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Marketing Excellence

18:39 14 October in News

by SUSAN FITZGERALD in The Columbian on 10/14/1996

The ColumbianThat new sales rep you hired seemed like a promising employee, but he’s always promising more than he can deliver. Or maybe you’re in business yourself, and you need to figure out how to sell your own great product.

In either scenario, there is a Vancouver business that can help.

“It’s difficult to tell how they’re going to turn out after you hire them,” said Mike Dikeos, a principalof Sales Tactics in Vancouver.

Sales Tactics is the local office of the Sandler Sales Institute, an international consulting firm that specializes in business development strategies and professional sales and sales management training.

The Sandler Sales Institute was named No. 1 in management and training programs for 1996 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

It is the first U.S. company authorized to provide sales and marketing training for certification under ISO 9000, the international standard for excellence.

The company offers sophisticated pre-employment screening techniques, as well as on-going seminars and peer group workshops that are intended to foster long-term change and improvement in sales performance.

For example, the salesperson’s self-assessment is a comprehensive evaluation that uncovers strengths and weaknesses, such as the individual’s own buying behavior. The premise is that these attitudes influence what he or she will expect as “normal” behavior from sales prospects. There are also assessments for hiring and for sales managers.

The evaluation processes were created by Dave Kurlan, a national sales development expert, who found that typical psychological profiles are not a predictor of sales success.

The way Dikeos explains it, the screening helps employers find out who can sell and who will sell. The screening test takes only about an hour to administer and costs $150.

Training trap

While there’s no shortage of one-day-wonder seminars, Dikeos said their effectiveness is minimal.

Training may not help if there’s no baseline. And one-day training doesn’t offset years of attitudes and habits.

The best training is incremental and ongoing, Dikeos said.

There are several levels of program services from Sales Tactics to choose from: President’s Club, providing up to 30 hours of training monthly for those aiming to reach the top rung in sales; selling skills for non-selling professionals, for accountants, attorneys, engineers and others who must develop new clients to increase their business; and customized programs for businesses.

The programs offer seminars, workshops, coaching, tapes, role-playing and ongoing peer support groups that help people overcome bad sales habits with training, support and reinforcement.”These are the only tools of their kind,” Dikeos said. Use of the Kurlan assessment system alone promises to increase individual sales 25 percent to 300 percent.

Costs for these services range from $150 to several hundred dollars.


About 85 percent of sales reps have a strong need for approval. They don’t want to hear “no” from a customer, so they’ll settle for “think it overs” when what they need to do is “go for the no” so they can move on. Make sure it’s your approval they need, not the customer’s.

Productive sales reps will have “buy cycles” that match corporate needs. A “buy cycle” refers to the amount of time it takes reps to buy something for themselves. They will transfer this expectation to your business. If you need someone with a short cycle (a week or less), don’t hire one that a screening interview indicates takes a long time to make their own purchases.

Find out what a prospective sales rep thinks is a significant amount of money. If it’s more than the product you’re selling, the sales rep will have a hard time pitching your product. Also, a screening interview will determine whether the person has a hard time addressing money, since we are taught that it’s not polite to deal with it head-on.

From David Kurlan, The Objective Management Group, Southboro, Mass.

Principals: Mark Dikeos and Oliver Connolly

Address: 400 E. Evergreen Blvd., Suite 303, Vancouver, WA 98660

Telephone: 696-9032

Fax: 696-9676

(Copyright 1996)

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