There many things that you may look for when hiring a new employee, depending upon the job you expect that person to do. Yet I found, in 18 years of managing my own advertising agency, and 15 years as a manager for others before that, that in addition to whatever else may be needed, there are two qualities required to do a superior job, no matter what the job is.
It took me many years of hiring experience to learn what my two imperatives are. Like other bosses, I made my share of mistakes to discover that the qualities are:
1) Genuine enthusiasm for the job. Someone who has a positive outlook on the world in general, and the energy and sense of commitment to overcome difficulties and get the job done.
2) Strength of character. Someone who can be trusted to be absolutely honest and loyal, and to do the right thing.
Finding both these qualities in one person isn’t a simple matter. But when you do, you’ve found a strong candidate. In many instances, just these two qualities may be enough to identify a successful employee. If he has those, and is reasonably bright, you can teach him the rest.
You’ve seen it happen. You’re in the middle of your sales presentation and your prospect’s eyes begin to wander. She starts to fiddle with things on her desk. Do doubt about it, she’s lost interest.
You press on, hoping something in your pitch will pull her back in, but you know it’s unlikely. She’s already made up her mind: She doesn’t want what you’re selling, and she’s impatiently waiting for you to finish.
Could you have saved the situation? Very possibly. By involving her early on, making your presentation into a two-way communication, rather than a monolog from you — by asking her questions to draw her into the presentation.
“We have next morning delivery when we get your phone order by 2:30. Do you get a lot of rush orders from your customers? Would our quick delivery help you manage them?”
“How much would our bulk order pricing have saved you last year?”
“What kind of color printing do you specialize in?”
Not only do you involve your prospect, and keep her attention from straying when you ask questions. Her answers reveal what concern her most, so you can relate your product to them.
Keep asking questions. It’s an effective way to keep your prospect’s mind focused on you and what you’re selling.
Don’t you agree?
In these times of tightened budgets, you may find it difficult to compete with lower-priced competition, especially when you’re selling a premium product at a premium price. Rather than lowering your price, and likely bringing your profit margin down to a dangerous level, a smarter approach in many situations is to make a strong case for the increased value your product delivers. That is, your product costs more because it’s worth more.
It takes aggressive, competitive marketing to make that case, and will probably require advertising and/or promotion to drive home your message about quality. Be prepared to increase marketing pressure: sales letters, promotional mailings, brochures, PowerPoint presentations — and advertising, if appropriate and affordable.
It’s possible that you might be forced to lower your price anyway. But don’t do it without a marketing fight, and only as a last resort.