When General Motors drove into financial trouble people had several choice words for the company including dumb. After much to do, GM has climbed out of bankruptcy; posted an annual profit, and paid back a significant amount of money it owes the government.  The company is hiring again and facilitated a successful initial public offering.  Another sign of General Motors resurgence is that it will advertise during this week’s Super Bowl telecast for the first time since 2008.  How did they do it? They worked smarter, and changed their business model. For years, GM dominated the auto industry by building a car for every stage of a driver’s life. However, increased competition, an antiquated business model, and a slumping economy all contributed to their demise. Now GM has trimmed the fat, discontinuing Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, and other underperforming brands.  GM now concentrates their efforts on profitable brands and target markets such as China where they can get the best return on their investment.  In 2010 GM sold more cars in China than in the United States.

This is something that we as salespersons can put into practice. No matter what product or service we are selling we are part of an industry. Each industry has several customers, some profitable, while others are not so lucrative. One reason that sales representatives are loved is because we are nice people that try to please everyone. We also put strong emphasis on building relationships. The selling model where we call on everyone, service everyone, and everyone will love us has passed. Maybe we should take a page out of GM’s book and not spend so much time on warm and friendly sales calls that offer little return on investment. Generally, the customers that are the most difficult to see and sometimes to work with, have the most value. Making these sales calls takes more effort but provide a greater return. This translates into increased revenue for our company and more winnings for you. The highest performing sales representatives work with a laser guided focus on MVCs, our most valued customers. By streamlining your efforts you may work less hours, and have time to coach your children’s sports team, just before that free trip to Hawaii!

Dion Harding is a sales trainer and motivational speaker. See more at