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Sales and Selling

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


I work in inside sales with 20 other salespeople. At a recent Internet convention, all of us worked very hard to bring in leads. But, the only people who were given the leads were the sales reps who management thought would have a higher probability of closing them. This means that I went to work just to generate leads for other salespeople. How do I approach management and ask why they did this to us?
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I just started working for a new company in inside sales. They hired 4 people when I was hired. In a month and a half, not one of us has made a sale. We make 60 to 80 outbound calls a day. The employees who have been working here for a while take the incoming calls, and that is the only way the salespeople are making sales. We are supposed to get these calls too, but we won't get them. People are unfriendly here, and we all feel we should find other jobs. What do you think we should do?
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I am an independent contractor and I was in the process lining up a project with a rapidly-growing company. My contact person was smart, organized, and supportive. Unfortunately, she had to turn my project over to an individual who is impossible to deal with. He won't return calls, he cancels meetings at the last minute, and he has all but shelved the project. What do you suggest?
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I am in sales, and I have been very successful with my territory. The problem is that when my new sales manager comes into town, he likes to go on sales calls with me, but then he takes over. He starts talking and even tries to close, and I don't like this at all. He knows how I feel, but the problem goes on. Any suggestions?
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One of my friends was having a hard time in his job, and I encouraged him to go into sales. He found a sales position with a company in our industry, and now he wants me to buy their products. We are satisfied with our current supplier, and we don't need his. In light of the circumstances, I feel strange saying "no" to him, and I wonder what you suggest.
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A friend of mine is good friends with an individual who works in a senior position at a company where I want to do some business. I asked her if she can open a door for me, and she said she would be glad to. She called her friend and told him to expect a call from me. I have called him four times and he has not returned my call. I'm a little embarrassed to go back to my friend, and I'm wondering if I should just forget the whole thing.
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A sales rep and I were making a presentation when our customer raised a pretty basic question. My associate said that I had just asked the same question and it was easy to answer. I never asked this question, since anyone who works here knows the answer. This made me look like a fool. It took all my power not to blurt something out on the spot, but I waited until we were in the car and then told him to never do that again. He told me that I'm overreacting and he was just building a bond with the customer. What do you say?
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One of my associates needed an introduction to a certain sales prospect, and I got it for him. The two of them hit it off well and will most likely be doing some business together. I did not hear a word of thanks, and I'm annoyed. Do you think I should say something?
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I am a sales manager, and during the summer, I told the sales team that if they exceeded the goal, I would shave all the hair off my head. Well, they roared right past it, but things have changed since the summer and I'm not in the mood to do this. How bad would it be if I deferred it?
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One of our best salespeople just returned from vacation with a small diamond pierced through her nose. It's the first thing you notice when you see her, and I cannot imagine why she did this. I am concerned about the reaction of her customers. What should I say to her?
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During an interview with an applicant for a sales job, his cell phone rang and he then took a brief business call. When it ended, he used the call as an example of his strong sense of customer service. How does his sound to you?
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Last quarter I beat my sales quota by over 100%. Now my sales manager has raised my quota to a number that is just about impossible to reach. This is not fair, and I'd like to know if there is a way to get him to change it back.
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I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position and I noticed that his shoes were very scuffed. If this is how he takes care of his appearance when trying to get a job, I figure he'll do the same thing when he tries to sell our products. Should I pass on him?
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We are in sales and our company has a very grumpy receptionist who answers the phones. She is short with the callers, always in a huff, and by the time the call gets to us, the caller is upset. We have mentioned this to the receptionist's supervisor and even to management, but their attitude is that she is doing just fine. What can we do about this?
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I am in sales, and our company just implemented a new system that requires us to complete a huge amount of paperwork. We don't see the value of most of it, but our manager tells us that it will improve our efficiency. When we complained, he made it very clear that the paperwork has to be completed. How does this sound to you?
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We have a new sales manager, and he thinks he knows everything. He has these nasty little suggestions for just about everything we do, and he has poured all this additional paperwork on us. How do we deal with him?
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I am an independent contractor trying to land an important project with one company for the past 9 months. Most of my correspondence is by e-mail, and the person I am dealing with keeps saying that they are almost ready to make a decision, but they need a few more weeks. I've met with him and everything is great, and then it's back to e-mails and delays. Do you have any ideas?
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I work on the sales floor, and I had an excellent record here until a problem occurred with a very difficult customer last week. He was nasty and insulting, and I was not very nice in response. He wrote a letter to my manager and to the owner of the company complaining about me, and my manager read the riot act to me. Does this seem fair?
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I work in a shop as a volunteer. People come in and bother us, staying for hours, waiting to see if someone brings a donation that they want. They try to get it before anyone else can have a chance to look at it, and before it is even checked out and priced. Our manager says, "The buyer is always right." These people have become friendly with the manager, stay as long as they want, and nothing is said. What should we do?
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I am a salesman, and I can sell anything. I was recently downsized from the metal industry because of a merger, and I took a car salesman job for the time being. I did not finish college, I'm 38 years old, and I do not want to go back to school. The lack of a college degree comes up every time I apply somewhere. How do I get around this in a resume so that I can at least get the interview and sell myself?
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I was at a party and met someone who would be a great customer. We hit it off very well, and he told me to call him at work, which I did 3 days ago. I left him a voicemail message, and he has not called me back. I don't want to seem over-eager, but I don't want to lose this lead. Any thoughts on what to do next?
