People

Star Sales Techniques From A Pro

Lexi Tucker
Posted on April 28, 2019

Nina Parson, director of sales for Company Car & Limousine in Cleveland, Ohio spends a great deal of her time out of the office at networking events to meet as many new prospects as she possibly can.

Nina Parson, director of sales for Company Car & Limousine in Cleveland, Ohio spends a great deal of her time out of the office at networking events to meet as many new prospects as she possibly can.

[Editor's Note: This piece includes additional interviewing by Bill Faeth]

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Nina Parson has found the best way to win over more clients is to talk to people you are not trying to sell to.

The director of sales for Company Car and Limousine in Cleveland has increased her sales a stunning 733% since starting in June 2018. At a previous operation, she took sales from $1.5 million to $12 million annually.

Parson began her career in the hospitality business and then moved on to a small, family owned luxury transportation company that has since been sold to Company Car. She recently shared with LCT some of the techniques and advice that in January got her called out as “one of the best salespeople in the industry” at Bill Faeth’s LABLive educational conference in Nashville.

Find Your Niche And Grow

Sales stars aren’t made overnight; methods must be put into practice and connections built. Parson had high sales numbers when she worked in the hospitality industry, and was able to maintain those relationships with former clients when she moved into luxury transportation. She attended LCT events, which helped her grow her affiliate work, but her real start came with trying to obtain contracts with schools.

At the time, A Touch of Class, the company she worked for, had one coach, which prompted responses like, “You have one motorcoach…how are you going to move everyone at this school?”

Yet, she still won their business. How? Persistence, along with some referrals. “I said, ‘If you let us handle the work and take a leap of faith in us, we’ll make sure we have the vehicles to make this work for you.’ And they did. The school had never used us before — all they took it on was based upon a relationship I had built from just doing my job as a salesperson.”

You shouldn’t just be visiting your existing clients. You need to get your image, brand, and name out there through networking groups and events.

You shouldn’t just be visiting your existing clients. You need to get your image, brand, and name out there through networking groups and events.

After her former boss, Frank Pistone, died, Parson delved into detailed records of clients and spent much time looking into who was and wasn’t still using their services. She called prospects and created email campaigns where she asked about what former clients liked and didn’t like about their service. She also felt a shift to buses would help the company create a niche others couldn’t compete with.

“You can’t just think you are the preferred vendor. Just because you are serving them in one capacity doesn’t mean you’re getting all the work there is to be had.”

Starting Techniques

To become a star salesperson, you cannot sit behind a desk. “The first thing you need to do is find out what you’re doing right with your current clients, and ask if they’d refer you to just one person,” she explains. “Also, find out what went wrong with those who aren’t using you anymore so you can fix it.”

You shouldn’t just be visiting your existing clients. You need to get your image, brand, and name out there through networking groups and events. “We live in a highly social world — it’s all about who knows who and who knows what. That’s why sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp are so popular; people want to hear from other’s real life experiences, so be the person and/or company they are talking about.”

Don’t underestimate the power of being active on social media, and try to reach out to local schools of all grade levels. www.fbo.gov is the web address to hit for government contracts. The best part is they aren’t chintzy on price, but be prepared to answer a vast amount of questions to win the business.

An attentive salesperson will educate listeners. “Everyone in our industry can talk about their vehicles. When people ask distinctly, ‘What makes you different?’ You need to tell them. I think if anybody on your team doesn’t know your story as a company, they need to learn and use it as part of their sales.”

People often don’t know there’s a service aspect besides getting in a car and being dropped off at a destination, Parson says. For those you’re booking a lot of business for, price isn’t their number one worry. You need to find out what their number two, three, and four concerns are instead of going straight to price. That approach just lumps you in with everyone else. Every current and potential client differs. You have to create a profile for each. Devise different points you’ll talk about with them.

Finally, no matter how small or busy you are, you need to find at least 30 minutes to an hour a day to focus on sales.

How NOT To Be A Sales Star

You need to find out what their number two, three, and four concerns are instead of going straight to price.

You need to find out what their number two, three, and four concerns are instead of going straight to price.

Here are some things to stay away from if you don’t want to be known as “that annoying salesperson”:

  • Don’t be pitchy — No one likes a telemarketer, so don’t act like one.
  • Don’t go in blind — Understand who you are selling to. Do your research. It’s easy in this day and age with LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
  • Don’t conduct sales calls just to meet a quota — Even if you only get one done, get it done perfectly. Just because you made 10 doesn’t mean they were good or productive.

A Day In The Life Of A Sales Star

The first step Parson takes is LinkedIn. She searches for topics people are liking or talking about, and looks to see if people she knows have made any new connections. She also reads Crain’s Business Journal for Cleveland and Akron to see what’s up and coming in the business world in her market. She also checks out plenty of local Facebook groups for weddings and meetings and event planning. From these sources, she gathers a new list of potential clients to pursue.

“My flat list at this point has close to 300 people on it, and I add every day. If I sell somebody, they’re off my flat list. They go to the hot list. I’m constantly adding to the point where I may never ‘finish’ going through the list. But that’s what you always have to be doing.”

She keeps five notebooks on her desk with fresh prospects, and when she’s contacted them, moves them to a spreadsheet in Excel. On average, she adds 20 to 30 new contacts a day. Of these, 10 are people she’s formed some connection with and the other 20 are new. She attends one networking event a day, but can go to up to three depending on what’s happening that day. She has a 40% closing rate.

A Few More Notables

You can’t be intimidated by the word “sales,” Parson says. “Too often, people think ‘I don’t know how to do that,’ or ‘I’m shy,’ or ‘I don’t know how to contact the right people.’” Anyone can be themselves. That, along with a genuine desire to get to know the other person and help them, is what selling is all about.

“Never be afraid to take a top chauffeur with you on sales calls. They often have knowledge you don’t and can help you answer your prospect’s questions.”

When you feel comfortable and have plenty of connections with people inside and outside of your industry, you may want to take the initiative like Parson did and set up your own networking events. She and a few other professionals started one for women. They used social media to get the word out and sold out both events they’ve hosted so far.

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Related Topics: Ohio operators, Sales & Marketing, salesperson, staff training

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 3 )
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  • Alex

     | about 7 months ago

    12 million in sales and the company went out of business. Limo business is tough

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