Selling on a Napkin


By Phil Harwood

Some of the most amazing ideas started on a napkin. Business deals are often first sketched out on a napkin. Huge sales have been made on a napkin. In today’s virtual world, a napkin may not be readily available but the concept still applies. Give me two minutes of your time and I’ll explain. 

Want to have this blog in podcast form?  Check it out here.

You’ve probably heard about the 80-20 rule. If you haven’t, the concept is simple. It’s explained in different ways but here’s how I think of it: 80% of the value of something is found in 20% of the effort. For example, if something will take you 10 hours to make it perfect, the first two hours will get you 80% of the way completed and the remaining 20% will take you eight hours. 

Another example of the 80-20 rule is with sales. In general, across all industries, 20% of salespeople close 80% of all sales, while the remaining 80% of all salespeople only close 20% of all sales. Obviously, the high-producing salespeople have a different approach than their low-producing peers. 

So, where does the napkin fit into this discussion? Great question. 

There’s only so much space on a napkin. There’s only space for the most fundamental idea - the one that will get you 80% of the way to your objective. In a sales situation, if you can’t crystalize your sales pitch down to what will fit on a napkin, you’re not prepared. There is a fundamental message that you need to communicate - that will close the sale - and you haven’t discovered it yet. That’s what goes on the napkin.  

The reality is that most salespeople haven’t received much high-quality sales training. Most salespeople are order takers. They may be good at responding to leads that someone else generated but if they had to generate sales on their own efforts they wouldn’t know where to start. If they are missing their goals, they blame it on pricing or whatever else they can to deflect, whereas the top 20% take ownership of their sales goals. The difference is remarkable.

We are hosting what I believe to be the most powerful two-day sales training event in the industry next week in Milwaukee at the Western Plows facility - a world-class manufacturing facility owned by Douglas Dynamics. We call this event Forum for Sales. Some of you are registered to attend.

For those of you who are not able to make it to Milwaukee, the good news is that we are holding a second Forum for Sales event July 26-27. This two-day  sales training event is being held in Rockland, Maine at the Fisher Engineering facility, another world-class manufacturing facility owned by Douglas Dynamics. If you’ve never been to Maine in the summer, you will love it, and don’t miss the LL Bean world headquarters and factory store on the drive up. 

There are several people who will benefit from attending Forum for Sales: business owners, sales managers, and, of course, anyone involved in sales. This could also be a reward for a top-producing salesperson, as a way to show appreciation and continued investment in them. 

If you have any questions about Forum for Sales, please feel free to contact me: 

Tags: Sales , Selling , Business Ideas ,