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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

A Regimen for Shaping Up Sales

Advice on focusing sales efforts.
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Cleo Belle Robertson had amassed an impressive prospect list for the database-software program her Durham, N.C., company, CBR Associates, had developed for hospital administration. But her sales efforts were going nowhere. Close to bankruptcy, she gambled on consultant David Beyer's advice to focus her efforts. It paid off. Within 30 days she had closed three sales, and today 95% of the prospects she contacts eventually buy the program, PRIVplus. Here's what Beyer taught Robertson:

* Eliminate bargain hunters by raising the price. Robertson had priced PRIVplus at $6,000, right in the middle of the market range for similar programs. Beyer upped the price to $9,000 to distinguish it as the best of its kind.

* Shrink the territory. Robertson had spread her resources thin by trying to sell nationwide. Beyer made her zero in on the 120 hospitals in North Carolina. Selling expenses amounted to the price of gas for a day's drive.

* Get the mail out. Five letters every other day to key people at each prospective hospital was Robertson's quota. She wrote to the people who would use the product as well as to those who would make the final buying decision.

* Work the phones systematically. Beyer started Robertson on a regimen of 6 phone calls an hour, eventually increasing it to 100 calls a day. "I hated the phone," says Robertson, "but David drummed into me that it usually takes 10 calls to make a sale."

* Get your prospects organized. A desk with 120 prospect folders is too cluttered. Beyer had Robertson choose the 10 most likely to close and place a green dot on them. A red dot on a folder meant she had a commitment but no check yet. Her goal was to convert three green dots to red every month and to follow up on the red-dot folders daily.

After Robertson followed Beyer's advice, her sales exceeded $335,000 during the first half of 1991 -- more than double those for all of 1990. -- Teri Lammers

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