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Saturday
Feb042012

Making Your Number

Making Your Number

These days, most people know all too much about performance reviews.

And good or bad - for many, those same reviews determine whether or not they will get a pay raise, a new position, or sometimes, whether they even have a job after the review is over. 

Not so much with sales people.

With sales folks it's all about making your number.

Making your number is pretty much code for "I brought in enough sales, customers, and money that the company can afford to keep me around for another year."

Making your number is all about ensuring your survival and that of your company.

And if you don't make your number, the company doesn't make their's.

Soon, there's no money for anyone. Not for the company and not for your back pocket. Pretty basic stuff. Important stuff. 

About ten years ago, I posted a little story about a man trying to buy his wife a car. It was a pretty simple tale of a man, Gary, wanting to get his wife something nice to drive, something … cool.

Gary didn’t have much trouble deciding what to buy; his wife left him plenty of hints and brochures around the house.  Being somewhat of a computer geek, Gary jumped right on the Internet to get all the facts and figures he needed to make sure he got a great deal on the model she’d so carefully circled.

All was fine until Gary met with the dealer to discuss purchase and delivery. 

Gary handed over his notes and wrote down what he figured was a good price including a not insubstantial amount for the dealer’s profit margin.

To his surprise, the dealer began to laugh and simply pushed the paper back to him.

“You’ll have to do better than that. In fact, you’ll have to do a lot better.”

Gary asked, “How much better”.

“List price plus,… say, $10,000.00”

“What? You have to be kidding.!”

“No. I’m not. So, do you want the car or not?”

Gary decided to check around at other dealerships across the country and found the numbers to be pretty much the same everywhere.

Ten thousand over list.

With his wife’s birthday coming up, Gary threw in the towel, called his dealer and said “Load it up.”

On the drive home, Gary thought about his new purchase.

How could his initial number been so wrong?

He’d double checked every source. Read every review. What was going on?

Wasn’t the Internet supposed to put more power in the hands of the consumer?

The car Gary Hamel, author of Competing for the Future (Leading the Revolution, and others), so desperately wanted for his wife was a BMW X5 – one of the “hot” cars back in the days when SUV’s ruled the highways. 

It was the first SUV from a company known for luxury sports cars so it was far from a commodity. It was, as the dealer reminded him, the coolest thing on the block. 

So cool, so desirable, that unless you were willing to fork over a lot of money and wait your turn, you were simply out of luck.

Imagine if you could use “coolness” to differentiate your products or services and making your clients/customers feel smart about purchasing from you.

Worse yet, imagine that you don’t have anything to distinguish you, your company, or your services from every other company out there.  Think you can maintain your share of the market? or margins?

Think again.

Fast forward a dozen years or so and the World is a very different place.

Companies large and small are just trying to keep their head above water right along side the very consumers they depend on. Everyone is in a holding pattern with one notable exception – Apple.

Apple has built its very existence around being different.

About being cool.

Their products exude class and sophistication and their pricing and margins reflect that.

Imagine being in sales at Apple versus …. well, you fill in the blank.  Now let your imagination work just a little more and try to envision a world where everyone is chasing your customer.

That shouldn’t be too hard. Understand that lowering prices, sacrificing quality, and cutting corners isn’t going to be enough to save you.

Not in a world that increasingly offers consumer’s so many choices.

How do you plan to prosper in this economy? to stand out?

Making sure you have a cool, well designed product or service is probably a good place to start.

At the very least, you should make every effort to help your customer/client feel good about selecting your offering, your company, and you.  Better yet, be the “smart” choice and make them feel smart about their decision.

After all, it may just come down to whether or not you’re “cool” enough and “smart” enough to survive.

Might help with that "making your number" thing too. Just a bit, don't you think?  

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