A perfect salesperson, surpassing their objectives, taking care to sell the right products to the right people whilst ensuring a comfortable margin and all in line with your strategy and with respect for colleagues and clients?
Of course, this picture of perfection isn't a true reflection of your sales and marketing team.
Analysis of the why and the how.
How many times have you turned a blind eye to your sales & marketing people?
Before taking a look at those concerned, let's take a look at ourselves. Yes, us, the leaders and sales managers.
How many times have we turned a blind eye to a slightly dodgy sale because of a nice fat figure written on the bottom right of the estimate?
How many times have we "forgotten" to reprimand a salesperson because they're make the most sales?
How many times have we let that salesperson off a small administrative task that all the other staff nevertheless manage to do?
Is the salesperson the all-powerful master of all he surveys?
As a manager, if you let them believe that, then it's up to you to accept the pros and cons of the situation.
With regard to the objectives of your sales and marketing team, does the end justify the means?
How many times have I heard that salespeople feel they can use any means to make sales, on the pretext of achieving their targets (which they often claim to be unattainable).
Even if it means straying slightly from the strategy...
This approach generates turnover in the short term, but very soon starts to cause damage:
- Carrying out a project in 50 days when it really needed 100 - it's easy to see that the equation can't work.
- Being surprised when fixed price projects get out of control and lose money because they were sold with too low a margin to make a profit.
- Agreeing that something can be done tomorrow when the schedules are already full to bursting...
Then it's up to the other services to reap the harvest of this kind of approach.
They will then need to use their imagination, all their energies and often great diplomacy in the face of clients' complaints.
This egocentric approach is devastating, time consuming, demotivating and divisive and more besides. Without you realising, these actions can commit your company to undesirable strategic directions, e.g. launch of a new market, formation of an alliance, etc.
"The important thing is to get that signature! Even if it means hiding the truth.”
Have you ever lost business for being too transparent or too honest? Your clients choose you, but what if you allowed yourself to choose your clients?
What if you refused to bow to client pressure and favoured sincere, direct discussion?
Lies and concealment have not been acceptable practice for a long time. Agree not to sign up with a prospect who only looks at the price and not the value of “your people”.
What should be the place of sales and marketing people in a business?
Salespeople are also very susceptible and have a blinkered view of reality.
“It's thanks to the sales I make that the company is doing well and so can pay your salaries". That's why they feel committed to a mission and believe that there's no point to administrative dirty work.
The salespeople, being the supreme elite, have no time to lose, they need to generate turnover.
There are the estimates to be entered on the computer system, the expenses claims to be submitted. What could be easier than delegating it to an assistant while offering them the privilege of taking the rap if something goes wrong?
“You are the image of the company"
Now then, let's be serious salesmen and saleswomen, more than anybody else in the company you need to set an example, and must above all conduct affairs with an eye on the long-term outcome, putting the interests of the company, your colleagues and clients first before your own. The return on investment will exceed your expectations.
We need to equip ourselves with a parental instinct.
Pay special attention to the wellbeing of your colleagues and your clients. You must ensure that the project you sold will be properly carried out and collectively agreed by all parties concerned.
How many times have I heard it said, in my past experience or from colleagues, in an exasperated tone "What have you sold this time that doesn't exist?".
So yes, sales and marketing people are a necessary evil, because they are by nature exuberant, extrovert and therefore difficult to manage. But once they're on the right track they become formidable assets in the creation of value rather than turnover alone.