One of the most fascinating thing about sales is learning something every single day about how to improve.
First and foremost, people love to buy, enjoy good showmanship and hate to be sold a bill of goods.
Most effective selling is blocking and tackling with a coordinated team effort as opposed to a one man statue of liberty play.

If you are not thinking about sales and revenue, your competition is and may flatten you without you ever seeing it coming.
The best sales people are completely honest and are incredibly effective at:
1. Discovering new markets 
2. Selling additional features, products and services to existing customers
3. Finding new ways for different usage of existing products and services
4. Absorbing competitive strengths, reporting it quickly and determining how to adapt or reposition
5. Getting great referrals to more prospective customers
6. Making the firm more money than they are paid

There are some exceptions, but generally sales people don’t like doing the same things your customers don’t really want:
1. Being a pest and calling on the client more than is reasonable
2. Dishonesty — including selling something that doesn’t perform well
3. Overselling and/or having to resell constantly because the competition is much better at providing the service or product

Clearly, big business understands the need for an extremely knowledgeable and capable sales team and has invested heavily to effectively compete.
Generally, one of the original entrepreneurs at a small company is pretty good with customer interface, but there usually comes a time when they can’t squeeze a quarter of their time into the details of selling and that is a clear indication to hire sales professionals. Since you cannot manage what you can’t measure, there will need to be some systems in place that can actually measure and improve sales performance. This is much bigger than just the number of sales calls or revenue goals. 

Think about your firm’s strengths and play on them, then evaluate your weaknesses because some of them are the most valuable. For instance, if you are paying your drivers more than others, it could be positioned as a mega strength that you have the best drivers, which makes for higher quality, less turnover, better customer knowledge and how to help the customer. Make sure your drivers have a business card and at least their first name on the uniform (or hat).
Campaigns should be considered quarterly with a revenue objective, measurement, spiffs for those beating goals and a formal name. I did a campaign once because we were on the brink of taking a competitor’s largest and most profitable account. Our entire team called on every one of their other accounts and gave them a mini-proposal with a dare for them to ask the incumbent competitor to match it. The competitor’s sales team was inundated with requests and they ignored their biggest customer. Essentially we smoke screened our competition, and benefited by landing the target, gaining five additional accounts from them and received a bonus when their head of sales was asked to “pursue other interests.”

My preferred steps in the sales process are called APPCOMM:
1. Approach — Plan carefully how to open the door (little things make a difference) and make sure you are polite to everyone, especially the receptionist. Sometimes the real influencer is not the “official buyer.” For instance, the CFO has a big say, but does way more than just logistics. Set up the meeting and cover every detail.
2. Present — This should be semi-customized, not off the rack and not so unusual that they are more fascinated with the media than the service/product you are presenting. Knowing this incredibly well is key. Build flex to expand or contract into your presentation flow. Control the presentation without being overbearing.
3. Propose — Give them something to work with that includes your features, your advantages and their benefits. Assume the doc will be shared in their organization. Set a timeline. 
4. Consult — Ask questions, shape the solution to their needs, and provide the documents necessary (contract, rates, etc). Encourage them to ask them something from the incumbent competitor that is in your favor.
5. Objections — Anticipate these with strong data and logic to overcome. If you don’t hear an objection, you will not land the deal. This is where price comes in; if you are the highest price spread, justify why they need the best.
6. Motivate — Essentially means to close, now, not next week. Gain their agreement in the form of their signature. 
7. Manage — This is the process to move the deal quickly forward. Involve invoicing, IT, their sales exec, marketing and every other department necessary at the client to get this moving forward with minimal friction

APPCOMM works extremely well for small business, large corporations, products, services, solutions, high or low price, new or industry legends and to every targeted department. It is “The Process,” stick with it, refine it, but don’t add or subtract any steps.
Honestly, it is easy to lull yourself into thinking you have seen it all. After thirty-plus years, I thought I had heard every single way to sell a mega deal and then I realized that what Google has done in Austin is stunning. Never mind that they have one competitor with one hundred years of entrenched service literally hanging from every telephone pole named AT&T. Google introduced Google Fiber, which provides basic internet for free, and for a price they provide a full gigabit for web and tv. The governor of Texas, mayor and every other politician in sight have now compared it with the breakthrough of providing electricity to rural America. 

Competition heated up and matched Google’s prices (but not their finesse) and the roll out is moving forward with breakneck speed. Google has already connected to 25,000 poles with only about 150,000 to go along with 3,000 miles of cable. They have already done this in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, next are Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. How did they do it in Austin? They hired multiple very well connected politicians, engaged an excellent PR firm, donated more money to all politicians with their lobbyists and started inviting high profile people to major events. Totally coordinated, brilliantly executed and utilized time as a competitive weapon.

With Amazon, Google, Walmart, Uber, Lyft and eBay joining the fray with FedEx and UPS, I believe we will see a revolution in service solutions that will smartly utilize technology, particularly mobile. Their services will become dominant and make it very difficult to alter. 

Rob Shirley is CEO of ExpresShip, a strategic consultancy in the global supply chain. Contact him at or visit or check him out on