Front Lines: Sales—a.k.a., Trench Warfare!


Reading time ( words)

Editor’s Note: New columnist Craig Arcuri will offer expert advice on running and growing a successful EMS company—or any company.

Part 1—Build the Foundation

I was in Kinko’s the other day, and while waiting for the copier to finish printing, I was pacing out of boredom. I stumbled upon a rack filled with candy and treats on one side and a few dozen paperback books on the other. Nearly every book covered one of two subject areas: how to get organized or how to close a sale. I found it interesting, because I was just putting the finishing touches on this article about sales. As I thumbed through a few, I found lots of good ideas I could relate to, many of which I have used myself. Yet none provided step-by-step instructions—at least, not the kind that take you deep into the trenches of real life.  

Let’s get some basics out of the way. I will presume for the moment that if you are reading this, you already know what you are selling and who the likely buyers are. You’ve memorized the features and benefits of your products, and you’ve done your homework on both your customers and your competition. You’ve read about the art of selling, and you’ve refined your sales pitch. I will further assume that once you close a sale, you can do what you said you could do. Lastly, I will assume that in return for money, you performed a service or delivered goods that were well-received. You’re totally prepared for trench warfare! Or are you?

Let me back up and provide some background about myself. I have started and sold several companies, some large and some small. Most were in the crucible that is Silicon Valley. The largest of these companies was $150M in annual revenue and the smallest $5M. Some were manufacturing companies and some were service companies. I have built big sales teams, and at other times I have been the sales team.

Now, you might think Silicon Valley, where money falls off the light poles (it doesn’t), and customers line up to throw money at you (they don’t) is the land of opportunity. Well, it is, but those same truths attract hundreds of competitors just itching to scoop up all that money. So, kid, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. My MBA was earned in the field, making lots of mistakes. I do not claim to be anything other than old, experienced and battle-scarred, but nonetheless, a survivor. I’ve spent my life in the trenches, and along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two.

My resume would tout my decades of experience as a successful CEO. But what does being CEO have to do with sales? Everything! As CEO, you are always selling—to peers, banks, investors, employees, customers, prospective team members, etc. In fact, I would argue that the CEO position of a company of any size is, or must be, the chief master sales person.

I'm sure you already know that the word 'sales' doesn’t mean just closing a deal or getting a purchase order. And certainly, it doesn’t mean winning by outsmarting the buyer. A successful sale (let’s say “deal”) is where both parties get good value out of the transaction. Convincing somebody to buy or accept something that is not in their best interest is not sales; its deception, at best and theft at worst. And in the long run, you’d better get very good at finding new customers, because the old ones will never come back a second time.

So let’s talk about sales—real sales. Not pop sales ideas, not sales jargon of the day, not flavor of the month tactics. Let’s talk about sales in the trenches. Real people. Real products. Real life.  I promise you, if you follow these simple steps to build a sales foundation, you will generate more sales.

After hanging out my shingle as a Business Consultant, I can tell you that every single prospective client answers my, "What do you need?" question with the same answer: "We need more sales." Clients, of course, want me to focus on exactly that end goal.  But when I dig into the operation of the sales organization, if there is one, I quickly discover that what is actually needed are the myriad foundational things that must be in place first. I have tried many analogies, but the one that I think resonates the best is this: You can’t build a house by starting on the second floor.

Together, let’s start digging the foundation. I’ll use real examples, but the names of individuals and companies have been made up to protect the guilty. The stories are real, and they are current. One more caveat... If you’re a fan of the movie Office Space, or of Dave Barry, you’ll easily recognize my sense of humor. If not—take my word for it—sometimes, ya just gotta laugh!

Ready to start working on the foundation? Hang on, because we’re heading down into the trenches.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the December 2016 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.

Share




Suggested Items

Finally, Some Good News About Supply Chain

09/26/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
In this follow-up to his recent interview on the Q4 2022 outlook, Shawn DuBravac, IPC chief economist, provides an update on the incoming supply chain for EMS providers. Naturally, this conversation centers on component availability, where the supply crunch is easing, and by how much. It doesn’t seem we’ll be seeing any across-the-board relief for some time to come, but Shawn’s higher-altitude perspective brings insight to your daily planning.

Thriving Through Greater EMS Collaboration

08/23/2022 | Chris Peters, USPAE
Events of the past two years have clearly demonstrated the value of strong trading relationships. When materials become constrained, as in the recent microchip shortage or any of the pandemic-driven supply chain snafus, the companies that have those materials have a choice to make. Which customers will be put at the front of the line, and which will be placed at the rear? Too often, company executives assume that since they are a large buyer, they automatically will be prioritized when supplies are constrained. Research has shown that this is not always the case, and that assumption can leave a company in a weakened position.

IPC Mexico Continues to Grow

07/20/2022 | Barry Matties and Andy Shaughnessy, I-Connect007
IPC Mexico has been growing for the past few years, and it’s no wonder: Mexico has become a major hub in the world of PCB manufacturing, spurred in part by reshoring as companies pulled work back from China during the pandemic. As the country’s maquiladoras thrived, IPC began expanding the Mexican educational and training operations, and the group recently named Lorena Villanueva as director of IPC Mexico. Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties recently spoke with Lorena and IPC Vice President of Education David Hernandez about IPC Mexico’s growth, as well as the office’s plans to provide PCB manufacturers the training resources they need to succeed.



Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.