From young age, when I started to understand what my parents were talking about, I was being taught about sales.

My parents had a shoe-repair shop in Amsterdam (connected to our house) and they both worked in it. During dinner the day was evaluated, clients were discussed, complaints, funny events, the economics of the company. Everything.

And if you hear this every evening, 15 years at a stretch, you are having a lot of input. What works and what doesn’t. What is essential and what is irrelevant.

My parents were very successful. They had a thriving business. Saved a lot of money for their retirement. While just having one shop. How did they do this?

  1. At dinner, or early in the morning, or late at night, (so before and after the regular opening times of 09.00 to 18.00) customers rang the front door bell and asked if they could have their repaired shoes. My mother, no matter if she was cooking, having dinner, or sleeping: she always opened the door with a smile and she always tried to sell something more (now you call that up-sell, cross-sell:-))). Even when she was changing my diapers: she got so many clients in the shop she forgot about me and….wow…I made a mess of my room:-)))).  First relevant sales lesson: always show up! Not only from 9 to 6, but always.
  2. From time to time shoes got lost. And people came back to complain about the quality (usually the same clients complained). If they had the bad luck of facing my father they didn’t get a nice treatment. He didn’t like complaining clients. Therefor my mother usually took care of the ‘front-office’, the counter. When shoes were lost, even if the shoes had never been given to them for repair (the client just was convinced of it) and every complaint, how silly and how unjustified the complaint was…my mother always gave awesome service: first she listened to the entire story of the client with a friendly face, very patient. She repeated the issue in her own words and suggested an awesome solution. The clients always got more than they expected to get. It certainly costed money. It certainly costed stress and the feeling of being used and exploited. But the result was a great healthy business with only happy, loyal clients. Willing to pay more than what the competition was charging. Second relevant sales lesson: don’t question complaining clients. Give them an awesome treatment: the way you would like to be treated…(and get the right person to do the job)
  3. My parents had a standard delivery time. Today received meant 3 business days later ready for collection (this was faster than the competition having 5 days). This caused, in busy times, a lot of stress. It happened that there was so much work, or if staff got sick, that my father worked during the night. Sometimes, when I went to school he was still working. He had been up all night, and the day before of course, and the coming day he couldn’t go to sleep either. But not keeping his delivery promise was not an option for him and my mother. Third relevant sales lesson: keep your promises and do whatever you can to deliver your promises. 
  4. Always clients have been complaining about the price. Always tried to get discounts. Always told my parents that the competition was cheaper. And better. And whatever they thought to be a great argument to get a discount. But my parents were pretty confident about their quality. They were the fastest and the best. They were pretty confident about their service. They were unrivaled. And they were prepared to lose those clients who were only looking for a bargain, who were only complaining. They encouraged those clients to go to the competition. Fourth relevant sales lesson: chose your clients carefully and don’t work with bargain naggers. 
  5. My parents had a target group. Everybody who was wearing shoes and took care of them and in their neighborhood. They knew exactly the boundary of their neighborhood; how far clients wanted to walk or bike to their shop. And my father regularly, each month, distributed flyers to all the houses. Those were many thousands. The flyers mentioned new products, discounts etc. He never skipped a month. He did not always saw the direct result. But he had a successful business with a loyal and growing client base. Fifth relevant sales lesson: have a constantly growing prospect list and contact all your prospects with great information on a regular base and don’t overlook even 1 prospect

Sales in recruitment is easy for those who want to be really successful:

  • Have a prospect list of at least 400 and growing companies
  • From these 400 companies identify 40 which you want to make your client in the coming 12 months
  • Contact all 400 at least twice a month with great information, invitations, added value….
  • Have a total focus on the 40 chosen and get them to know better than they know themselves, meet them, lunch them, dinner them, help them, support them…
  • Always show-up
  • Always keep your promises

Gerard Koolen

Group Managing Partner, +31622959248

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