…and what we need to do about it.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about why it seems to be so hard to get PCB sales people to focus on any aspect of selling from lead generation to closing a sale. This makes our job as sales consultants particularly daunting since we are in the business of coaching sales people to success. But most of the time we cannot get these PCB sales professionals to take a deep breath and spend some time focused on trying to be …better sales people.
Some time back this magazine offered a unique prospecting tool called Board Buyers which I personally felt was an outstanding way to locate PCB buyers, what technologies they bought enabling the sales person to get in touch with the right people and try to sell them their boards. It didn’t work, not at all. Actually let me back up, it worked for a few very good sales people I know who loved the idea and made it work for them. The rest of the sales people I heard from did nothing but complain about the program. They looked for inaccuracies in the program using lame excuses such as some buyer had moved to another company and thus the program information was inaccurate. But the real reason that these sales people did not like Board Buyers was because the program made them accountable. Their sales manager could actually tell who was using it and how much time they were spending on the program. Man, they hated that.
But before we join in a complete condemnation of PCB sales people we need to pause for a moment and get a better idea of why they hate spending their time prospecting and in lead generation and it is this; by its very nature selling PCB’s has to be a farmers’ business rather than a hunters’ because the salespeople have to have an ongoing relationship with their customers and because of this they live and die by their company’s performance and yes their ability to get that other order, that follow up order depends wholly on how well their company is performing.
The PCB salesperson’s sales success is directly proportional to how well his shop performs. It doesn’t matter if the sales person is the best sales person in the world if her company cannot get a quote out on time or build a Quality board and ship it on schedule no amount of prospecting or lead generation or sales skills are going to make much of a difference. So, that’s why they spend so much of their time working on making sure that their company is performing well rather than being out there selling.
One can argue that they can just ignore their company’s poor performance and get out there and get new customers, but that is hard to do when you know that sooner or later those customers are going to be disappointed as well. In short if we want our sales people to sell the way we want them to, the way they should be selling, then we have to take care of our customers. We must make sure that we are delivering the best products and services on the market today.
Oh, I have heard some of your say in the past, “well if we were perfect we wouldn’t need sales people would just come directly to us and buy directly from us.” With all due respect that is an incredibly dumb thing to say. No if you’re company was performing well and doing everything you are supposed to be doing then the sales person could do his job. If she could count on your company doing everything it was supposed to do like getting quotes out on time and producing Quality PCB’s and delivering them on schedule, then the sales person would have time to be out there selling instead of apologizing, hunting instead of farming. They would be more interested in finding was to win over new customers and not have to worry so much about keeping the ones they already have. Yes, they would be selling like we want them to.
So, that our sales people can be selling instead of apologizing. If they can be out there getting new customers instead of frantically trying to talk their current customers into giving them that next order or worse yet trying to keep them as customers, we must find a way to take care of business. We must focus on providing our customers with the very best service, the very best value that money can buy and then and only then will our sales people be free to sell to their hearts content. Only then will they be free to do the real job we are paying them to do. It’s only common sense