Jim Wheeler 2013-05-03 22:16:26
Hang on to your salespeople Counter and field sales positions are probably the most critical jobs, because to your customers these people are your company. I understand most owners and managers think customers are loyal to them and to the name of their store. However, history has proven time and again that when the person the customers know best at your firm leaves, a lot of business goes with them! In fact, many companies try to hire away good salespeople, because if they’re that good they know quite a bit of your business will come with them. How do you go about losing your best sales and/or counter people? Well, most companies are usually in the process of doing that at any given time. Managers are always worried about those who are wildly successful because they are paid the most. Why, I’ve heard managers and owners say, “He (or she) is making more money than I am!” Ooh! Losing a key employee could cost you a lot. The end result is most companies do whatever they can to even out the cash flow. They reduce the size of sales territories and cut commissions. Yes, everybody does it. They try to reduce the influx of all those golden eggs. Several years ago I worked for a company that had an over-the-top salesman. He was an odd-looking guy, but that didn’t have any effect on his customers. Come to think of it, a lot of the best salesmen I have known were a bit odd-looking. In his case, all the standard tricks were used. His territory kept being cut and his commissions were being reduced until he finally left and went into business for himself. I remember that particular last year as being the most profitable in the company’s history. And just a couple years later the firm was sold. First, to someone who didn’t realize the value of his people and then to the company’s principal equipment supplier, never to return to its former glory again. Did this all happen because of the loss of one man?Probably not. But whenever you lose staff, you probably lose customers. In time you will lose critical staff due to age and other factors. However, don’t take your people too lightly and force them to leave. Hold onto them if you can and don’t provide negative incentives for those who are the most successful. I’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the HVACR supply business. I’ve worked for manufacturers and supply houses and I was once a contractor who bought from them. As a contractor, I don’t think I was much different from other contractors.I held a fierce loyalty to those salespeople who helped me get started in my business and to those with whom I became friends. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t price shop on commodities such as refrigerant, gas valves, motors and thermostats. But the select few got the bulk of my purchases. Realize that if you think all your business is impersonal and based on price and availability, your company is probably not reaching its full potential.People are still people, and much of what they do is based on friendships. Don’t chase away those your customers think of as their friends. Jim Wheeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked in various positions in the HVACR industry since the early 1970s. His articles have been appearing every month since October of 1986. Contact him at email@example.com.
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