Written on tablets of corn, wheat, beans, rice and cotton, and delivered by a peripatetic sojourner dressed in jeans and wearing a cap with an indistinguishable equipment machinery logo and with dairy cows in tow, the following Commandments were unexpectedly received with gratitude. These Commandments should be followed by each and every salesperson, whether a neophyte or a seasoned veteran, interested in increasing their revenue and concomitant gross margin while hopefully pocketing more personal income. These essential Sales Commandments are as follows.

1. Thou shalt approach every day and every customer positively and with enthusiasm. Thou shalt never denigrate the competition or speak ill of one’s employer, including, one’s own parts and service department. Thou shalt carry the “Message to Garcia” like Lieutenant Rowan did at the behest of President McKinley.

2. Thou shalt focus on developing a call schedule rather than completing a call report. Thou may use call reports as a follow-up knowing they are nevertheless an after-the-fact device. Rather than focusing on “what has been,” thou shalt emphasize “what will be,” and that in turn will necessitate the development and implementation of a daily, weekly, monthly and annual call schedule.

3. Thou shalt never make a sales call without a specific objective. In addition to a call schedule, thou shalt never make a call without having a “planned” reason for making that call. Thou shalt know that all sales calls are not always about selling a new piece of equipment and that there are a myriad of other reasons for making a call.

4. Thou shalt make at least 25 calls per week on average throughout the year. Thou shalt also stratify customers as to volume purchased or gross margin generated with “top purchasers” receiving significantly more contact than those who purchased less. Thou shalt also have a plan to call on competitive customers at least 5 times in a given year.

5. Thou shalt develop comprehensive profiles on at least the top 35% of the customers/prospects in one’s territory. Thou must understand that comprehensive profiles are an important weapon in any successful salesperson’s arsenal. Consequently, thou shalt know and record all relevant business information pertaining to the customer’s business, all relevant information pertaining to their machinery and all personal data relating to applicable family members.

6. Thou shalt identify and categorize the 30 most common objections and develop a cogent, and rehearsed, rebuttal for each. Thou shalt spend one’s free time analyzing what has worked and what has not worked and thou shalt always anticipate another’s objection and be prepared with a succinct and carefully prepared response.

7. Thou shalt ask for the sale at least 3 times. Thou shalt know that few sales are made without asking for the sale and that most sales require the salesperson to ask for the sale at least 3 times. If thou lack the wherewithal to ask for the sale, then thou should seek another profession.

8. Thou shalt review every lost sale to honestly and objectively analyze the outcome. Thou must know that all sales are not lost because of price and that an objective analysis of a lost sale may reveal some important lessons that could be helpful in minimizing future lost sales.

9. Thou shalt spend more time on the follow-up than on the presentation. Thou shalt respond within 24 hours to all requests: be they for an appointment, a quote or a date for a demonstration. Thou shalt always be present when a machine is delivered to answer questions and to reassure the purchaser of the fantastic decision that he made in purchasing the machine from you and the dealership. Finally, thou shalt contact the purchaser within 7 days of the machine being delivered to ascertain the purchaser’s level of satisfaction and to once again reaffirm your commitment to post-purchase follow-up. Remember, thou shalt do unto customers as you would have customers do unto you.

10. Thou shalt spend twice as much time on selling one’s own trade-ins as was spent on selling one’s new unit. Thou must understand that anyone can give away a new piece of equipment, but it is the buying and selling of the used equipment that separates the “wheat from the chaff.” Thou must understand that in the capital goods industry, little or no cash is retained when a trade-in is involved and that successful dealerships are fueled by positive cashflow rather than paper profits.

The business of selling is not like solving for Riemann’s Hypothesis but rather about using tried and true principles that have been proven over time. Focus, discipline and the ability to hear the word “no” together with the above Commandments will improve the performance of virtually every salesperson in the galaxy.