Tuesday, December 4, 2012

But I'm a Salesperson, NOT a Planner!

I’m Already Working 12 Hours a Day, Do You Want Me Selling or Planning?

Many distributors have discovered that it takes a very long time to establish new customer relationships.  Others find that in spite of success with existing products, their organization’s ability to launch related products necessary for long-term business health are hampered.  

The simple truth is our industry has slowly adapted a dangerous habit.  We practice a reactive sales model.  It’s not an immediate threat, but long term, it’s crippling.  Here’s how it works.  An existing customer calls with a question or support issue on some past purchase.  The salesperson reacts to this issue immediately.  Along the way some excellent customer support is provided.  The customer compliments the seller and potentially rewards this behavior with another purchase.  Everything sound good so far?  The unfortunate part of this equation takes a while to manifest itself.   Our ability to find new customers or expand the product technologies we sell is compromised. 

Planning lies central to this issue.  Or more precisely, the lack of planning is slowly cutting and constricting the life’s blood of future success.  During the past decade, in spite of technology tools to expedite its impact, planning has fallen on hard times.  This can range from simple things like setting appointments to investing the time matching product introductions to customer need.

While conducting research for our book, The Target Driven Sales Process, we discovered many salespeople still used product-of-the-week selling.  With pre-thought, no metrics, and no analytics, these folks randomly hand out product literature in a time-consuming, scattergun approach.

Planning improves efficiency.  Yet to a certain segment of our sales force, this concept seems counterintuitive.  Taking time to reinforce planning is frustrating because most of those in management positions take it for granted.  There really is a new reality.  It truly is different from back “in our day.”  Smartphones, iPads, electronic literature and lots of other gadgets allow a rookie to disguise their planning deficiency to a point.  Planning is different from 15 years ago, but the skills are still essential to success.  
We believe the first step in planning must involve the process of matching customer needs to our product offerings; most call this targeting.  Face-to-face customer time is a precious commodity. Wasting a single second talking about a product for which the customer has no interest is a travesty.  Wasting the time of a product specialist or other team member should be a hanging offense. 

Distributor Planning Made Easy.  Check out our Distributors Annual Planning Workbook:

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