When building out your sales team, it’s important to integrate a customer service component. Vital to an organization’s sales efforts is the quality of the customer service/inside sales team. These folks:
- Process orders
- Solve problems
- Coordinate pick-ups and deliveries
- Communicate problems (e.g., out of stocks) to field sales
- Have their finger on the pulse of the business—how orders come in re: orders of new products, changes in scheduled deals, etc.
- Are often involved in updating forecasts and working with production scheduling.
When not on the phone with customers, these folks in smaller companies often double as sales support by:
- Sending out sales kits and samples
- Sending out POS and collateral materials
- Sending out t-shirts and trinkets
- Helping coordinate trade show participation
- Updating sales presentations
- Distributing sales reports and syndicated sales data
- Telemarketing, direct mail
Integration with the outside sales effort is key to having a successful sales team. These people must be valued and involved and should periodically get out in the field—either accompanying regional managers on market visits or attending key trade shows. This helps with the putting-names-to-faces process as well as to make the job more relevant.
When doing an orientation with a new broker it’s good to bring your customer service manager or person along to explain your order policies, lead times, and procedures for order POS and support materials. In addition to meeting the brokers, they can meet their counterparts in the broker’s headquarters.
DO NOT underestimate the importance of your customer service person or persons in developing your business relationships. Buyers often spend more time on the phone with the customer service department (tracking orders, adding to orders, confirming discounts,etc.) than they do with your direct sales people. Many buyers judge a company not by the competence of its sales people, but by the response they get from your customer service team. A great customer service person or department is as important (if not more important) than a good sales person. What buyer wants to do business with a company that is unresponsive to his or her needs? I don’t care how good the sales person is at getting the order. We can’t stress enough the importance of this position in your company!
This content is excerpted from the Natural Products Field Manual, Sixth Edition, The Sales Manager’s Handbook, written by Bob Burke and Rich McKelvey. To learn more about or purchase the Natural Products Field Manual, visit the Natural Products Consulting Institute website.