One of the fundamental principles that I’ve held to for my career in sales is this: One of the best things a sales manager can do is make joint sales calls with his/her sales people.
While I continue to believe that, I received an email from an Ezine subscriber some time ago that made me think a bit more cautiously about this.
He identified himself as a buyer, and wrote me about the practice from his point of view – a person on the other side of the desk. He began by observing that joint sales calls with the sales manager often caused more harm than good.
Here are some of the observations he made, followed by my comments.
• The sales managers often come in with a patter that is all positive. I saw it as B.S. …. in that they did not really believe it themselves, and both the sales person and I [the buyer] knew that he was ignoring a lot of negatives.
DK – Transparency and honesty are always preferable to B S. The days of expecting that your overtly positive patter will gloss over real issues and enamor the customer (or the sales person) are long gone.
• The sales managers were often not open to taking suggestions, or, if they did, there was no follow up back to the customer.
DK – Could it be that some sales managers are so concerned with their view of themselves as the all-knowledgeable person that they come across as not being open to suggestions from the customers? One of the reasons for a sales manager to make joint sales calls is to hear it directly from the customer’s mouth. Sales managers should develop the habit of listening carefully to the customers.
• There was often a tension visible between the sales manager and the sales person. It gave me, as the customer, a feeling that the relationships were rarely what they should have been.
DK – In my career as a sales person, I had a couple of sales managers with whom the relationship could be called “tense.” Frankly, I tried to avoid having them make joint sales calls with me. Perhaps it was because I felt the customer would pick up on that tension. Regardless, this is a sobering observation from a customer which should prod both sales people as well as sales managers to examine their relationships and improve them if necessary.
• The sales managers were not aware of the problems that were previously reported to the sales person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the “I’ll look into it” answer, and never heard back.
DK – One of the reasons to make a joint call is to let the customer know that he/she is valued by the management of the company as well as by the sales person. Showing a lack of knowledge of the customer’s issues sends a message that you really don’t care. And, of course, every sales manager should “do what they say they are going to do,” and follow up with the customer whenever appropriate. That’s Sales 101.
One of the most sobering experiences in our lives occurs when we gain a glimpse of how other people see us. This reflection by a corporate buyer should cause many of us to stop and consider our actions, attitudes and motivations, in order to take our performance to a higher level.