31 July 2018

Situation: The showroom had a rich history, yet was unprofitable for more than a decade. They represented 15 lines including fabric, furniture, lighting and floor coverings. There was no strategic plan in place for the sales people to be more accountable and the showroom profitable. Time was wasted with low producing clients, no sales training and unclear goals for each employee. I began working with Larsen Showrooms in 1991 as the Regional Sales Manager. It was a 13 state territory with 2 territory sales people, two inside sales people (one who was also showroom manager) and a part time expeditor and resource librarian.

Result: After year one the showroom became profitable for the first time in more than 10 years. We continued to grow sales resulting in a 150% growth in business, staying profitable while increasing staff by three.

Strategy: I had to quickly assessed what the larger problems that contributed in low sales performances were. I also wanted  my strategy  to grow sales without having to decrease expenditures including layoffs.

I have always believed you cannot cut your way to profitability.

I made sales people, for the first time, accountable for their results. I re-focused the administrative staff with clear direction, priorities and responsibilities all focused on increasing sales and big return of investment.  I continued to monitor everything from sales calls vs. sales while making sure all the employees were focused on doing high priority items and good time management resulting in growth of sales.

I also started a cross- training program at our weekly meetings.  The entire staff would have to research a different  line monthly and present it to the others which made our vendors cooperate, enthusiastic and more likely to support our sales efforts. The employees also felt invested in the selling process and, of course, better informed resulting in less phone time and higher sales volume.

After 1 year, we were profitable and I was able to hire 2 full time people to support the outside staff which freed up time sales people spent on follow up and customer service. They were able to focus on selling, not daily follow up.

We’re all so proud of the championship course you’re running. Keep it up because we’re all counting on you.

– Jack Lenor Larsen (Owner/Design Director Larsen & Associates)

Please think about authoring a “handbook” of suggestions for other Regional Sales Directors. Your ideas and changes you have made have created a very successful territory. I’d like to export those ideas to others to share your success.

– Phil Cooper ( President Larsen & Associates)

Having hired and worked with Deborah for her role of Mid West Regional Sales Director for Larsen, I cannot say enough about her good qualifications, and great success in this position. Because she so well understood the product, sales, marketing and the dynamics of managing both staff and clientele, she was able to turn around an ailing organization, and make it a profitable one. She did this with hard work and humor, two essential elements of success in sales.

– Ellie Karanauskas (former VP of Sales – Larsen & Associates/current Regional Director Pollack & Associates)

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