Your Sales Rep: Concierge or Strategist?
You’ve worked hard to build a company that meets the needs of your customer base and that work has paid off over the years. Your sales force was asked to bring in business that you can be profitable with and they responded accordingly. With the changes to how clients communicate with their end customers or prospects, you’ve followed suit and added expanded capabilities. These additions included cross media applications, data analytics, storefronts, video and marketing automation tools that have all helped you stay current with the needs of the marketplace. So what’s wrong?
It seems that only one or two out of ten reps actually are effective at selling these opportunities. The managers might say that the reps are lazy or that they are making all the money they need and the reps might respond that they aren’t going to put their best client relationships at risk for these “new” applications or that the compensation plan pays them for print volume and that is what their focus will be. There may be another issue here and that is a matter of wiring.
The reps that are very proficient at selling print have become accustomed to finding a client, establish competency and develop a personal relationship and then facilitate the process (estimates, jobs, schedules, proofs, press ok’s, distribution, invoicing and getting paid). Their role, in many ways has become that of a guide or a concierge – facilitate the process and handle the issues along the way.
Client expectations for those who want to take advantage of all your “new” services over and above print, may be looking for something else in their sales rep. It starts with inquiries that usually come from someone the rep has not already met and they may not in fact be looking to build a personal relationship before they can make the case for a solid business relationship. Relationships matter, but personal relationships follow business relationships for many of these folks. While they have researched their options they still appreciate speaking with a rep who understands their business and has done as much research as they have done. They are looking for someone to challenge or validate their approach and truly contribute to the success of the effort.
The skill sets and personal attributes of todays’ successful business development professional who can actually discuss marketing campaign strategy and options differs from what most current print sales reps have. Training can help but only if the reps truly want to change and learn. This doesn’t mean they are bad people, just might not be wired to be successful in this new sales game.
In upcoming blogs I’ll follow up with thoughts on where to find these new reps, internal support teams and sales compensation strategies.