who is now an executive, corporate trainer, traveling speaker and author of Secrets from the SOC Drawer. “I soon realized my monthly expenses were automatically going to be covered by residuals, just from the work I put in during the first half-year. That was amazing.”
How she ranks No. 13 income earner out of 200,000 representatives worldwide; network of about 3,000 representatives in her team from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
Skill set “My background is as a professional singer, so that positioned me perfectly for this career. You don’t go to a singing audition in New York, get turned down and move back to where you came from and say, ‘Oh, well, I tried.’ In theater, I was always happy being in an ensemble and not just being the lead. I’m not a diva. I like being part of a team. That is extremely important in this business.”
The launch “When I started, I got into massive action. This isn’t a business where you can show someone your product every seven months and expect to gain momentum. I started showing people from my past and people I was meeting about the product, and I hit the ground running. Now, on a typical day, I’m speaking at the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, or checking in with customers and distributors, and I go to the company’s three big seminars every year and train people.”
How to stay energized “In traditional sales, you don’t have the same kind of leverage you do in network marketing, and that is what keeps me motivated. Every day, I get paid on 3,000 people sending cards and gifts. We also have residuals at the end of the month on all the cards and gifts people have sent. Bonuses are when people sign up as distributors, and those are released daily. You could be sitting at the movies and making money. When I sign someone up, I make $320, and when someone signs someone else up, it’s $220. I make 30 percent off what my customers are sending and 17 percent off what distributors are sending. It’s only going to grow.”
At 35, Bradenton native Ryan Hoffman is a commercial property whiz at Wagner Realty and has been negotiating multimillion-dollar deals at the company since 2003. In 2011, his top transaction came in at $3,825,000; so far this year, it’s $4.3 million. “I’ve always jumped when the phone rang, and I don’t ever like letting a deal pass me by,” says Hoffman, who regularly networks at downtown festivals.
Sales volume $15 million in 2011; $9,143,000 in 2012, as of July 12.
Success secrets “Know the good locations and be quick. Keep the deals moving. The more time people have to take in a transaction, the more things can happen in the meantime that are positive or negative. You also have to be willing to chase the deals, even if it means working on a Saturday night, or on evenings or holidays when buyers want to buy and sellers want to sell. Follow up as often as possible with past clients; they’ll remember that more than any other variable.”
Biggest challenge in this market “Financing. You have to learn how to get creative with options. Right now, it’s challenging for anything investor-related to get approved. For example, if you’re a doctor and you buy your office but you also want to buy the one next door, you often can’t get the one next door. In the last five years, it’s been a big issue. You have to find money elsewhere via owner or private financing. I had to become an expert at getting creative.”
Never give up “I find properties for sale that don’t have a sign on them. Remember, a property doesn’t have to be on the MLS to be available. If an investor wants a restaurant on the South Trail, for example, but everything they look at is too big or small, I’ll find something in that area that meets their needs. You never know until you ask.”
Three years ago, Cox Chevrolet’s Finian Mayotte reversed his sales techniques in a down economy and took the pressure to buy off the customer. The 53-year-old Bradenton resident has been selling vehicles with Cox since 1997, and in April, by applying that new advice, he sold 23 units—his best month yet. “I’ve learned how to adapt,” Mayotte says. “And my numbers have zoomed.”
Sales volume 115 cars and trucks through July 2012, averaging about $30,000 apiece (vehicles at Cox range from $13,000 to $130,000).
Fastest way to close a deal “People today want to be helped, they want their information, and they want to go. Have your business card ready and know your product.”
How sales has changed “Conventional thinking has been that salespeople need to immediately qualify a customer by asking them personal questions about what they can afford, and then try to sell them on one car. But that’s not the way to do it today. Now the customer wants to know everything they can about all different types of cars, and they want options. Tell the customer, ‘I’m going to give you as much time as you want to think about it, whether it’s today, tomorrow, next week or next month.’ It takes all the pressure off the customer. I’m amazed at how many times after I’ve given a customer all the information, they’re signing up for one of the choices I gave them a half-hour later. Since I’ve taken that approach my numbers have increased 15 percent to 20 percent every year for three years.”
Make it fun “Even if you’re going for a fast sale, don’t seem anxious about it. The more relaxed I become in the sales process, the more the customer wants to buy from me. When it’s more fun for me, it’s more fun for the customer.”
Longboat Key Club & Resort
Hotel sales rarely sleep, according to Rhonda Holliday, who has been the director of resort sales at the Longboat Key Club & Resort since 2004. To soar in a tireless 24/7 industry, which includes booking various group sales (conferences, meetings and destination wedding parties that require 10 or more filled rooms nightly), Holliday is a time management master. “As a director, I’m responsible for selling and for a quota,” she says, “so I have to carve out enough time each day to focus on working my accounts and being creative enough to secure the business.” Holliday doesn’t subscribe to the traditional “mingle at a chamber meeting or convention” mentality: “After 20 years of networking, I don’t think it’s the place, but the person, that succeeds.”
Sales volume Personal group goal for 2012 is $2 million annually, which includes rooms and food and beverage sales. Group sales comprise 30 percent of the resort’s mix of business, and leisure accounts for 70 percent.
Multitasking tip “Be diligent and do the appropriate tasks to secure and serve your customers. In our industry, we need time for targeted marketing and for answering the multitude of emails we receive daily—to serve a group that has already contracted, or to promptly respond to that next great lead. In hotel sales you have to be constantly reaching out via print advertising, direct mail and e-blasts, and you have to attend trade shows, plan personal sales trips and do telemarketing.”
Best tech tool “Our resort uses the computer software program Delphi, which provides a daily task list and stores our prospects and past groups. It tells us when it is time to call a client back, when a contract or deposit is due, and it will estimate the revenue from rooms we’re booking and our food and beverage items.”
Toughest time“During the recession, our total revenues were down in both leisure and group sales. Now the leisure revenues are strong, and vacationers are coming back. But groups, though they are coming back, are not spending what they did prior to the recession. They are watching their dollars and not staying as long, or not spending money on golfing or spa sessions. Our resort was under major renovation in 2009 and in 2010, right when the economy was really struggling, which was a perfect time to do remodeling. So though we are about to have one of our overall best revenue years this year, we also have an increase in available inventory to sell.”