4 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Sales
BY John Treace
The truth about sales compensation, customer complaints, and other sales basics
When you run a company--especially a start-up--it can be a 24-hour job. But no matter how busy you are, there's one crucial part of your operation you should never ignore: sales. Not every entrepreneur instinctively understands this part of the business, but if you keep these four things in mind as you lead, you’ll have happier, more productive sales reps and plenty of loyal customers.
1. A good sales team can be as important as a good product. We’ve all heard it: “Create a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” But often it does take effort to demonstrate how great your mousetrap is to potential customers. Even the best products have to be sold, and that’s where your sales team comes in. Astute leaders recognize the value of their sales teams, and they ensure that their teams are made up of top performers.
2. Sales reps should be paid well--maybe even more than you. Many people ask me what they should pay their sales reps. The answer is simple: What’s a sale worth to you? Professional, well-trained, and skillful salespeople help ensure consistent revenue growth. And for many companies, sales reps are the primary contact between the company and customer. They are responsible for the customer’s primary impression of the company. You definitely don’t want a group of cut-rate employees handling this pivotal part of your business. In nearly every high-performance, publicly traded company I’ve worked with, the top salespeople’s income routinely rivaled or exceeded that of the CEO. So don't be resentful or envious if your top salespeople earn more than you do. Instead, recognize the immense benefit they bring to your organization.
3. Yes, the customer is always right. Some entrepreneurs still debate whether or not this maxim is true. But the customer is the ultimate judge of a business and votes with his or her pocketbook. Business owners who stay close to their customers and pay attention to what they have to say will far outperform those who don’t.
4. Customer complaints can be a blessing. No one likes handling a disgruntled customer, but a complaint can actually be a good thing, because it means that the customer wants to continue doing business with you. And, if you manage the complaint in a timely and efficient manner, 95% of complainers will continue doing business with you. That’s what put Nordstrom on the map. The company gave an unconditional guarantee that if a customer was unhappy with a purchase for any reason, Nordstrom would provide a replacement or a refund--without any red tape--100% of the time. Like Nordstrom, you can turn complainers into loyal customers.