Dear employer, especially this December, remember that the salesperson isn’t one who merely sells the product or service. That’s an archaic way of defining the profession. The world has dramatically moved from the days when the only source of digital information for Kenyans was VoK. The 21st C prospects have become wiser and the market boasts many players. Modern salespeople are points of contact in sales. A point of contact implies touch, feel, hold. With these in mind emotional aspects, human interaction and socialization come into play. And they should; because that’s where sustainable exchange of goods and services for money happens. Looking at the salesperson as the point of contact, away from the staff member who sells, opens up a whole new world for the employer and the salesperson.
The importance of points of contact in sales
For the employer, his bottom line is only as strong as his frontline. And his frontline is manned by his sales force; his frontline is his point of contact with the only stakeholder, in the many in his business, who actually shows him the money. This stakeholder is the customer (prospective and existing). It therefore defeats all logic to invest heavily in space, décor and equipment to attract the numbers and totally ignore to invest in the salesperson who will ultimately perpetuate or destroy the already lofty perception the customer has of your service. If you are in hospitality (say, hotel) or entertainment (say, pub) think about that for a moment.
What is an example of a point of contact?
I give a lot of credit to the CEO of a renowned travel agency who has found a way to freely (yet respectfully) interact with his drivers. “I have an aggressive open-door policy,” he says. “And when I don’t see a particular driver for a while, I’ll go check on him at their bay to find out how he is doing.” You see, he knows his brochures, website and marketing campaigns don’t sell; that they are only as good as the experience the tourist says he had with the driver in the Mara, for instance. And so the CEO has found a way to get raw data of the tourist experience and driver’s professional health. He knows well on which side his bread is buttered.
Points on contact between customer, company and salesperson
Unfortunately, there is a tendency by some employers to see the salesperson as belonging to the bottom of the food chain. It doesn’t help matters when the salesperson accepts this position. This self-perception is extended to the salesperson-customer interaction and another sale is lost, even if the product is superior. A furniture shop along Mombasa Road with ample floor space, imported goods and a tainted salesperson exemplified this recently. It was my second visit one year apart and the indifference was intact. My business partner, finally said, “Let’s just go to the other one we’d been too first; the furniture may not be as premium but at least there was rapport from the saleslady.” And so we did and a sale was lost.
Roles and responsibilities
Now then. For the salesperson, seeing himself as a point of contact changes the whole ball game. It means he is in the frontline; he takes the bullets, staggers but keeps on fighting. As a point of contact he most times acknowledges that there will be instances when there is dirty linen that needs cleaning but gives the sanitized version to the prospect. He does not speak ill nor down his employer. The point of contact is where first impressions are made by the prospect and extrapolated to the service expected. If they don’t buy the salesperson, they are unlikely to do so the product.
Disempowered points of contact in sales are live wires
It matters therefore that you, the salesperson, handle this serious responsibility; you cannot see yourself as being at the bottom of the food chain. Points of contact in sales cannot do this. And you are a point of contact, not just the one that sells. You are expected to be knowledgeable and friendly on the one hand but on the other, especially when under intense pressure, be courageous enough to say, “I don’t know but will get back to you with the information.” And do so. Evolve with the client. That means constantly learn new things. Contact translates to touch, feel and hold. These are emotive and delicate senses and they come with the territory. Both employer and salesperson must handle them with the gravity they deserve.
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