Posted on: Wednesday, March 5, 2003 - Advertiser Staff Writer
The dynamics of sales
By Dan Nakaso
|Ron Martin, president of Success Dynamics, conducts motivational rallies statewide and on the Mainland. The author of three self-published books and co-writer of a fourth, he rates clients' sales staffs in his "Morning Report." Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser
It was only 8 in the morning and the first cups of coffee hadn't even kicked in when Ron Martin walked before a group of sales people and blurted out, "What time is it? ... It's showtime."For the next hour — as he does nearly every morning of the week — Martin spoke in simple, commonsense language about the psychology of selling. His pony tail bobbing, Martin worked the crowd and gave away buttons he makes with slogans such as "No Snivelling" or "Speak up, shut up and BE SENSITIVE."
At one point, Martin waved a $50 bill and offered it to anyone who could list the 10 traits of successful selling techniques that he documents in one of his books. Nobody won the money and that was Martin's point. Successful people, he said, need to constantly remind themselves of what works.
Martin, 61, is a former jewelry retailer and manufacturer who has translated his philosophies on successful selling into another business, 12-year-old Success Dynamics Inc., which he runs out of his home in the back of Haha'ione Valley.
He has written three self-published books and co-wrote a fourth. He's also in demand by nearly 100 businesses in Hawai'i and on the Mainland that seek his wisdom at regular speaking engagements or through the "Morning Reports" he sends them detailing how their sales staffs performed the day before.
Ron Martin's Top 10 "Selling Success Traits" Successful sales people are:
1. Enthusiastic. "Enthusiasm communicates trust and tells customers that you believe in what you're doing."
2. Honest. "Some people overpromise and end up under-delivering. The customer ends up unhappy."
3. Focused. "If your feet are in front of a customer, your mind should be on the customer."
4. Positive. "They expect results. They expect to have a good day. Life is full of tragedies but inside every storm is a rainbow."
5. Goal-oriented. "They know where they are, they know where they're going and they know how much farther they have to go to get there."
6. Disciplined. "Disciplined people do things even when they don't want to. Define ideal habits and do them over and over. When it becomes a habit, then it becomes easy."
7. Reliable. "You can count on them."
8. Clean. "Successful people don't try to get another day out of a dirty shirt."
9. Healthy. "Healthy people miss less work, have more energy."
10. Knowledgeable. "You can have tons of knowledge but if you're unenthusiastic, dishonest, unfocused, negative, don't have goals, are undisciplined, unreliable, dirty and sickly, your knowledge is not going to get you through."
- From "Retail Selling Made Easy"
"He uses pretty sensible logic, whether he's talking about going on a diet or achieving sales goals," said Jerry Kohl, president of the Los Angeles-based Brighton company, a clothing accessories manufacturer that saw $200 million in business last year.Martin showed up for Brighton presentations earlier this year in jeans, tennis shoes and aloha shirts, and the hundreds of retailers and clients who attended his speeches "loved him," Kohl said. "They wanted his autograph."
Kohl is flying Martin to Los Angeles to make videotapes that he'll distribute each month among the 6,000 shops that do business with Brighton.
Martin doesn't put on sales seminars. He calls them "success rallies." And he refuses to describe himself as a consultant. "I'm a resultant," he said from the lanai of his new home, which offers a glorious view of Maunalua Bay off Hawai'i Kai. "I don't consult. I have a true concern for getting results."
Success Dynamics is on a pace to generate nearly $500,000 in business this year. Martin's 2-year-old "Morning Report" alone needs a staff of about a dozen to turn each company's sales data into easy-to-read rankings of the sales staff — along with goals and monthly cash awards for the top performers.
Martin's own business experience hasn't come without personal casualty. One of his six marriages ended when his wife left him 21 years ago, saying "I was married to the business," Martin said. "So I sold the business the next day and she left anyway."
It was Martin's third marriage and it lasted eight years, the longest of any of them. So far. The shortest was over in a day.
His wife of four years, Masae Martin, 53, was managing a jewelry store when she started attending Martin's success rallies.
