This month’s Featured Company Q&A is with Barry Brown, CEO, for PANNAR SEED INC, who shares with us his focus for the coming year and strategies for sales success.
What do you enjoy most about working for Pannar Seed USA?
I enjoy the challenge of helping build a company based on solid fundamentals and focused on adding value to our customers.
What unique quality separates Pannar from your competitors?
We are a 50 year old company that is still operated on the principle of being a world-class supplier of quality seed. Being independently owned allows us to manage for the long term and what is in the best interests of our owners and customers.
We are all coming off of a challenging year, how has Pannar handled it?
We are having our best year in the past 3 years. While you always want to accomplish more, we are growing our business significantly this year. We have invested in our people and focused on a few things that have the biggest return.
What would you like salesjournal.com readers to know about Pannar?
While we are a small company in the U.S., we invest in our people and are committed to being the supplier of choice to the growers in our market footprint.
What specific goals, including those related to your specific position within the company, have you established for 2010?
- Achieve sales targets
- Attract and retain quality employees
- Re-evaluate our key marketplace messages, tactics, and channel strategy
What creative strategies have you used to encourage/influence your sales team?
A lot of what we do is basic “blocking & tackling,” i.e. training our sales people, setting aggressive sales targets, encourage customer/prospect.
What is your favorite methodology in sales training and/or business enhancement?
I am a firm believer that if you have the right people, quality products, and they are well trained, then it is a matter of getting enough time with customers and prospects.
Are there any books, sales related or leadership related, that you use as a guide and/or would recommend?
I like the author Stephen Covey; “The Five Temptations of a CEO” by Patrick Lencioni and “Profitable Growth” by Ram Charan.
Do you have a mentor that you contribute your leadership success to? Do you feel it is important to have a mentor?
I was fortunate to have two very good supervisors early in my career. Mentors are very important. I learned a lot by watching how they organized meetings, motivated people, and had “the meeting before the meeting.”
What sales advice do you have to offer our readers?
Focus, Connect, Ask for the business. I have found that in sales it is easy to get caught up in things that don’t drive sales. It is important to connect or as a successful senior sales guy told me when I started, “You gotta be where the people be”. I also believe many orders are not closed simply because sales people don’t ask for the business.
When you hire, how do candidates stand out in order to be selected to help with the growth of the company? What characteristics do you look for in a sales professional?
We have an industry with a lot of specific knowledge that is needed. Being a smaller company, we focus on those sales candidates that have a proven sales record. Additionally, we look at character, work ethic, interpersonal communications and cultural fit with Pannar.
Do you feel a sales professional must have experience in the industry they are selling in order to be successful?
Our industry requires a lot of specific knowledge to be successful. Larger companies can hire someone with the right characteristics and teach them the industry specific knowledge over 1-3 years. As a small company, we do not have that luxury, so we hire only those who have a proven sales track record of success combined with the other attributes we are looking for.
If an individual or the team as a whole is not meeting goals, what is your approach to nurture this?
We evaluate and ask questions: Are we trained for the job at hand? Are we getting in front of the right people? Do we have products that are performing well? Is market awareness an issue? Are we competitively priced in the market? Then we talk as a group or individual on what we need to do to get things ramped up or going in the right direction.
How much time do you need to know if a new sales hire will “make it”? What are some indicators/behaviors?
Usually less than 6 months. Indicators I look for: Are they in their office when I call or out seeing customers? When I ask how things are going; do they have a lot to talk about that is meaningful? Can they tell me what our competitors are doing?