Being in the pet business means ... to be in business!

And businesses exist to sell stuff to their customers. Which makes yours a sales organization.

Now, of course you know that on some level, but do you show it in the very fabric and fiber of your business practices?

For example, how well trained are you and your people? Do you have a systematic approach to selling your products and services, or do you pretty much fly by the seat of your pants?

Are you and your staff consistently training on products and salesmanship? Are there requirements designed to ensure skill in both of these critical areas?

What does your compensation system look like for on-the-floor sales staff?

The great industrialist Peter Drucker said there are just two legitimate functions of business: marketing and innovation. Are you committed to these two legitimate functions of business?

If you’re one of the vast majority of pet business owners who must reluctantly admit  your commitment to sales and marketing isn’t what it can and should be, here are a few tips to help improve things quickly and dramatically.

1

Hire with sales in mind. Stop looking for the lowest-expense employee and begin looking for sales help that will really help. Help the bottom line, that is ... by courteously, but assertively, helping your clients get more of what they came for anyway. In other words, people who can and will sell. They’ll make a far greater contribution to the short and long-term financial health of your enterprise than “cheap labor.”

2

Train, train and train again. All top sales organizations are constantly training their salespeople. Some train daily; none less than weekly. Institute a weekly sales training meeting and make sure content includes sales techniques and role playing, in addition to mere pet product knowledge. An hour a week for such meetings will pay incredible dividends.

In addition, institute a daily “10-to-10 Meeting.” Each day, 10 minutes before you open the doors, huddle up with your staff and go over things. Remind them what promotions you’ve got going on, along with items you’re specifically trying to up- and add-on-sell. Remind them of incentives you’ve installed to encourage them to sell.

3

Don’t forget rewards and consequences. You want to reward your salespeople for successfully accomplishing their goals, and you must also let them feel the consequences if they fail to even try. This affects your compensation structure as well. Have you considered putting your staff on commission or partial commission? Do you have a bonus structure in place? And don’t forget to provide short-term rewards like cash, candy, lunches, movie tickets or other incentives to modify behavior at first. As you install an up-selling and add-on-selling system for example, these rewards will help established staff adjust their behaviors.

Consequences for consistently failing to make an effort range, on a graduated scale, from a mere talking-to or extra mandatory training, all the way up to dismissal, with several steps in between.

4

Train yourself and participate in your own systems. Hey, you are not exempt from keeping your own skills honed. In fact, your responsibility to do so is the highest of anyone in your business. You must dedicate yourself to sales and marketing education. Set aside daily time to work on your business, not just in  it.

And of course, when you’re wearing the salesperson hat, you should get the same rewards for success that your other salespeople get — and the same consequences if you fail to even try. Your consistency in applying the rules and rewards to yourself as well as to your team will not only motivate you, but will convince the team of your commitment and motivate them to follow your example.

There’s a sales adage that uses the acronym ABC: Always Be Closing. There are warm, friendly, elegant and appropriate ways to do just that, without being perceived as a “pushy salesman.” Learn and use those ways to always be closing to make sure you’ll never be closing.

Jim Ackerman is a marketing speaker, marketing coach, author and ad writer. He is offering Pets+ readers a free Marketing Fitness Check-up to find and fill the holes in your marketing and advertising efforts. Send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For speaking services go to marketingspeakerjimackerman.com. Subscribe to his weekly marketing videos at YouTube.com/bizkaboom.


 This article originally appeared in the May 2018 edition of PETS+.   

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