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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Sequester Your Sales

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In a previous blog titled Sequester Your Way to Profitability, I focused on sequestering your expenses. For that message, I assumed that you were doing all in your power to grow sales, and the focus was on getting control of and reducing expenses. We are probably never doing all in our power to grow sales, so let’s focus on a couple of ideas not often talked about.

First let’s sequester or “take control” of our sales assets. Too often they have control of us. More to the point, our sales staff can control too much of what goes on in the company. Also, our marketing plan, if we have one, tends to run on automatic. Here is a list to consider for regaining control of your sales process:

  • Fire someone. Nothing makes the point better that something must change if you do not produce commensurate with your cost.
  • Hold accountable. Sales reports, call reports, customers gained and customers lost. You know the list. Sales people don’t like it, but they need to be managed.
  • Hire new talent. You can read every day about a new model for sales success. The truth is our business has become complicated; we need consultative sales people and even team selling with key accounts.
  • Measure performance. Analyze your sales and marketing assets just like you would an equipment or software investment. Are they producing a return on assets? How much are they costing each month, and what incremental results are they producing?
  • Audit your marketing plan. Do you simply set a marketing budget and spend the money with no accountability? Whether it’s a direct mail campaign, community event sponsorship, open house or lunch and learn, you should audit each for ROI.

Other PIworld.com bloggers are much better than me on dealing with and motivating sales and marketing people. However, from the point of view of a business owner, I feel we are way too soft when it comes to demanding performance from our sales and marketing assets. It’s time we sequester these assets, meaning take control of them, rather than letting them control us.

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