Sales Strategies: Linda Ruggiero, Avon

To be successful in sales, you need to “gear your approach around your strengths and weaknesses,” says Linda Ruggiero. “The same approach doesn’t work for every salesperson.” And she should know. In the eight years since Ruggiero began selling Avon products, she has risen to become a senior executive unit leader (the company’s highest leadership level), with a team of some 375 reps countrywide, 300 of whom are based in Westchester. Ruggiero’s team generates between $30,000 and $50,000 in sales every two weeks, totaling roughly $1 million annually.  

The approach Ruggiero used to get to this level is one that suits her personality perfectly, she says. “I love talking to people. I’m not thrown off by walking up to potential customers and engaging them in a discussion,” explains the New Rochelle resident.

Ruggiero started by pounding the pavement. “I would hit all the supermarkets, dry cleaners, and Laundromats to hand out my brochures and let them know I was selling Avon,” Ruggiero explains. Even today, with a broad customer base and a large team of sellers, she is not content to just sit back and earn commissions. She still goes out in the field with team members each week to drum up new business.

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From a sales leadership standpoint, however, Ruggiero recognizes that her up-close-and-personal method is not for everyone. “When I work with team members to help them build sales, we find things they are comfortable with,” she says. For reps who are not as comfortable approaching people in person, for example, she steers them toward emailing and building an Internet business.

And Ruggiero knows that customers like to be sold in different ways, too. “I make the merchandise available to potential customers. But if someone doesn’t want something, I move on to the next person.” She also advocates finding ways to build personal connections with customers, and studying their purchase histories as key assets for boosting sales. If one of her customers frequently orders skincare products, for instance, she will approach that customer when Avon has new or discounted skincare merchandise to offer. And, if she also knows that the customer has fair skin, she might throw in a sunscreen sample to entice a future purchase. “I try to remember details and make it personal,” she says. “You’re not just making a delivery—you are building a relationship.”

â–º Bob Petrocelli, New York Life Insurance Company

â–º Robert Bongiardino, Pamal Broadcasting

â–º Susan Strawgate Code, Houlihan Lawrence

â–º Guy Forgione, White Plains Chrysler Jeep Dodge

â–º Jeff Griffin, ADP

â–º John Doolan, Heineken USA

â–º For more from 914INC’s Q2 2013 Issue, click here.

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