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I work for a large company in the customer relations department, and I receive many complaints from angry customers. Some of the callers become extremely irate and resort to verbal abuse and profanity. Our company policy is to continue the call even if it becomes a personal threat. Failure to adhere to this policy can result in disciplinary action, including termination. What do you suggest?
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As part of my job, I handle customer complaints. Sometimes the callers are very upset, and I have not had any formal training in how to deal with them. Can you give me some pointers?
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One of our better sales reps showed up today wearing an earring in his ear. He is the only male in the company with one, and I don't think it's appropriate attire. We don't have a policy on this, but we expect employees to show reasonable judgment in this area. What should I say to him?
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In our company, we have a small group of employees. One of our co-workers, a sales rep, has extra long conversations with friends and customers. My co-workers have noticed this and are beginning to complain. How can we minimize the talk time without offending the sales rep?
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Is there a point where I should stop leaving messages for a sales prospect to call me? I have called him several times but never get anywhere. If I get him on the phone, he says he's busy and will call me back, but he never does. If I leave a message on his voice mail, I never hear from him.
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I have been in sales with this company for a few years, and I am one of the better salespeople. My goal is to move into management, but my manager told me yesterday that he does not think I have what it takes to be a manager. I don't know what to make of this or what to do about it. What do you suggest?
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I am in sales and make over $200,000. Last year, the company hired a compliance person, and now the president has him handling leads that come in. He is supposed to find out how they heard about us. About 30% of the leads say they don't know. Some of those leads should be mine, but he told me I have no right to leads that do not mention my name, and he should be paid commissions for getting them. How should I proceed? The president has a negative view of salespeople.
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I oversee a customer service department, and I have five reps reporting to me. They all do a good job. My question is how to deal with a rep who repeatedly asks customers to write letters about his good work, and then parades around the office with these letters in hand? Everyone knows that the customers wrote the letters only because they were asked.
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My sales manager usually takes one day every month to ride around with me when I call on my customers. I want to talk with him about my presentations, but he is on his cell phone almost the entire time in the car. He tells me he is too busy to talk to me during these rides. What do you suggest?
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I work in a call center, and almost every week our manager brings in candies, cookies, and bakery goods to reward us for our hard work. I have to lose weight, so I stay away from all of it, and this means I don't get an award. I don't want to sound like an ingrate, but is there a way to ask her for something different?
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I am a customer service rep in a call center, and I have been told by my manager that I spend too much time talking on the phone with customers. I believe it is important to build a relationship with a little friendly chit-chat with any customer who calls, and if this means a little extra time on each call, I don't see the problem. What can I say to convince my manager that this extra time is very important?
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I am in sales and most of our internal communications are through email. I sent my manager a brief note regarding plans for my territory, and I included a fairly creative suggestion. He responded with a short one-liner that was his attempt at humor, but it essentially dismissed me and my suggestion. How should I deal with him?
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We have many vendors stopping by throughout the week, and almost every day, there will be one who has a loud cell phone conversation. This interferes with our receptionist's work, and it is disturbing to other people in the waiting area as well. What's the best way to handle this?
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We just met with the representatives of a training company, and they seem to have some good programs. One of their most powerful selling points is that turnover dropped significantly in a company where they introduced one of their programs six months ago. How do you view a claim like this?
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A few months ago, we spent a considerable amount of money on a sales training program, and we know from surveying the attendees that they enjoyed it and learned a lot. The problem is that we are seeing no change in their sales numbers. How do we get such a positive reaction to the program and nothing else?
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We have an employee who is very competent but very arrogant. He does a good job in outside sales, but he has alienated just about everyone who works here. What is the best way to handle this situation?
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One of my sales reps and I were at a meeting with one of our best customers when this rep made an inappropriate comment that she thought was cute, but it made the customer bristle. I didn't say anything at the time, but I wonder if I did the right thing, and what to do now?
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One of our better sales reps suggested we interview an acquaintance of his for an important sales position. Several of us met with this applicant individually, and then we all went to dinner with him. In both meetings, I found him to be loud, opinionated, and hardly listening, but everyone else thought he was great. They all said this guy is a born salesman. I have real doubts. What can I do?
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I work in a customer service call center, and one of the customers got nasty with me. I did not like his tone or language, and I said so. He snapped back, so I hung up on him. He called back and told my supervisor, and I ended up being disciplined and having the incident placed in my file. Does this seem fair?
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I report to the Chief Operating Officer, and I recently met with a salesperson who is his nephew. I thought the sales presentation was poor, and we do not need his products. I wrote a letter informing him of this. He then contacted his uncle who held a meeting with the three of us, and now his uncle wants me to start using his products. I believe this is a mistake. What should I do?
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We have a small customer service department that handles sales calls from around the country. One of the sales reps has been getting more than her share of customer complaints. We have counseled her, but she always has an excuse. It takes a few months to train a new sales rep, and we donít want to terminate her, at least not yet. What other steps do you suggest?
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I met with a sales representative who pitched a costly software program. I reviewed his materials and did not think the program would work here. A few months later, my manager told me that he met with this same representative and has decided to purchase the program. I believe it was unprofessional for the sales representative to go around me, and I am not pleased with my manager either. What should I do?
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I have had a difficult time filling a sales position, and I finally interviewed an applicant that looked good and spoke well. I was ready to hire him on the spot, but a background check showed he left a few jobs off his resume. I donít think itís a big deal, but several of my co-workers are saying to pass. What do you suggest?
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