Discover your free Construction Marketing Ideas Email Newsletter

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Overselling? (2)

Thomas Kral of Reliable American Inc. Roofing-Siding ( installing a batten grid system on a roof and some solar shingles. He started the "overselling" thread on under the name "Grumpy"

My original posting relating to this forum topic found its way back to the thread there after one of the other thread posters posted a backlink to my blog. The theme of how much sales processes should be systematized is raised in the thread, and it is a valid issue. Should selling be 'dumbed down' so that reps must follow a process, guidelines, and systems to the "T"?

The issue here relates to quality -- really great salespeople internalize their own systems; they 'teach themselves' how to work best. Generally, the truly top performers resent excessive corporate intrusion into their work yet at the same time will conduct themselves with integrity and therefore their employer needs not worry about abuse or failure to follow corporate/business guidelines. So if you overly structure their process, you (a) risk losing them and (b) lose the potential they can bring to the process.

But, having said that, you clearly need business and sales systems or you will suffer the consequences of some really wild loose cannons. You need rules which build in flexibility but ensure control. And you obviously will have some standardized processes that must be followed by everyone (usually processes that are simple to administer or are so obviously rational that you would be a fool not to use them).

Of course this 'flexible' approach only works if you have really good salespeople! And that requires a really good recruitment system. I've found one that works for my business and variations may work for yours. It requires discipline, self-control, and an absolute confidence that you will not lower your standards. (If you are taking lower-calibre salespeople, then indeed you had better have their work clearly programmed and set out in an unbreakable system!) You also need to be ready to pay a salary guarantee to the representatives you hire. This is not as big a risk as you might think -- the screening process we use is so thorough the risk of paying salary to someone who won't contribute beyond the base quickly is low, indeed.

I am aware that my systems may be strained as the business grows -- the independent spirit and intellectual level of our sales team right now is really high -- and it may be challenged as the business grows, and management/operating systems suitable for larger organizations are implemented. Will we dumb down then? I hope not; but I want to grow. So I think I'll hold on to a really solid recruiting system, while creating support services and mechanisms that foster Independence but ensure fairness and mutual respect.

These principals also apply for consulting services. When you purchase a consultant's service, you are purchasing brainpower. The great consultant is something like a great brain surgeon. He (or she) can do the best work if supporting staff and resources are available to ensure productivity. But you can't just clone this type of talent. So you need to be wary if a big-name consultant tries to systematize, hire sales reps, and have some junior associate serve you. I would run for the hills! (Or use the consultant-author's really inexpensive books produced and mass-marketed to attract new clients. You can often purchase otherwise overpriced tapes and CDs as well on the used market -- try Ebay!)

I'm starting to build a (small) list of consultants I would recommend. I haven't used them personally, yet (but I am a publisher, not a contractor, so my needs are different) but I am satisfied they have the right combination of brains, personal integrity, and real life knowledge of the business to guide you correctly. They won't be free -- or even inexpensive -- but you'll certainly get your money's worth from them. As well, the networks in certain forums such as are invaluable -- also relevant trade associations like the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) if you are in the professional services side, or work commercial/high end stuff.

No comments: