The Eve of the Year-End Sales War

I am sure that you are now spending earnest days making inspections, stocking up, and planning strategies in preparation for the coming 2003 year-end sales war. In particular, this year's sales war has special meaning, because it marks the final fiscal year of the three-year plan begun in 2001. Here I would like to offer some checkpoints of my own. I hope that they are of some help to you.

First, do you have top management?
What is the difference in the situation at the start in 2001 and now? Is everything going according to plan, or . . . ? Come to think of it, products, brands, and distribution have really changed dramatically over these two and a half years. And this trend is going to continue from now on, too, so the quality of top management is unbelievably important.

I think that the present is an age of top management like never before. The top must be steadfast. The top must show direction, make judgments, and hand down decisions. A setup built by the top will function in terms of sales, costs, expenses, and profits. If it does not work, then you have failure.

Let me give one example. How are your sales promotion costs, such as handbills? If you have computer-to-plate printing, you can cut down on costs. Are you leaving this work to outside companies? In the case of companies with which you have a long relationship, inertia can set in, which in many cases leads to higher costs. In times of change, the top must be firm with those in the field.

Second, create best players.
In the end, it is people who matter. If you have a group of best players, then you have the perfect team. However, getting the best players together from now is not going to be easy. So turning the human resources that you now have into best players -- and doing so in a short time -- is important.

The main point here is the establishment of a system to evaluate results fairly. In order to rank alongside the national chain stores, you absolutely must have higher added-value sales and proposal-type sales methods. And if you are going to build these sales methods, then you have to have an evaluation system. There is nothing wrong even with salaries rising or falling every quarter. Best players who steadily sell products plus added value are surely entitled to receive a corresponding income.

When such a system takes root, then I think that best players will emerge. A system that bubbles up from beneath will enhance the motivation of the whole. The most important point is winning and winning streaks.

Third, take the lead with timely products and proposal-type goods.
Strong stores are those that are well stocked in new products and proposal-type goods. Accordingly, the degree of product knowledge is directly connected to the degree of customer satisfaction. Stores that have an endless supply of timely products are enormously attractive for customers.

Fourth, check the achievement of your goals on a daily basis.
It is important to be strict about goals and to check whether you are achieving goals on a daily basis. Just saying "yes" when told to do your best every day is not enough. Check your goals, and if there is a problem, take action quickly so that your results improve.

Fifth, motivation will only improve through winning.
Winning gives you self-confidence and enhances yourself. At any rate, winning streaks are the only motivation.

I wish you all the best of luck!