PSS National Sales Meeting Be Like Sugar Ray Focus, Sell Solutions, Dominate

Edition: December 2002 - Vol 10 Number 12
Article#: 1393
Author: Repertoire

CHICAGO--Even sales reps can be like Sugar Ray. In fact, PSS expects them to be. Acclaimed boxer Sugar Ray Leonard kicked off PSS’s recent national sales meeting to thunderous cheers. Still looking like the fit and trim boxer who dominated the Olympics and won the hearts of people all over the world, Leonard told his story of how he came to dominate the sport of boxing. The meeting was held in conjunction with the HIDA Trade Show.

“My success is all about focus; having tunnel vision,” he said. “My father always told me focus was the key. Total focus was what could make the average different, better, great. That was my always my mindset, and it is today.”

Leonard was a fitting keynote speaker for the meeting, whose theme was “Dominate Through Solutions.” In his introduction to Leonard, PSS President Gary Corless stressed that Leonard’s dominance in the ring was a first class act – one recognized as much for the boxer’s dedication to hard work and his engaging and inclusive personality, as it was to his success.

“Dominate” will be a word that PSS employees and business partners will soon understand intimately, said Corless. “Why should we invest this kind of time and effort into our business if we aren’t out to do something extraordinary,” he asked the group of manufacturers, PSS Round Table members, and corporate staff attending the PSS CEO dinner preceding the meeting. And, like Leonard, Corless expects PSS to dominate with class.

Commitment to Solutions Selling

“Think of the hometown Bulls here in Chicago, the 49ers and other sports dynasties that truly dominated,” said Corless. “They weren’t out to do it for just one year. It was a commitment that took place over a number of years. That is the commitment we are making as a company. It’s a team commitment to be excellent, and a commitment to play by the rules, much like many of sports’ greatest dynasties.”

And according to Corless, the easiest way to dominate is through a solutions-based approach. “Our customers have problems, and we have the solutions,” he said.

“We have to solve customer problems better than anyone else, and the way we will do that is through service.” Noting the 65 distribution points, including their 46 sales offices, Corless said PSS is well positioned to offer “extraordinary service” to customers and potential customers. To bolster its efforts, PSS is investing in a training program centered on solutions selling that will be launched in early 2003.

Play to Win

PSS CEO Dave Smith was energized as he shared an overview of the company’s performance over the past 12 months. “Things are going well,” he said. “We hit every one of our business objectives, generated $180 million in cash, paid off all of our debt, and invested $73 million in new systems that will be rolled out over the next 24 to 36 months. In addition, we’re sitting on $73 million in cash, and have bought back 5 percent of our stock. And that is a number I would love to move to 10 to 15 percent.”

All of these accomplishments have called for change, said Smith. “Many of you know Gary Corless very well. His roots are with PSS. At Gulf South, under his leadership in a dismal market, he brought that business back to profitability and growth. I’m glad to have him back at PSS because we have a lot in common. We both play to win….And that philosophy is going to be a very important part of the PSS culture as we move forward.”

“We’re poised to regain our dominant position,” said Smith. “We have 700 incredible sales professionals, a dynamic leadership group, lots of cash in the bank, and we’re investing heavily into our business. My feeling is this is going to be a fun ride.”

Sugar Ray

According to Leonard, fear was a driver in his professional career. “Sure, there was the fear of getting hit. There was also the fear of getting hurt. Well I’ve looked into the eyes of Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. I’ve been hit – very, very, hard – by Tommy ‘Hitman’ Hearns. But none of that compared with the fear of losing though. I hate to lose.”

“You might be sitting out there asking, ‘What does that have to do with me? I’m not a boxer. I don’t have to climb into the ring.’ But you do. You climb into the ring everyday. When you get out of bed, put on your clothes and go to work, you’re trying to beat your competitors. And there are a lot of obstacles in your way.

“Well, think about how many of those obstacles could be overcome if you had the mindset of a boxer. If you were totally focused. And though this type of dedication might be painful, the alternative – failure – would be far harder to handle.”