Odds are, some of you looked at the cover of this month's issue and asked "What in the world were they thinking?" Declaring someone the best salesperson in the country is risky business, we know. But we're confident that if, after reading Rick Davis' profile, you don't end up agreeing with us that "Cowboy" Jackie Allmond is the No. 1 outside sales rep in construction supply today, you'll concede he certainly ranks among the top contenders. At the least, Davis' profile turns up a slew of sales tips worth passing along to your staff.

Craig Webb Photo: James Kegley / www.jameskegley.com Personally, I was most inspired by one of Davis' key conclusions about Allmond–that Cowboy makes sales primarily by understanding and then helping solve his customer's problems. That's a refreshing change from my first extended experience with a salesman, a former used car dealer assigned to sell advertising for a magazine I was creating on a then-new innovation called the global positioning system.

That guy–I'll call him Kirk–graduated from the Glengarry Glen Ross school of salesmanship: a supersized mix of blather, indifference to the rules, and psychological gamesmanship who measured his worth by his ability to close deals. "It's all about ABC: Always Be Closing," he'd declare, quoting Glengarry's Alec Baldwin, the overbearing boss who denied coffee to weak salesmen because "Coffee is for closers." Kirk loved that movie so much he lifted Baldwin's monologue for his answering machine message, and he nearly slugged me when I unknowingly kept talking to a prospect while he was trying to close.

Kirk was proudest when he sold something even he knew the customer shouldn't have bought. In contrast, Jackie Allmond thinks about the customer's needs first and finds ways to solve their problems. That attitude doesn't necessarily cost Allmond business; Davis tells of how Cowboy persuaded a builder to switch from vinyl to wood windows by explaining how the builder could sell the upgrade to home buyers. Then Allmond won the related millwork business as well. He could do that because he knows the building business as well as, or better than, most builders.

You'll find a similar message in another profile in this issue. My ProWatch feature on Associated Building Supply (ABS) examines how a California company increased sales by sharpening its product array and target market. Because of those two moves, ABS' sales team knows its customers and its products better than ever before, and thus is able to find the right solution to a customer's needs. I often have argued that what you know matters as much or more than what you sell, and both Allmond and ABS help prove that point.

ProSales aims to be your partner in the same way. Our stories are inspired by what you have told us you want to know. As with Allmond, we believe that ultimately ProSales will win trust and involvement by serving you, the dealer, not by trying to foist something upon you. Our idea of a successful close is delivering news you can use.

Craig Webb, editor