No. 1098



As I thought about today’s column, “A No-Nonsense Sales Plan,” I recalled a time back in the late 1960s when I was selling printing and office supplies for one of our state’s largest commercial printers. In the course of my work I got to know the late George Fisher, an outstanding artist and political cartoonist for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. George owned a local art studio and he did a lot of artwork for the various printing jobs I sold. One time I recall, after winning a statewide sales award that he did a large caricature of a photo taken on this occasion. The reason I share this is because of the way he signed his work, “To Jim Davidson - the Hardest Working Man in the Western Hemisphere.’
Of course George embellished the truth a bit, but I did work hard. This resulted in a lot of good things happening for me that I never dreamed possible, only a few years before. You may know that “sales” is one of the highest paid professions in the American Free Enterprise System. This is especially true for people like me who do not have a college degree, a prerequisite for most any professional career. If you are in sales, have a family member or friend in sales, you might benefit from the following no-nonsense sales plan. I discovered it in my files, and it was originally printed in the house organ of the Central/Terminal Distribution Centers, based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“You should know that 20 percent of your customers provide 80 percent of your sales. You get more dollars per hour selling to the top 20 percent than to the other customers, (16 times more, in fact.) Double your calls to important customers and reduce your calls to the remaining 80 percent. You will sell more. Another 20 percent of your customers give you only 2 percent of your sales. Drop these customers. Don’t just cut back your visits, drop them. Some include your favorite people. People that make you feel good. People who love to talk about yesterday’s ball game but never buy anything. Scrap them. You’ll sell more.
“In place of those 20 percent you no longer visit, assign 20 percent of your time (all day Monday) to seeing potential customers you have never seen before. Follow up with every new contact a week later, asking for the order, if you didn’t get it on the first visit. You’ll sell more. Do not go to the office before you start selling in the morning. Do not return to the office when you are finished. Do office work in half-day chunks. Once you get to the office, stay there until you have finished all your paper work. Plan this at least a week ahead.
“What about returning phone calls? Call your secretary from home early in the morning and make your calls then and there. You’ll sell more. Do not count your sales calls. The number of sales calls is irrelevant because sales calls are not orders. If you want to sell more, count your sales. If you are not on commission, get on commission. To be paid for sweat, rather than results, stay on a salary. To be paid for results, get on commission. Change from salary to commission to make your income rise along with company profits.
“A good example is when a local firm was recently acquired by another company. The new owner immediately put salesmen on commission. Sales are now higher than before, the company is planning an expansion, and yes, the salesmen make more than their boss. The boss, an astute manager, likes it this way because the company is prospering.” Hope there is an idea here you can use. Happy selling.
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)