By Sid Chadwick – 04/18/19
Published in American Printer
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that….but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great” ……………………………..Mark Twain
We see several repeating patterns in our great industry. A few…. forward-thinking owners….are doing all they can to prepare the next generation to “successfully take the reins”…..others…..not so much. (One’s ego can be a gift, or a destructive force.)
For example, “What are you doing to prepare and develop your potential Business Development resources into becoming an effective “Inside Sales Team…?” (If you aren’t…..may I ask, “When was the last time you hired…and retained…. an effective Outside Sales Rep?”)
For an Inside Sales Team, Several Instructional Options:
- Do you track, report — and expect — that every “Quote Letter” is personalized, explaining in your Quote letter why you should win the work, including what you know that is important to your buyer — beyond specifications? (Or….do your Quote Letters….look terribly similar to your competitors…?)
- Is every Quote letter followed-up with either a phone call or email, asking, “Did you receive our Quote for Project (name of Project)?”
- Do you have your CSR’s/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team… following-up on all still-outstanding major Quotes…for purposes of “Winning more profitable work”…?
- Do you have your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team… calling “Neglected Customers”, conveying what’s new in your company, re-introducing your company to new Buyer personnel, and asking about “What’s new”…at the Neglected Customer’s Company? (My guess: you have well over 150 Neglected Customers, if we go back only two years, to identify who no longer buys).
- Do you move into an immediate “New Buyer Program” — whenever there’s a change in Buyers? Do you “reintroduce” your New Buyer, with an invitation to visit your plant, and what you are capable of producing? (Our smallest client sends a personalized “New Buyer’s Guide” — to profound results.)
- Do you follow-up with the Buyer — who left, for developing a new customer? (Do you track this follow-up requirement, to insure it happens..?)
- Do your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team notify by email your Buyers — in advance — when to expect their proof …in order to coordinate and accelerate “Proof Reviews”….?
- Do you ask your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team — to document, “What are this customer’s performance priorities — for this year, or this quarter…so that you can be proactive in future contacts…..?”
- Do you ask your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team — to call all major customers and non-profits in the 3rd month of every quarter, asking if they have funds they might lose if not spent, and can you assist with “Advance Invoicing”?
- If you don’t win a project, are your CSR’s/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team expected to send the Buyer a “Thank you Note” — either hand-written or by email, thanking them for the opportunity, and again assuring your Buyer that you are available if the project, its proofs, or delivery date — run into trouble.
- Do your CSR’s/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team — call or email your customer with “project updates”, and an advance notice of when to expect delivery…?
- Do your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team — email your customer on when delivery occurred, and who signed for the delivery…?
- Do your CSR/Project Mgrs/Inside Sales Team notify the Customer, in advance, when delivery will be delayed, explaining why. (Do you track when this occurs, to insure it doesn’t happen again, anytime soon..?)
- Do you track how often your CSR’s/Project Mgs/Inside Sales Team — make contact with assigned Customers…?
- Do you review, at least Quarterly, each Customer’s purchases, compared to the previous year, same period….asking, “Why?”
“Change”….. outside our great industry….is happening faster than inside our great industry. (Other industries have been developing their Inside Sales Team…for more than a decade.)
As an opinion, the #1 and #2 reasons for losing customers are: (a) Changes in Buyer personnel (with no proactive introduction of the new Buyer — to your company), and (b) Lack of proactive contact, with meaningful information.
Are there “Standards of Service and Conduct” — in serving Customers in your organization?
Are those Standards reviewed, monitored, and respected….?
Do you pay a modest but meaningful commission, in addition to a fixed wage, to those willing to step-up and represent your Inside Sales Team — contacting Neglected Customers, contacting target prospects, and negotiating and winning profitable work — that’s meaningful to your organization’s future….?
The best Inside Sales Team Reps I know, are more profitable to their organizations….even outperforming…. their Outside Sales Rep counterparts.
“You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember… that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side.”………..Thomas Watson, Sr.