As a CEO or business owner, you wonder why Sales are not increasing. You have spent money on Sales Training, hired account managers, and review the metrics weekly. What are you missing?
One of my functions is to gather information to provide my principals with some level of market intelligence. In this function, I put myself in front of my customers customer ... I try to interview these people with the sole purpose of finding out where they are going, which which will tell me where my principals where to go.
We don't often get this direct information from our direct customer base, due to several factors like competition and confidentiality. However, this won't prohibit my principals from gaining this information. We would rather go to our customers with a new advancement that we are sure will be accepted, instead of guessing and wasting time in developments. It is just like Proctor & Gamble doing a focus group with you and I, instead of asking WalMart or KMart if they think they can sell this. In the industrial sales world, it is a little more difficult to do so, because your customers don't like us visiting their customers, but I look at it as the best way to gather 'good' information.
One of the things that became apparent in these interviews, is that there are very few sales people out there, and a lot of account managers! I had assumed most of the questions I was asking were already being asked by others, and was told several times that they needed time to think about things, and was very happy that I had asked. It was obvious that the companies calling on them, were managing the relationship, instead of developing it.
Today's blog is a reminder to you PROFESSIONAL SALES PEOPLE, not to act like an account manager, be proactive, and be respectful of your customers opinions, and concerns. Below I put just a few examples of how to tell an account manager from a sales person. For those of you that don't see a difference in the approach, you are an account manager ... for those of you that can see the difference, make sure you are in the RIGHT column.
|How are things going?||What are your upcoming plans?|
|Our shipments were at 99.5% last month||Which days do you really need deliveries?|
|Is your demand for part number X stable?||We see opportunities to use your part number X in several different applications, what time can we meet the R&D Group on Friday?|
|When do you want to schedule our annual negotiations meeting?||We have come up with some great new innovative products that will help you drive down your systems costs. I would like to demonstrate them to your team, what time is better, 2 or 3?|
|Our annual customer satisfaction survey is coming up, who should I send it to this year?||I get the feeling that you are happy with our performance; please tell me in our own words how we are doing? I am sure that there are several other team members that have an influence in our partnership, who else shall I interview?|
|I am happy to hear that I haven’t heard about any quality issues with our products over the past 12 months||As you know, we deal with numerous clients around the World. Our experience in solving problems has given us insight in many different areas outside our current product offering, and has helped us develop new items. Where are your biggest pains right now? There’s a good chance that we can help.|
This is not meant to be an all inclusive list of questions, just a short reminder of how to be more proactive, and still get the same information you need to grow.
If you feel that you've fallen on the LEFT side too often, it might be time to get a coach! That's where the Kole Performance Group can help you with!