Helping Meyers Work Smarter
Meyers is a full-service, one-stop shop for custom POS displays, labels, and promotional products — from design and prototyping to printing, mounting, die-cutting and distribution. The company’s focus on customer service through teamwork has earned it the confidence of America’s top retailers.
- Despite flat revenue in the Label Group, net profit is up due to higher margin and higher value account relationships.
- The POS group drove highly profitable 14 percent top-line growth, exceeding even their stretch goal.
- With more than 30 percent fewer salespeople, the company makes better use of all of its resources.
- By eliminating waste caused by lack of formalized sales hiring and sales management processes, the company has reduced costs.
- Better quality sales are generated by better quality salespeople.
- Sales flowchart maps out seven steps of every sales opportunity for accountability and post-mortem analysis.
The CEO’s perspective
When David Dillon recalls his return to the family business as CEO after a stint with a venture-backed web technology business start-up, he remembers enthusiastically introducing better ways of doing things at a higher operational level that he had been exposed to. At the same time, Meyers was experiencing zero growth as a result of a more mature competitive marketplace, so he realized the sales organization needed attention.
While he first focused on “fixing the boat” with Six Sigma, one of his executive colleagues had heard Danita Bye speak at an industry organization meeting. “We talked with Danita and spent six months analyzing all of our options, including sales training firms.” Ultimately, Dillon and his executive team chose Danita’s Sales Growth Specialists because she offered a total approach.
Dillon admits he has a somewhat negative impression of outside consultants. “Most give you good advice, but leave you to muddle through implementation.” However, he adds, “We absolutely could not have fixed our sales issues ourselves. And in hindsight, we needed the ‘backbone’ that SGS provided to actually help us implement our new sales management processes and transform our sales culture into a disciplined organization.”
The transformation took approximately two years. According to Dillon, “If Danita had told me that it was going to take that long, I probably would have walked away. But now I see that we could not have moved any faster. It took time to assess, develop and implement new processes, measure how well each process worked, tweak and continue — it’s like moving at hull speed.”
From assessing the organization’s skills and processes and determining what was and wasn’t working, SGS helped Meyers build a sales force with the right talent and implement sales management processes that kept salespeople focused.
“We stopped tolerating salespeople who couldn’t write, couldn’t focus, were reluctant to call and weren’t talented,” Dillon says. “The training and processes we implemented drove turnover at all levels in the sales organization — executive, management and salespeople.”
Has it paid off? Dillon wholeheartedly agrees that the new approaches SGS helped Meyers adopt contributed significantly to the company’s best year ever (FY ended 9/30/07). And this year is ahead of last year!
Ask POS Group President Fred Silloway and Label Group President Gregg Temple about their success in growing more profitable business, and they’ll tell you that it was the focus that Danita brought to their executive table.
Fred explains that even as the company was interviewing consultant candidates, Danita demonstrated her understanding of the sale process. “Unlike others who brought their canned PowerPoint presentations, Danita brought a notebook and asked questions. She made us feel pain we didn’t know we had. It was easy to see that she knew what she was talking about.”
Gregg adds, “Our ink supplier couldn’t say enough about how she had helped them turn their sales downtrend around. The fact that they are in a commodity business was even more impressive.”
Profitable revenue growth
Executive level workshops and an assessment process revealed and addressed areas that needed attention. Gregg says, “One of SGS’s colleague’s seminars really hit the mark regarding how to make our sales process more efficient. “We realized that we were burning through a lot of time answering RFPs we never had a chance of getting,” Fred explains. “Today, we submit fewer quotes and proposals. Yet we have more customers and more revenue. It’s because we’re focusing on deciphering which prospects offer us the best opportunities and optimizing them to grow our close rate. And, we have fewer salespeople doing more — making more money for themselves and the corporation. We learned how to manage our sales team so much better; how to leverage their strengths.”
Bad hires a rare occurrence
SGS helped Meyers assess its current sales force and non-selling support staff, and establish a process for assessing candidates. Turnover took a dive, according to Fred. “POS was hiring 10 people to get just one good one. After two years and $200,000 in hard costs, we would fire the ones that weren’t working out. We aren’t just saving those hard costs; these people were consuming other employees’ time. We were no doubt losing good opportunities. Maybe worst of all, we were risking Meyers’ reputation.”
Now that Meyers is relying on a comprehensive objective process for attracting, recruiting, screening, and hiring sales candidates, their sales team is 30 percent smaller, and costs associated with estimating and creative services are down. But the hit rate is higher. “Our focus is sharper, the clutter is gone,” Fred explains.
And initially, while some people who fought the new environment, or couldn’t execute it left, Gregg says that today retention is much higher as a result of applying several SGS’ principles and management tools.
“We segmented our accounts, so the sales force handles A and B accounts, and customer service staff handles C accounts (smaller volume, less frequent contact),” says Fred. “This arrangement has not only given our customer service staff a development/growth opportunity with some SPIFF, but also a great appreciation of the salespeople. Now we feel there is a real team effort between customer service and sales.”
“The new, commission-based compensation program rewards the kind of behaviors we’re looking for,” says Fred. “There’s a built-in incentive to stay focused on higher value products. And it works. That’s what our most successful people are selling.”
According to Fred, he had his doubts about one salesperson, who assessed below averaged when they tested the original sales force. “She had been frustrated with the lack of her progress in selling new accounts. I had serious doubts about her, but she glommed onto the sales training and practiced the principles relentlessly. She even amazed herself at how well it worked. Her confidence was boosted, and she began closing huge, extremely profitable deals.”
Day in the sun
Like most companies, Meyers used to have annual sales meetings, where management beat their goals and messages into the sales force. “Having learned from Danita that individual attention is a critical coaching strategy, we initiated “Day in the Sun” meetings with one salesperson, one or two sales managers and an executive,” says Fred. “The salesperson delivers a presentation he/she creates based on our outline, which includes personal and professional goals for both the short and long term. We’ve gotten solid return on our time in terms of accountability. It’s a good opportunity for self-examination, commitment, and account/prospect analysis. We discuss strategies for increasing share of wallet, whether we should divest certain accounts.”
Focus is key
Fred adds, “Salespeople think they need a large number of prospects, but they don’t. They need to put the full court press on three or four great ones. Our account conversion statistics prove that the shotgun approach doesn’t work. We created a Focus 250 list and narrowed it down to our Focus 25. We don’t advertise in trade publications, don’t go to trade shows. Our marketing effort is truly our reputation and one-on-one campaigns with prospects. Focus — on the right behaviors, beliefs, skill sets and prospects — is the key to our success.”
As Meyers’ Label Group navigated their mature, competitive industry, they applied the lessons that SGS had exposed them to. “Go for no was truly empowering,” notes Gregg. “Essentially, if a new piece of business isn’t going to be profitable, we are happy to walk away. One of our existing accounts was purchased by another company that announced a new bidding process and requested an immediate 10 percent discount. We’ve learned how to negotiate and retained all of the business without the discount. Occasionally, we even get more.”
Meyers’ executives agree that the company has undergone a cultural change, which took about two years. “When adult learning is involved, you need repetition,” Gregg observes. SGS’ principles and processes gave us a common language as well that is part of the backbone of our new culture. You have to be committed and patient.
Gregg nods enthusiastically as Fred sums up how Meyers feels about SGS. “We view Danita as an executive on our team, who contributes and challenges us in a very positive way. She works with the leadership and also our people. Her experience is definitely a valuable asset. We hope she’ll always have time for us.”