"He was not human to me," she said. "He was a god. ... When we got married, everybody told me, 'Are you crazy? He's been married so many times.' But my mother said, 'Hey, that means he's positive.' "
Ron Martin grew up in Southern California and began learning about motivation as a 16-year-old working at a drive-up store in Buena Park selling milk, bread and eggs.
The owner wanted to move a new brand of bread and offered a clock radio to the teen salesman who sold the most.
"I can still see him holding that clock radio over his head," Martin said. "God, I wanted that. I must have sold 10 times the loaves of bread as the second guy."
It was an important lesson about goals and rewards that bosses sometimes forget, Martin said.
"I call it WIIFM," he said. "It's the FM station we're all tuned into. WIIFM: What's In It For Me?"
He dropped out of junior college to go into the Air Force as a nuclear weapons electronics specialist, sold lawn mowers at J.C. Penney, worked in an electronics manufacturing plant, sold cosmetics in homes and, along the way, took mental notes about ambition, motivation and human nature.
In 1962 he started a company that sold high-end jewelry through home parties. It grew into a $1-million-a-month operation with its own manufacturing plant and 5,000 part-time sales people.
After his third marriage ended in 1982, Martin sold the company, lost much of the proceeds in the divorce, left his Cadillac at Los Angeles International Airport and moved to Hawai'i.
Ninety days later, in Waikiki, Martin was down to his last $1 when he bumped into a business acquaintance who was running a Hawai'i chain of jewelry stores.
Tom O'Gwynn thought his sales people needed inspiration and offered Martin $3,000 a month to motivate the staff and give him monthly reports on their progress.
Other business owners began asking Martin to speak to their sales staffs, too, including the artist Wyland, who hounded Martin to put his ideas into a book.
"I didn't know how to write," Martin said. "I didn't even know how to punctuate. I kept telling Wyland, 'I'll do it one of these days.'"
One day in 1995 at Martin's beachfront home in Hale'iwa, Wyland grew weary of Martin's excuses. Wyland banged out what became the foreword to "Success Made Easy," dragged a wicker chair onto the sand, propped Martin on it with a cocktail and took a photo that became the book's cover. Wyland then told Martin to write the first chapter.
He published the first 5,000 copies of "Success Made Easy" at a cost of $20,000. To pay for the publishing, Martin sent fliers to clients offering them an autographed copy and a $19.99 discounted price to the first 1,000 people.
"The book was all paid for before it even got shipped," Martin said.
He followed the same formula to publish "Retail Selling Made Easy," "Sales Management Made Easy" and "Public Speaking Made Easy," which he co-wrote with Pam Chambers, a Honolulu corporate and personal coaching consultant.
Each book features Martin on the cover in a laid-back pose wearing the same aloha shirt and wide-brimmed straw hat.
"It's a character I call the Made Easy Guy," Martin said. In real life, Martin drives around town in a black Cadillac with license plates that read "EASY."
Two years ago he decided to help a client measure employees' sales and at the same time teach himself how to use a computer. The idea quickly expanded into the "Morning Report," which is faxed or e-mailed daily to 75 businesses, representing some 200 stores.
The report breaks down the preceding day's sales in a variety of ways, from ranking each employee's sales to tracking how well the store is meeting its monthly goals. The names of the top sellers are also highlighted in a "stars report."
"People say all of the time, 'Why can't we do this ourselves?' And I say, 'Good question. Why don't you?' People underestimate the value of recognition and instituting it," Martin said.
His rallies and "Morning Report" are "one of the many key ingredients" in the growth and success of Pictures Plus since Martin has worked with the company over the past eight years, said CEO and owner Kent Untermann. Pictures Plus gives "Retail Selling Made Easy" to every new sales person and relies on the "Morning Report," Untermann said.
Eva Nakamura, a sales associate at the Clio Blue fashion jewelry store in Waikiki, has seen her sales rise 25 percent since she started attending Martin's rallies and getting his "Morning Report."
She has also won individual bonuses that range from $25 to $100 per month for various sales categories.
"It helps you set your goal every morning and get you focused," Nakamura said. "You see the report and you don't want to have your name on the bottom."
It's that kind of feedback that Martin swears keeps him going.
"Fun to me," Martin said, "is helping other people make money."
Do you know of a small business that has overcome challenges? Contact Dan Nakaso at email@example.com or 525-8085.