“I hate sales. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”
Whether you like it or not, you DO work in sales. We all do. We are all familiar with those jobs that have customer contact and we call those sales jobs or sales representatives or clerks or customer service. Sometimes we call those positions associates, customer care and so on. Either way, these are direct sales positions.
What about the indirect sales positions? We spend time and money training our employees to be good stewards of our products and services, to be customer friendly and develop very satisfied customers. Our goals are for every interaction with a client to be a happy and blissful experience. So we spend our training funds on getting our sales people or clerks to expensive customer care training and hope that it pays off in the long run.
There are numerous other people in your organization that are left in the dark about sales. We never think about offering the back room employees the training they need to interact with customers. Why would we? They don’t talk to them or see them ever. Every back room or support employee that creates products, prepares services or repairs products needs the training support for the customer experience. Whatever they produce, whatever they support, whatever task is theirs needs to focus on the end user, your customer.
I remember being in sales and having a shop with value added duties, drivers who delivered the product in a box truck and installation support when the customer needed it. When all these things didn’t happen as planned, the customer suffered and took it out on, who else, the sales rep. He’s the guy he could see. The back room guys are invisible. So the sales rep. gets beat up and the backroom folks didn’t care. That can never work for the customer. That support team needs to take the heat, feel the pain as much as the front line soldiers do. That’s what makes the team. It’s like having the best pitcher in the league while the fielders cannot hit at bat. The back room employees must have the customers’ face in their sights when they do their jobs and when they formulate a plan to deliver. They get their turn at bat and need to hit it out of the park each time. Customers want winning teams, not winning sales people.
What kind of training do these employees need?
- They need to know their front-line sales people and understand what they do and how they do it for a living. It’s easy for support personnel to think the sales people have the easiest job on the planet and make oodles of money. But one day in their shoes and they quickly learn different. New employees should spend time interacting with customers to get a feel for the dynamics of that encounter and the challenge to get to a close.
- Support personnel should get training on how quality counts. The ultimate destination for products and services is with the customer. Each and every product or service should be created for zero tolerance for failure. Empower your employees to make the call.
- Train each employee as if they meet each and every customer and sign their names to the products/services. If their name was on the product with their phone numbers, would they still handle it the same way? It’s with that kind of mindset that each employee is selling themselves as well as company products.
- Handle the things that go sideways as quickly as possible. If a product fails or even causes temporary downtime for a customer, deal with everyone involved in the chain and find out what went wrong. Adjust as needed to reduce the chance of failure.
- As President, Owner or Manager – communicate the importance of success to each employee and to your customers. Ask for your customers’ help when things go right and go wrong. “Let me know when we mess up, but also let me know when we get it right above and beyond your expectations.” Occasionally bring a customer in to talk with your employees and let them communicate the issues or the successes.
The distance between your product or service creation and the customer needs to be as short as possible. You do that by keeping the communication flowing among all employees. Make sure you provide the opportunities for them to stay informed and exchange their ideas in a respectable forum. These are achieved through short team meetings driven from the ground floor up to management.
Leading Edge Business Strategies, LLC is a coaching & consulting firm for small business. Paul Beaudette is the President and has over 30 years of successful business experience managing companies to sustainable profits and growth.
“Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey