Sunday, December 19, 2010
It is nice to be quoted. I was alerted today that someone in Australia has published one of my articles for Australian business people to read. It shares some thoughts that were first expressed at CustomerThink.com. (Be sure to check out that website. You may want to search for "Chris Stiehl" there and see some of what I have written in the past.)
One of the advantages of being published is that people can comment on your thoughts and your work. That enables an author to direct the discussion, to put a position out there and see what interest it sparks. I appreciate my thoughts about salespeople being shared in Australia. I cannot wait to read any responses from "The Land Down Under."
So, what was the point of the article? Salespeople are often blamed and measured, not often listened to or studied. I have seen salespeople being required to spend hours a week filling out reports and paperwork (OK, it was mostly computer "paperwork"). The salespeople were unhappy about this. They understood management's need to "measure" their activity, but wished that the measurement could be less intrusive. Instead of sitting at a computer desk, they felt they should be out selling!
The very best salespeople listen well. That is the key attribute. It can be shown that faster and easier tracking or reporting techniques not only make salespeople happier and more satisfied, but it also makes them more productive, in dollars and cents, their key measurement.
Management needs to listen to the salespeople just as if they were another segment of the marketplace. What I would recommend is that each company consider obtaining a "Voice of the Salesperson" in much the same way that customers are researched - collecting their needs in an open-ended research effort, possibly using an objective 3rd party to ask the questions and obtain their needs. Then, set about meeting those needs. The sales force is the voice and face of the company. Treat them as a valued resource.