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Sales Suggestions Anyone?

How to get employees to pitch revenue generating ideas to management.

Boosting sales is everybody's job, even for those who aren't salespeople, at Telecom Library, headquartered in New York City. This past winter cofounder Gerry Friesen issued a memo that was a shocker: layoffs were inevitable at the 60-employee publishing company, it said, unless everyone pitched in with ideas -- not for cost cutting but for gaining more sales.

It wasn't only the threat of layoffs that got people's attention, but also "the opportunity for them to work directly with me and show their stuff," says Friesen. He listened and asked questions. Then he told employees to flesh out their ideas or explained why they weren't feasible. For promising suggestions, he would always ask, "Do you have time to do this?" If employees said yes, they got the go-ahead.

Editorial employees repackaged a dated but popular book to rejuvenate its sales. Sales staffers exchanged their 50 most-difficult-to-close accounts among themselves. The company got more mileage out of its editorial mailing list by using it to pull together a conference. Six months later, though ad sales are still off, there have been no layoffs, revenues are up, and the company is profitable. -- Teri Lammers

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Last updated: Oct 1, 1991

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