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It's not about the targets

It's not about the targets

The Closer

Simon Scott has been sales for longer than he cares to remember. He is now the director of Supply Chains at Acquire – when he’s not watching the Olympics.

How did you get into sales?

Two reasons: I spent my school holidays slaving in orchards and vineyards prematurely aging. And I was impressed with the company cars that the horticultural reps that visited had. And I never wanted to work outside again and wanted a cushy inside job with a company car and free gas to go surfing every weekend. My first sales job was at NZI Insurance which I got after being kicked out of Massey University and being banned from attempting any science degree in the future.

What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?

My worst experience in cold calling was when I was working for a radio station. I was their account manager while working for NZI insurance and they headhunted me to sell radio advertising. I had just come back from an NZI sales training camp and was feeling bullet proof, so I accepted the job. I was sent out to sell a $2,000 advertising package to a whole lot of florists. I quickly discovered that most florists at the time earned $2,000 a month. I felt like the devil coercing poor people into handing over their precious food based on a promise of completely unreal amazing returns. I hated the job and quit after a month and ran away to Sydney where I re-joined NZI and became an underwriter in the international broker branch.

What’s your most successful tip for cold calling?

Please smile – in person or down the phone line. Start candidly, launch at medium volume and avoid punctuating each leading phrase or sentence. Stop to listen, show empathy and reply earnestly.

Is money your only motivator for being successful?

My strength is my desire for each party to win and I get a kick out of sensing satisfaction from my customers. Money is not the motivator for me at all. Surviving with integrity is my motivator and good things come from good things.

What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?

If you like the product then learn more about it and become an expert. Becoming an expert gives you a pathway to success and also a fall back position. If you don’t like the product then get out fast.

What percentage do you consider your personality contributes to your success compared to the product and the company?

Our company transacts in a very highly competitive environment and the product is the same for all of our competitors. I believe my personality plays a huge part in my success. The company is the product of my business partner and I and I’d like my personality to be the great winner but really my success is his and his mine.

Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?

I actually don’t believe in targets, I focus on performing better than competitors and this is much more motivating. If only five people die and five coffins were sold and I sold three of them, then I did better than the competitor. Having a target of 10 coffins is irrelevant and this scenario describes a lot of ridiculous targets unnecessarily placed on people. You can only swim as far as the pool is long.

How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?

I hold on to the classic definition. We sell to people who want to buy and the art is getting people to buy what you want them to because they want to do it.

How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?

I was fortunate to achieve a sale in the first week of establishing the company and this was the result of forming a very strong relationship with a previous customer.

How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training and generating leads or opportunities?

I think I currently focus mostly on the product much more. The product is now “our company” and on creating a compelling offer. Lead generation for me has become one of the empowerment features that make selling as easy as possible for our employee’s and customers.

What’s the best deal you have ever closed?

Fun wise – I sold the first shipment of DLT media tapes for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Tech wise – my first large order of custom built PC’s to the police forensics guys. I wasn’t sure what half of the components even did.

Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?

Successful selling is being a great people person. Success for me means long standing relationships that benefit everyone involved and I would love for my kids to become people people.


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