The progressive salesperson’s reputation is more important to him than that of the organization he represents. It is why customers still call him for assistance even after he leaves. To help us understand this better, let’s look at three scenarios.
The Aggrieved Salesperson
A salesperson may feel aggrieved because the employer has dragged payment of his commissions or refused to pay; or, because his airtime allowance has been halved for no apparent reason to him; or, it could also be that he knows customers are repeatedly shortchanged by his employer. Whatever the reason, the progressive salesperson does not let it show in the face of customers. It is true that a salesperson can malign his employer or product as a way of getting back at him. What is also true is that, genuine or not, the maligning is rarely interpreted as intended. Instead, what buyers hear is not that your company is the big bad wolf, but that you are the queen of gossip and an ingrate. It’s much like when an interviewee is asked, ‘So why do you want to leave your employer?” The unwise candidate says, “Because they steal from clients. In fact, they even short changed us of our airtime.” The wise one responds, “I’m grateful to Kampuni for the opportunity to grow and learn. The opportunity this job I seek offers me, is outside the scope Kampuni offers. For instance, you not only deal with retail buyers but corporate too.”
The Exiting Salesperson
It is because his reputation comes first that the progressive salesperson handles his exit with wisdom. He knows that good bye is another customer interaction offering an investment to future sales. When he must leave his employer, it matters to him that his customers hear about his exit from him. He prepares for it. He will explain it to them face to face, and for those he cannot, he will call or email. It also matters to him that they are not left hanging. And so, the departing salesperson carefully chooses whom to hand over his customers too. He could spend a week, even a month, visiting customers, closing any loose ends, introducing them to their new point of contact and letting them know where his next stop is; and if there is a conflict of interest in the revelation, as there would be, say, if he is leaving for the competition, he will respond, “I’m not at liberty to say right now.” Though she was not ‘exiting’,I was impressed one morning, when the lady who carries my son to school, called to let me know that her van had broken down, and to expect someone else, but not to worry, she vouched for him and would let me know when my son arrived at school.
The Buck Stops Here
It is because he knows the sale and its sustainability revolve around him that the progressive salesperson positions himself as the first and only line of defence. He does not pass the buck. Most sales involve a back office to complete them. Whether it is to open the account, order and install the lift or follow up on payment, the salesperson knows all these interactions may not involve him directly but directly affect him. This means managing a fine balancing act between science and art. Selling is an art; back office work (processes) is a science. When the account must be opened before cutoff date by payroll the following day, art says, “Ok. We’ll do it” Science laments, “Agh! You know it takes four days to open the account.” Likewise, the processes aren’t an exact science either and will sometimes fail, much to the anger of the customer. The salesperson does not shy away from this; he apologizes and offers a solution to the customer. To balance the two, the progressive salesperson sells internally as well as externally. He shares marketing goodies with back office and will cover their errors for them-he knows the time will come when the favour will be returned.
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