Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions      
  • How do I position my proposition for maximum effect?    - Contact us for details on 'The Art of Prospecting'.
  • How many sales calls should our people make in order to achieve target? - Contact us for details on 'The Art of Prospecting'.
  • What's a good conversion rate?  - Contact us for details on 'The Art of Prospecting'.
  • How do I compensate my staff to be successful ONLY when the company is successful? - Contact us for details of 'incentivising for success'.
  • How do I enter new export markets? - Call us for Otsourced sales assistance or market introductions.
  • I can't seem to get my invoices paid in a timely manner from Greece - what do I do?  - Call us for 'Building firm business foundations'.
  • Do I need and if so, how do I obtain a Letter of Credit? - Call us for 'Building firm business foundations'.
  • How do I overcome objections?  - Contact us for 'The Art of Negotiation' and/or an 'Overcoming Objections' workshop.
  • What are my selling propositions and how do I communicate them? - Contact us for details of our 'Seling Workshops'
  • Is cold calling an effective route to market?  - Contact us for details on 'The Art of Prospecting'.
  • How do I select / manage / ensure I derive value from a telemarketing company?  - Contact Us.
  • To add your questions, or better still to have them addressed - Give us a call or e-mail email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it .
  • Some of the many questions asked and a selection of the answers supplied, are copied below:


         Subject: Advice on Sales Bonus   21st September 2007 

We are currently negotiating a position of National Sales and Marketing Manager. One of the 'stickier' points is the structure of the bonus. So far agreement is on the split of 75%:25% Financial:Non-financial measures,also - Reaching 100% of target gives a bonus of 25% of the base pay.  I would like advice on your experiences of what has worked best, with particular attention to:Where to start the scale (for example if the target is to increase sales by 10%, then the bonus starts after 90% and reaches its maximum at 100%) How far is reasonable for the scale to continue after 100% of target. In other words, at what point is a reasonable cap? 110%, 120%, no cap?Please note that we are aware of the effect of the sales increases on the bottom line, we are just after general guidelines to structure the bonus.  Thanks,


Dear Tony, 

These are interesting questions, the like of which we get asked all the time at Aorta Sales. Please see  The overriding important point to bear in mind, is that AT ALL TIMES the individual's pay reward must exactly match what is good for the company. Nothing is worse than sales people being rewarded for results which have not in similar proportions but greater amounts helped the success and prosperity of the company. Keep this proposition in mind and many of the types of questions that you ask become much easier to answer.  

Looking at your specific questions, it is difficult to supply comprehensive advice without knowing more, but, some comments in principle: 

  • The rewards must match the effort expended by the sales person.
  • This means that if the target is to increase sales by 10% and the sales person has no influence on the existing business revenue (i.e. it is recurring revenue from previous deals and no ongoing 'account management' is required) then there is nothing wrong with ignoring the existing business completely and incenting the Sales & Marketing Manager on new business only - in effect giving a much larger bonus on the 10% only.
  • If existing account management, customer contact, stimulation and encouragement is required, then some reward can be given but perhaps at a lower rate than that paid for new business, to reflect the greater focus, effort and attention which the company is indicating it expects the individual to pay to gaining new business. Perhaps the ratio could be to halve the rate on additional business from client accounts, but increase (double perhaps) on new business. You would need to model and experiment, but again, it must evolve from what the company actually wants.
  • Also be careful with rewarding the non-financial measures, this is probably inevitable for a role involving a marketing element, but the important thing is to be sure to be only paying a bonus, or hitting targets when the company's sales targets (i.e. revenue coming in) have been met or exceeded.
  • With regard to commission capping, this is again a Frequently Asked Question and again the point to bear in mind is what exactly does the company want. If the company is in, say, manufacturing and 10% over target will exceed their production capacity, then it makes sense to cap the sales commissions, because sales brought in in excess of capacity will not be fulfilled and will not earn revenue for the company. If though, the 'more business the better' for the company, then why ever would you discourage sales?, in effect saying 'enough is enough guys' to your sales people. If the company can benefit from as much business as possible then the sales people should be rewarded by overachievement commissions and perhaps bonuses.  Hope this helps, would you mind if we placed this exchange into the FAQ section of our website (your personal details would be omitted). 
Many thanks.


