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Editor's Note: To listen to Dan's weekly column, as you've always done in the past, click here. For the written transcript, keep reading...The thing your salespeople should be doing is selling--selling at all times. The last thing you want is for them to be distracted by other things that will take their focus away from getting those sales. If you can keep your salespeople moving in the right direction you will be successful. If not, you’ve got trouble, big trouble right here in River City.Keeping that in mind, here are five things you don’t want your salespeople doing:
- You do not want them worried about their customers’ orders getting out on time. You have to be worried about that to the point where you make sure that it happens…all the time. If the salespeople don’t have the confidence in your facility to do things right, to get good product out on time, they will not sell effectively. If they feel they have to spend most of their time babysitting their customers’ orders through your facility, they do not have the confidence to convince customers to buy from them. They will also spend too much time worrying about what is going on in house and not enough time concerned about what is going on in their territory.
- You don’t want your salespeople spending their time apologizing to customers. This is really counter-productive. You want your salespeople tracking down the next order, not spending time making sure they keep the accounts they've already won. I once heard someone say that if everything was perfect you wouldn’t need salespeople--the customers would just come to you. This is, of course, pure nonsense based on justifying poor performance. No, everything should be perfect, your jobs should be right, always, and they should always get out on time. A salesperson is not an apologist for the shop’s inadequacies, the salesperson has to know that his product is the best product on the market and use that to differentiate his products from those of other companies who are less than perfect. If a salesperson is apologizing, she is not selling. If a sales person is spending her time playing defense, and trying to keep a customer, she is wasting her time, your time, and the money you are spending on her.
- The salesperson should not be the only customer advocate in the company. We are all customer advocates and we are all salespeople in a way. If the salesperson has to waste time convincing you to do the right thing by your customers, you are on the wrong track. If you feel that the salesperson is spending too much time defending his customer against your people--notice the words “his” and “yours” in this sentence--then you are really on the wrong track. If you feel you have to remind your salesperson that he works for you and not the customer, you are really really on the wrong track. Do not force your salesperson to choose between you and the customer because you and your salesperson should be in the same side--the customer’ side.
- The salesperson is not a bill collector. His job is to make the customer feel good about working with your company, don’t make him be the bad guy. It’s very hard and confusing to be the good guy one day and the bad guy the next. There are other people in your company who are supposed to be handling this, make sure they do. There might be some times--drastic times, mind you--when you are going to need your salesperson’s help if a customer’s payables have gotten out of hand, but expect him to handle this with tact and diplomacy, do not expect him, or demand of him, to go in and strong arm the customer, unless of course you plan on dumping that customer. If you want to live to fight another day with that customer give the salesperson plenty of leeway when you ask him to work this problem; remember that tomorrow or the day after that or next week he is going to go back in there with his sales hat on and ask for more business.
- And, finally, never let your salesperson fly blind, do whatever you can to make sure that he has all the information all the time. She needs to know when an order is placed, she needs to know when there's a technical problem; he needs to know when a board is going to be late. She needs to be well informed about customers at all times.
Our salespeople are our scouts, they are our company representatives, they are the face of the company, it is our job to make sure that they have everything they need to succeed out there in a very tough and competitive market. No matter what you think, the more successful we can help our salespeople be ,the more successful our company will be. It’s only common sense.