Hey Kelly – The 'Anyone But Him' Episode
This week’s topic is something I suspect all sales managers and owners have had to deal with at one time or another, and that some of you might have had some personal experience with.
The client and the salesperson just don’t gel well. In fact the client says they don’t want to deal with him anymore. There is an implied "or else" there. YIKES!
You are stuck between knowing that any change will have a negative effect on the salesperson’s paycheck, but not wanting to rock the boat with a client, who, let’s face it, helps pay the bills.
Without getting into the nuances of any given situation, here are a few things you can consider doing to keep everyone in this situation as satisfied as possible.
1. Be honest. The salesperson needs to be aware of what the client has said; if only so that he can use it as a moment of self reflection to improve an aspect of his own performance. If the client says he is too abrasive or doesn’t listen, I would hope that this would cause that person to really examine his behavior and look for an opportunity to improve.
a. But who am I kidding? Most people are not blessed with that kind of self awareness, and they will likely be defensive and come up with reasons why the client is crazy.
2. Be fair. Because see above. It is entirely possible that the truth lies somewhere between your salesperson being at fault and the client being crazy. And, in the spirit of fairness, if you do decide to remove the salesperson from the account, is there an equivalent house account you can assign to him so he doesn’t suffer financially?
3. Look at this situation as a whole. Is this an isolated incident? Have there been other cases where a criticism has been made regarding the same person? And what have you done about it? What coaching can you offer to this person to help them improve? Be as specific as you possibly can so that the person really understands what the situation is. Are there other behaviors you or other colleagues have observed that seem to be off-putting?
a. In the same spirit as being honest, it’s time to get honest with yourself. Is this situation likely to get better? If this is something you have been dealing with for some time, perhaps it is time to ask yourself the dreaded question, "Is this person still right for this organization in this role?" I have seen some cases in which a person would have better served as an estimator or some other support role, but that sales was simply not the right fit for their personality.
Sales is tough. It requires incredible listening skills, empathy, and kindness while also requiring someone to resist put offs and to be rather aggressive and direct with their speech. The margin for error is great. Nobody is perfect and individual styles vary greatly. Individuality should be celebrated and encouraged as much as is humanly possible. But your clients are gold. No one can afford to lose business because they weren’t listening and were unwilling to make a change when it was really needed.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.