Death of a Salesman

My wife and I are movie buffs, and this past week we decided to watch the old classic film, “Death of a Salesman.” I can tell you, the homemade popcorn was the only highlight of watching such a depressing story. It did, however, spark an idea for this week’s blog.

I’ve heard of many a salesperson dying a slow death while working for a company that has poor quality standards, making it hard—if not impossible—to keep customers happy.

Like that old film, a salesperson’s bad experience trying to sell for such a chaotic company has a predictable and sad ending. Yet, both failings seem entirely preventable.

One of the worst things I can imagine an owner or sales manager hearing from a top salesperson is, “I quit!” In many cases, this is also entirely preventable. A wise business owner knows that providing the best possible quality and service tends to guarantee happy customers—not to mention motivated salespeople.

What are the coffin nails for a salesperson?

  • Poor quality
  • Llate deliveries
  • Orders being shorted
  • Billing errors
  • Miscommunication
  • Poor customer service
  • And, owners who don’t seem to care.

How many times have you heard of a salesperson quitting and taking his/her book of business to another company, having lost trust in the first company’s ability to satisfactorily handle a clients’ work due to the poor quality mentioned above?

Look at it from a salesperson’s point of view…

Imagine a new salesperson spending the better part of a year prospecting and finally winning the perfect client. The rep tells the buyer how great it’s going to be working with the printer since, “Quality is our middle name!”

Imagine how ecstatic the salesperson is, getting that first big order from this “perfect” client. He/she can hardly wait to turn the new job over to production, and even brags a little at the sales meeting on Monday morning.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • Sam Austin

    Great article that gives voice to every sales professionals’ nightmare scenario.