Frequently Asked Questions

How to Increase Sales: The Northwest Method

How does Northwest customize its sales method for individual clients?

In order to device strategies on how to increase sales performance of any organization, sales performance of any organization, Northwest follows a proven process comprised of custom-made elements. First, we confer with management and establish goals for the engagement. Then, we spend several hours acquiring an understanding of the product line(s), market, customers, personnel, competitive landscape and what management feels are its product line’s competitive differentiators.

The method is then optimized for the client’s circumstances, and the accompanying training syllabus is written. It incorporates the specific information learned about your business and is also written to match the skill level of the sales team. In other words, if the sales staff are experienced professionals it will be written and presented differently than if the attendees are, for example, members of a customer service team that are now going to move to outside sales. In parallel with creating the written materials, several business development factual scenarios are created. These are constructed to reflect the client’s actual everyday market place reality. These scenarios are used to challenge the sales people and can be used for role plays, discussions of tactical and strategic options, call planning, etc.

Once the sales team is actually out in the field, we recommend conducting one or two follow up sessions where the team can share experiences, discuss what has worked and what hasn’t, and develop best practices that everyone can adopt.

How do you present your sales method?

Generally, presentation takes place at or near the client’s place of business and covers the better part of two days. We encourage the sales manager, if any, to attend. However, the presence of senior management typically has a chilling effect upon participation. We do not allow videotaping/audio recording because this also causes the attendees to clam up. The facilitation is presented in a highly interactive manner, and all students are expected to participate.

At the end of the facilitation, management will be debriefed. As part of the debriefing, we will provide an assessment of the attendees and our prediction for their future success. These observations have proven to be quite accurate in the past. We will also provide examples of how other companies have been successful keeping the positive inertia going and make some specific recommendations to help management in that regard.

How experienced in sales should the attendees be?

Because the method will be written to the level of the audience, attendees can be completely inexperienced. Nevertheless, they must be motivated to learn, possess reasonable communication skills, and have an adequate aptitude for sales growth and success. At the other end of the scale, the syllabus for professional salespeople can be highly functional yet quite challenging. Also, partial programs can be effective tools for an experienced team. For example, we can develop a half day program dealing with, e.g. cold calls, closing, objections, etc.

Generally, it isn’t productive to teach our sales method to a group larger than 7 – 8 people because it is impossible to provide sufficient individual instruction. Small groups of 2 or 3, or even one-on-one sales instruction are very effective.

How do I know if the person or people I have in mind to receive this training have an aptitude to succeed at outside sales?

To ensure we understand how to properly individualize the method for each attendee, we administer a simple but reliable psychological test that quantifies each attendee’s interpersonal style. This test has no “good” or “bad” results. What it does is reveal how individuals prefer to interact with others.

With this information we can provide sales coaching for each attendee so they can learn how to best utilize the sales method when dealing with a prospective customer/client. Also, the test can identify those instances where it is clear that the individual simply won’t be happy or productive in a given sales environment. For example, a true introvert can be very successful in a consultative sales setting but absolutely miserable if they are required to cold call door-to-door.

Will I have to act differently to succeed in sales?

No, we pride ourselves in creating solutions that allow attendees to succeed in sales while retaining their individual interpersonal style. If you are low key and maybe even introverted, you’ll learn how to sell in a “consultative” manner, where you explain and educate the prospect instead of “sell” them. If you are outgoing and fearless in social situations, you’ll learn how to harness this trait and leverage it effectively. Again, the only requirement is that you want to learn how to sell.

How long does the creation and training process take from beginning to end?

Approximately five weeks. Based upon over 20 years of experience, in the real world the initial fact finding process takes a week. It then takes three weeks to create the sales method. And, finally, two days to conduct the hands-on training. We prefer to debrief management immediately after the second day’s facilitation.

What type of companies are most suited for your methods?

If your company sells a service or product and has an annual revenue of less than approximately $10,000,000, it is at least theoretically a good match. Some of the products and services we’ve designed programs for include accounting/CPA services, heating and air conditioning, legal services, aircraft components, industrial supplies, wine corks, automotive components, construction materials, and janitorial services. Because our method relies upon a high degree of customization and individualized instruction, we are not equipped to work with large sales forces.

Do I get to keep the materials?

The method that is created for you is unique and specific to your business and sales personnel. It is yours to keep. It typically consists of a manual that describes your sales method in detail; exactly how it was presented to your sales team. Depending upon the nature of the business, size and experience of the attendees and a number of other more minor factors, the manual will range from 15 – 75 pages.

How much will it cost to engage Northwest’s services?

Because we have to decide whether an engagement is a win-win for both of us, the first consultation is free. Assuming we go forward, a typical engagement will run between approximately $4000 to $7000. “Typical” means your business grosses, say, $4 – $5,000,000, sells a reasonably mainstream product, and has a reasonably experienced and knowledgeable three person sales team. For “mini” programs where a single skill is taught, e.g. strategies to avoid cutting prices, they will generally run something like $750 to $1000. Craig’s personal consulting rate is $250/hr. Expenses are negotiated when an especially long drive and/or an overnight stay is indicated. In every instance a firm price is quoted before you formally commit to anything.

Do you provide ongoing support after the program has been created and presented?

Yes. At management’s option, we can provide a host of support options. Among the most popular choices are refresher sessions. These are generally provided every six months or so. We also work with individuals as needed to either upgrade their skills or, if they are lagging, help them “get it.”

If management doesn’t want to hire a full time sales manager, we can provide, e.g. facilitating monthly sales meetings to set goals, hold people accountable to their commitments, do mini-training sessions, etc. If you would like another filter in the hiring process, we have considerable experience in helping our clients hire sales people. We can also “train the trainer” if you wish to acquire the capability to train your sales people internally.

What is Craig’s Background?

After years of practicing law and then holding senior marketing, sales and executive positions in various companies, in 1996 Craig became a senior consultant for a large business consulting firm in Southern California. Besides assisting clients in the usual business issues related to planning, communication, staffing, holding people accountable, etc., he realized right from the beginning that most of his clients had relatively ineffectual sales efforts. This proved to be true with both sellers of services as well as product-related companies.

Having found his niche, Craig left the corporate world in 2004 and began focusing his sales consulting efforts upon business development. Since then he has worked with dozens of companies and hundreds of individuals to increase their sales productivity, drive revenue, improve margins and optimize business development methods and processes.