This week alone, I had to attach 3 old emails as references to discussions that were 5 years or older. True, I was lucky, I kept copies on my hard drive of certain documents, and let me tell you, I would rather be lucky than good! Each of those mails saved the principal a lot of money, because of the agreements that were made from the past. They weren’t contracts, but enough documentation to provide details that are necessary to best explain what the original intent of a contract might have been.
If you have been at your position for a while, you have started your career as an Account Manager, developing the relationships, making business happen, and selling. Over time, you moved from just ‘handling’ the account to being the actual relationship manager. When you started, your sales manager came to you and said, “Go ask Account ABC, what they think of this proposal”, now your company comes to you first to ask you how the customer will respond to certain proposals. You have become the expert for that account.
From expert, we move to the ‘account historian’, the one that can tell the new controller, or plant manager about the history of these parts and how they came to be. We know the good stories and the bad ones, and even if we aren’t handling that account directly anylonger, they come to us for opinions.
In order to be considered this ‘expert’ you have to be organized and thorough in your record keeping. As sales people, I think we are genetically incapable of being neat and organized, but we have to learn how to be, and also we have to learn what could be important in the long run. Our administration (back-office) keeps all the real ‘legal’ documents like proposals, engineering documents, drawings, and contracts. But we need to keep the things that have lead up to that point. We must have some form of paper trail that shows conversations that show intent and of course what the promises were.
This blog is just a reminder to keep copies of; meeting minutes, emails (especially long chains or conversations), hand written notes, and come up with a way to have multiple copies. Don’t rely on your IT department to have and archive file of 4 year old emails. You need to plan for contingencies (like changing from Lotus Notes to Outlook), or moving from Office 2007 to 2010, and God forbid the old – BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH …
Also keep in mind, that the industry standard seems to be in favor of changing purchasing agents every 6-12 months, so those records are going to save your butt when your next buyer comes in. You will gain a lot of credibility with these new faces at your customers when you can show both longevity and the history behind previous decisions.
Sales Managers, you too should be thinking about this as a method of security! If your top sales people leave, most of them take this history with them. You lose your expert and your historian, and the best way to not lose your customer is to have this information available also.
This is the boring part of our jobs; filing, record keeping, note taking, etc. But, let me tell you from personal experience, there is nothing better than finding an email that you wrote in 2004 that not only clears up the matters, but also shows that you predicted the future very accurately!
Organization is one of the topics in the book, PROFITS, Your Seven Letters to Success, which was released in December. I have a link on my blog page, as well as below to order through Amazon.com. The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions for you fellow E-Readers!
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Pinnacle Sales, is both a sales agency and consulting group that offers solutions for your sales & Marketing problems. We specialize in various processes from developing sales teams through one on one coaching, to providing account management and business development services.
Give us a call or send us a note at;
Pinnacle Sales, LLC
418 Main Street, Suite 6
Belleville, MI 48111