Mañana Man's Mailbag —DeWese
Phew! I hate it when people ask me hard questions. Maybe this next letter will be easier.
*** Dear Harris,
I had opportunity last weekend to catch up on reading that I set aside during the holidays. It included your columns for November and January. And I'm starting to get tired of finding that you've been wandering around in my head when I wasn't looking.
You had the effrontery to urge your readers to actively prospect for new business, and managers to track that activity. The nerve. If your readers actually start taking your advice, then some of them might wake up and make it harder for us to keep growing.
Our company is 60 percent larger in VA-sales than we were when I got here five years ago. We track prospecting activity constantly and both the CEO and I are actively involved in pitching new business. It's enabled us to post two flat years in 2001 and 2002 when nearly everyone else in our market showed declines from 12 percent to 20 percent. We replaced all the volume we lost as a whole lot of magazines ceased publishing from October 2000 to December 2002.
You also had the nerve to raise the issue with your readers of negotiating skills on the part of salespeople. DeWese, you're really starting to get under my skin. We spent 20 hours of training time in 2002 (the second half of 10 of our monthly, all-day sales meetings are devoted to training) specifically on negotiation skills.
As a result, the number of our clients under contract with us is at an all-time high; we have several five-year contracts for the first time in our history, and our largest customer signed a contract with an evergreen clause. If the other ne'er-do-wells with whom we compete wake up to the value of training their salespeople to negotiate effectively, it's going to make my job harder. . . again.