I've Never Met a Rich Sharecropper

March 14, 2001

Sharecroppers are poor tenant farmers. They farm the land for the owner in exchange for a share of or percentage of the crops they produce for the owner. They do what they are told and have no land to farm themselves.

No matter how hard they work, they usually are poor.

Sharecroppers are poor tenant farmers. They farm the land for the owner in exchange for a share of or percentage of the crops they produce for the owner. They do what they are told and have no land to farm themselves.

No matter how hard they work, they usually are poor. Isn’t it an interesting thing that the least successful salespeople in our industry see themselves as sharecroppers but the most successful see themselves as farmers.

The Sharecropper Mentality

A sales sharecropper is one who waits for leads to call or to be assigned and then works the leads for a share of the sale. They do not generate business–they harvest what comes by on it’s own. The sad thing is that many salespeople in our industry stay at this level. Most companies in our field provide salespeople with enough leads that they average five demos per week. This is not enough to earn the big money. Some salespeople wait for more leads and complain about slow business. These are the sharecroppers. Some go out and farm the fertile soil of the fruited plain. They are the big earners.

The Farmer Mentality

The farmer in sales constantly is farming the population. Planting seeds here, watering there, creating leads from seeds. The farmer mentality never is satisfied with the leads given by the company. They grow their own.

Just How Hard Am I Supposed to Work?

Here are some statistics that show us how hard people work to become a success. I believe that an average salesperson in our industry should be making between $50,000 and $150,000 per year. Just how hard do you have to work to make that much? Let’s say you average three demonstrations per day and close 33 percet (the national average). That would work out to a total of approximately 900 demos per year, 300 sales and an income of between $60,000 and $100,000. I have never met a person who couldn’t sell water equipment if they memorized the demo. I have met many who did not do enough demos to be a success. Setting high goals for the number of demos you perform definitely is the key to success. It takes a lot of work to average three demos per day. No company is going to give you that many unless you dig them up yourself.

To keep hard work and high earnings in perspective, let’s look at the facts. The census recently published by the government shows that the median male head of household in the United States earns $30,753. I guess if we work as hard as an average person that’s what we can expect. The same census shows that only 2 percent of the population makes more than $75,000 per year and that most of them have more than one job. Education doesn’t help either. The University of Maine reports that professors of humanities with up to five years on the job earn only $47,325 per year. I am afraid that the only way to riches is long hours and hard work. If your goal is to make more than $75,000 this year, you will have to work harder and smarter than 98 percent of fellow Americans.

If you want to be counted in that extraordinary group of high earners, what can you do to find all those demos? Here are five top suggestions that will help.

1. Referrals–If you aren’t getting at least 30 percent of your business from referrals, it means you really don’t believe in your product. If you invented a cure for cancer or a way to get rich, wouldn’t you tell your friends and family about it? If you told them, would you feel you were being pushy? If you really are sold, get in the habit of asking for and getting referrals from customers and people in related industries. It takes practice, but it should add about $30,000 per year to your income. Isn’t that worth trying a few things and practicing new techniques?

2. Double or Triple Your Chances–This is the world’s simplest income increasing technique, but so few salespeople use it. Every time you go to a home, whether you get the sale, get thrown out or they aren’t home, before you drive off, go to two, three or four neighbors and knock on the door. Ask to test their water or pick up a water sample. If you currently average one demo per day, this simple technique will double your income.

3. Hit a Commercial Account Every Day–If your company sells or rents POU coolers, stop at one business everyday on your way to work and demonstrate the benefits of a POU cooler over bottled water. This will add about 300 demos to your total for the year and will take less than 30 minutes. You also can combine this suggestion with suggestion #2 and call on neighbors of the company while you are there. If you did three demos per day to companies, you would be adding as much as 100 percent to your income and only adding about 1 hour per day to your work load.

4. Rely on Neighbors–For less than $250, you can purchase a CDRom with the name, address and phone number of everyone in the United States. It is called Phone disk and is available from most software retailers. If you have trouble finding it, call me at 800-941-0068 and I will tell you where to get a copy. The beauty of this program is that you can look up by address. That means that whenever you get a sale, you can ask the disc for the addresses of the 10 or 15 nearest neighbors, and call them up to test their water.

5. Hire a Senior–Invest in your future. We suggest you hire a retired person to knock on doors and pick up water samples. Teach them to say something such as, "As a service to home owners in the area, we are picking up water samples to run through a few tests and let you know everything is OK." An average person can pick up six to eight bottles per hour. Most salespeople tell us they average one appointment in 10 follow up calls after they test the water. We suggest you pay your "bottler" $2.00 per bottle. That means they earn about $12 per hour and it costs you about $20 for each demonstration appointment you get from the program. If you have someone pick up 20 bottles per day for you, you should get into two homes per night. Why should you bother? Shouldn’t the company do this for you? I guess it depends on whether you are a sharecropper or a farmer.

Look at the Results

Let’s assume that at the moment you get one appointment per day from your company. That’s about 300 appointments per year. You probably close about 100 times per year and earn about $30,000. Look at the difference the ideas we have discussed can make.You may not want to use every one of these techniques and they may not all work every day. Remember that this doesn’t take into account the effect of calling on neighboring homes every time you do a demo. If you went into one neighbor’s house half the time you did a demo, it would bring your daily demos up to nine, which is approximately 2,700 per year. Let’s say I am too optimistic and cut that number in half to 1,350 demos per year. At the national average closing rate, you would sell 450 systems and earn $90,000 to $125,000.

It’s too bad there is no easy way to success. The good news is you can make a lot of money in our industry. You can earn more than lawyers, professors and many other professions. However, you have to work hard to be in the top 2 percent of earners in America. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? You bet. You decide whether you are happy to be a sharecropper or want to get into farming your business this year.

About The Author: Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free

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