Extract from 'Ask the Expert' on-line session       12th September 2007


EMIN News - Ask the Expert: John Bycroft, The Art of Prospecting and General Sales Enquiries

John Bycroft, Managing Director of Aorta Sales, answers your questions about prospecting and sales.

That's it for today!
Thank you to everyone for sending in their questions & many thanks to John for providing his expert advice.


11:25 - The final question comes from Nathanial Gardner:
"Prospects often tell me they don't see sales people. I'm told to just email/fax our prices and they will call back. I've never increased business by handing out a price list, all it does is reduce calls and contact with the decision maker.

I would wecome your suggestions on how to get the customer to listen rather than give me the cold shoulder." 

John's replies:
Being asked to send prices / details by fax / post / e-mail is a very common situation and in the main I agree wholeheartedly with our questioner; it is rarely the case that sending prices will result in an order. There are of course, as so often, exceptions to this (take-away pizzas come to mind!) and much depends on what exactly is being sold.

Depending upon what is being sold, it is wise if possible and commercially realistic to secure an appointment in order to run through requirements, options etc. in more detail. “It really is no problem as I am passing anyway” (aren’t you?).

Of course “send me the pricelist” may just be a polite way of saying “No” and in these ‘carbon footprint’ times one can often play the ecological card in not sending out prices, other than perhaps by e-mail and then following up to close the sale.

“What particular items are you interested in” may be used to qualify whether a request for the price list is a genuine enquiry or a put off and details of the prospect’s interest can be better determined.

Being told that the person you are speaking to “doesn’t see sales people” rings some alarm bells with me as this indicates that already there is some kind of ‘image’, maturity or relationship problem and the value of either the relationship here, or the benefits which you can bring, are not appreciated.

To answer this question more relevantly we would really need to know more about the specifics of what it is that you are selling.

You may also consider the sales audit option as outlined below.


10:50 - Suzanne writes in with this query:
“We are retailers of gourmet/speciality food but are having problems with marketing our website. We have limited advertising budget and are looking for cheap ways to get our name out to the general public. Any ideas for us?”

John replies:
To answer this question, we would need to know much more about your specific product offering, target market(s), desired outcomes etc. Why is the website so important? Is it your primary sales channel? Etc.

We are in sales!, so we focus on selling! That means a focus on bringing in revenue, generating volume and making profit. There are many many different and generally more effective ways to generate sales which we would propose, perhaps linked to driving prospects to a web site, but we would be unlikely to recommend solely relying on 'marketing a website'.

This question is more orientated to marketing, the spending of money (albeit as cheaply as possible), the creation, influence or bringing together of circumstances to facilitate selling to take place. Very different to our own focus and expertise.

In this internet age, companies can spend a fortune on website promotion, specific search criteria ads, directing traffic to sites etc.......and not get anywhere.

This question indicates a lack of comfort with the sales and marketing mix and could well be the tip of the iceberg in terms of opening up possible improvements.

My recommendation here would be to book one of our 'sales audit workshops', the cost is £350 plus VAT for a half day session which delivers a critique of your current sales processes along with an outline sales strategy.

The £350 (less travel) is fully refunded if sales improvements of at least twice that value are not generated within a month.

For more information please e-mail

This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it


10:20 - Alistair also wants to know:
“Is there a standard formula for designing a prospecting strategy?”

John replies:
Yes. There is a formula which we cover during the 'Art of Prospecting' seminar.

It needs to be specifically implemented having regard to your own procuct or service, business objectives and desired approach.

A standard framework though exists.


10:10  - Today's first queston comes from Alistair:
"What’s the difference between cold calling & prospecting?”

John replies:
A very simple answer to this would be that 'Cold calling is searching for needles in a haystack. Prospecting is the act of locating haystacks.'

Cold Calling is random, generally demoralising and soul destroying - a questionable use of time.

Prospecting is intelligence led, coordinated, is directly linked to the company strategy and generates economies of both scale and scope.


Free workshop
On the 10th October 2007, John Bycroft will also be running the The Art of Prospecting workshop - which is free to EMIN members.