Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

How to Get a Top Return on Your Sales Investment


A sales manager for a large media company once asked me for my suggested reading on sales improvement. (I’ll answer the question later in this article.) The executive’s question underscored a lot of what I’ve been reading lately – there’s a sales talent war in this country. Companies simply cannot get enough good salespeople.

Not to oversimplify, but here are three basic solutions to the problem. You must take good care of your quality people. You need to recruit the best people and check your motives before hiring sales employees. And, you should groom your employees on sales and relationship selling. 

Don’t settle. Countless articles can easily be found on how to take good care of your good employees and on recruitment.

Business Graph

                                                                                               Business Graph illustration by Виталий Смолыгин

Actually, many companies make the mistake of settling for mediocre salespersons when they hire. A published report recently stated that only 40 percent of applicants send a thank you note immediately following an interview. The logical solution here: Recruit people with an attitude of gratitude and attitude of service. Applicants will either give you a red warning flag or a green light to hire them.

Naturally, it’s easier to make money if your newly hired salespeople develop ongoing relationships with customers and clients.

So, do your salespeople ask the right questions? Do they keep detailed records? Do they approach the right people?

Moreover, are you asking the right questions about your business?

Naturally, every industry has unique circumstances, but here are 45 generic but salient questions to ask in evaluating your sales program:

  1. What is your vision for your organization?
  2. Where do you want to be this year?
  3. Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  4. Where do you want to be in 10 years?
  5. What emergencies are coming up?
  6. What are your five strongest strengths or selling points?
  7. What are your weaknesses?
  8. What are your competitive advantages?
  9. What are your competitive disadvantages?
  10. Who are your major competitors?
  11. What are their strengths?
  12. What are their weaknesses?
  13. How do you pay your salespeople? What benefits do you offer?
  14. What are your major brands?
  15. What are your best sources of co-op funds?
  16. Have you performed market-mapping or an analysis of demographic segmentation in terms of households, desired income levels, gender, and age?
  17. Are you satisfied with your average customer profile? Why? Why not?
  18. What would you like to improve?
  19. What is your CSI or level of customer satisfaction?
  20. What products do you sell?
  21. At what price? Margin? Markup? What is your derived demand?
  22. How much do you want to sell?
  23. How many have you sold?
  24. What are your peak sales months? Peak sales days? Peak sales hours?
  25. What are your immediate sales objectives?
  26. What are your long-range objectives?
  27. What about your marketing plan? In order of importance, what are your most important marketing events of the year? What’s on your marketing calendar?
  28. What does the cost-benefit-analysis of your marketing show?
  29. What are your green/environmental goals?
  30. What are your annual gross sales?
  31. Competitive benchmarking – how does your budget and results compare with your industry median per capita?
  32. Internet sales vs. bricks and mortar?
  33. What drives unique-visitor traffic to your site? Conversion rate from visitor to customer?
  34. What drives in-person visits?
  35. Which strategies work? How do you quantitatively evaluate your expenses and where your dollars go?
  36. How do you stay in touch with your customers?
  37. What is your Mission Statement?
  38. What is your branding message? Is it consistent?
  39. What are your centers of influence and sources of forward integration?
  40. What are your synergistic opportunities?
  41. How do you view business conditions?
  42. Are you following what state lawmakers are doing to help or hinder the business climate? What are you doing about it?
  43. What do you view as the most important civic/societal problems?
  44. What are your preferred civic solutions? Are you helping the community?
  45. What are your non-business interests or hobbies? Hint: Are you getting enough R&R?

If you get the right answers to these basic questions, you’ve laid the groundwork for a great ROI on your sales program. Here are 11 sales strategies to outsell your big competitors.

From the Coach’s Corner, there are a lot of good books on selling. What was my suggestion to the sales manager on what to read?

Read anything written by the Harvey MacKay, who inspired the checklist of questions. I ask similarly worded questions of new clients.

He’s written five bestsellers, he’s a syndicated columnist, and is popular on the speaking circuit.

See: www.harveymackay.com.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

-Dale Carnegie


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.