The PROFIT 500 on How to Sell More—Lots More

Proven revenue-generating strategies from the leaders of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies

Written by Deborah Aarts

The PROFIT 500 is all about revenue growth. The firms that make the ranking every year have cracked a code that countless others have struggled with: how to sell more. Some of their tactics are highly sophisticated; some are dead simple. All are proven to be effective. Here are some of our favourite strategies, courtesy of the leaders of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies:

Show your cred

“I spent many years as a sales rep on the phone, and I really take pride in motivating the staff with that experience. It’s an ‘in the trenches’ approach, not a giant fluffy hierarchy. They can get behind someone who has done it.’”
—Anthony Boyle, president & CEO, HR Downloads Inc. (No. 12)

Show the love

“When you have a sales challenge with a client, the key is to show the customer a lot of love and be prepared to make a significant investment to show your value.”
—Thomas Ligocki, president & CEO, Clevest Solutions Inc. (No. 112)

Don’t discount small sales

“We slog it out every day. We do 400 or 500 deals a year; they are all tough ones. But you have to manage both big wins and the small ones. Small $1,000 deals can turn into $100,000 deals quickly.”
—David Urquhart-Knopf, founder and CEO, Cue Digital Media Inc. (No. 21)

Make everyone a salesperson

“Even though there’s a dedicated team of sales and marketing professionals in the organization, in some respects, everybody wears a business development hat. For example, if someone on the business development team needs a technical architect to take the time to specifically respond to questions that need a tailored or custom response, that’s not a problem at all because our entire team in some respect or another are part of sales. So we end up with a culture in which the sales team receives tremendous support from top to bottom.”—Johann Starke, president and CEO, FCV Technologies Ltd. (No. 155)

Train your reps yourself

“We do our own sales training with green recruits. We have a program by which new salespeople have to spend three months off and on working on the floor, in the warehouse, etc., so they learn our entire business. This essentially models them after how we want our people to work. It’s worked.”
—Shawn Sicard, CEO, PiiComm Inc. (No. 162)

Stand out to your clients

“We screen clients as much as we screen our job candidates. We knock on the doors we want to. It’s difficult, because it’s a tough market. But it shows we’re different, showing up old-school in person with coffee versus sending a contract with terms via e-mail.”
—Sean Dawson, president, Bluelime Enterprises Inc. (No. 78)

Keep your reps motivated

“We’ve created a culture in our business to motivate our salespeople to want to be part of this organization and grow this business. We have certain meetings and we divulge and certain topics; we do question and answer periods. It helps people understand each other.”
—Gianpaul Callipo, co-founder and CEO, R&G/CPL Group (No. 249)

Get everyone thinking big

“We’re big on goal-setting. If we didn’t have goals we wouldn’t grow. So, we have revenue goals, and we sit down with every person on the sales team to break that down so they understand how they play a part and achieving the goals.”
—Jonathan Ward, president and CEO, Ward Technology Talent Inc. (No. 198)

Spring for the pros

“We hire professional salespeople, not industry people. Then we teach them our industry. We have in-house training program and we bring our road warriors together on a regular basis—four or five times a year. It is costly, but worth it; it’s much more expensive to have a salesperson go off-track.”
—Bill Graham, president and CEO, Rifco Inc. (No. 261)

Give your reps the tools they need

“We equip our salespeople with knowledge so they can educate our clients. We invest in their display materials—uniforms, brochures, iPads We give them a good branding background and professional support. They have a stable backing.”
—Eric Gilbert-Williams, founder and CEO, The Roof Hospital (No. 20)

“We invest in constant education for the sales team. The more they know the better they can pitch.”
—Chris Ambridge, president and CIO, Provisus Wealth Management Ltd. (No. 259)

Look to unconventional leads

“It’s helped us a lot to build relationships with suppliers. A lot of our suppliers are strong brands (including Keurig and Starbucks). Because we build strong relationships with them, they generate a lot of new leads for us. We usually get first dibs on warm leads, giving our sales team access to potential clients who are already looking for the products we offer.”
—Claudio David, president, Office Coffee Solutions Ltd. (No. 223)

Let your reps guide your direction

“We’re accountable to the sales staff. What they promise, we deliver.”
—Justin Bobier, president, Crystal Creek Homes Inc. (No. 113)

Create reasons for customers to talk to you

“We’re constantly giving our salespeople reasons to talk to customers. Sales, marketing, product development: we all have a role in sales. So, we like to make sure if something cool is happening, it gets into the hands of everyone so they can start those conversations with clients.”
—Christopher Thierry, president, Etelesolv Inc. (No. 231)

Offer great carrots

“We offer a strong incentive plan; it motivates our salespeople to sell. They get a base salary, but the targeting that they can achieve is very aggressive. They obviously want to get deals done.”
—Jason Tryfon, president and CEO, Vital Insights Inc. (No. 196)

Try the “no-bull” approach

“We have something we call a ‘bold attitude.’ It’s the way we converse with our clients. We don’t hold back what we need to tell them, and we don’t play politics. They like us because we’re transparent. We instill that in everyone we bring on board.”
—Kevin Gauci, managing director, Optimus SBR Inc. (No. 87)

Encourage a shiny, happy workplace

“It really helps to have an engaged, happy staff. When you pick up the phone and have a smile on your face, I think the customer knows it. And they sure know when you don’t.”
—Greg Burghardt, president and CEO, Arrow Engineering Inc. (No. 168)

Follow this simple rule

“We do what we say we’re going to do. It makes it very easy to sell your services if you leave a trail of goodwill behind you, rather than angry customers.”
—Jeff Jessamine, president and CEO, Sprague Group (No. 267)

Click here for the complete 2014 PROFIT 500

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