Roy Chitwood Article By Art Popham    

Since 1976, Roy Chitwood has been training people to sell. But, Chitwood says, many of the techniques that were taught 23 years ago no longer apply to today's business world. In fact, those methods would make you a sales dinosaur headed for extinction.

"The majority of people selling today can be replaced by telemarketers, Web sites and faxes," said Chitwood, president of sales training firm Max Sacks International in Seattle. "The old rule of calling on customers and providing product information and pricing and availability can now all be done by computers. Staffs of sales people are being eliminated. Now, sales people need to be true professionals in their fields who bring added value to their customers by being fully versed in the customer's company and the customer's customers' companies.

Selling must be a partnership." Partnership selling is one of Chitwood's buzz words. He'll teach his techniques at a Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce business breakfast Tuesday at La Quinta Inn and in a daylong seminar at the Sheraton Tacoma Hotel on April 7 (for information, call 253-627-2175). As an example of partnership selling, he says Coca-Cola sees its role not as simply selling more and more Coke, but as devising marketing programs that will increase its customers' sales of other products, as well as Coke. Coke becomes a partner in its customers' overall success. Partnership selling is more than the common idea of consultant selling, in which the sales person tries to understand the customer's needs and offer solutions. It brings added value to the transaction beyond the simple acquisition of a product or service.

So, what's added value? "It's more than quality product, good service and low price," Chitwood says. "Added value benefits the customer in ways that go beyond your own product or service and sets you apart from your rivals." Chitwood knows of a Southern California specialty advertising sales person who developed a safety incentive program for a customer. Employees received rewards for safe practices. Reduced claims saved that company $8 million in workers compensation premiums in one year. Using this partnership selling that goes beyond just taking orders, that person sold $1.6 million of promotional products that year. His customers did even better. Chitwood knows of a company that makes shop towels, which are basically industrial rags. This company shows its distributors a list of 47 points of added value it offers, such as sales assistance and product training.

"If they could find 47 points of added value for rags, think what you could find if you're selling a $100,000 software package," Chitwood said. To adopt an attitude of partnership, Chitwood says sales people must stop thinking of their product or service as a commodity to be sold. In fact, stop focusing on selling. Think about the broadest possible ways in which you can assist your customers to succeed. He carries this to lengths perhaps never seen in the world of sales.

"In the future, I believe sales people will be compensated based on the success of their customers, not products sold," he said. Obviously, the idea is that as your customers prosper, so will you. But I've spent a fair amount of time in sales, and I've never heard a single boss of mine genuinely put the customer's overall success ahead of my getting a signature on the bottom line of a contract. Of course, I haven't worked directly in sales for some time, so my ideas probably seem prehistoric now. Art Popham The Tacoma News Tribune      

Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.