You are Mike Hunt
Question: You are Mike Hunt - You are Mike Hunt introduction. How would you measure a salesperson’s territory management and his or her relationship with a customer?
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Whether a salesperson is managing effectively his territory or not can be observed by the sales figures for a particular period, like a month. The number of calls made by the salesperson is not the only barometer whether he is moving in his territory. What is important is the quality of sales calls made as shown by orders taken from customers.
Another tool to measure how the salesperson has covered his area can be observed by the volume of repeat orders. This means he or she has visited again his customers with the repeat purchases recorded or made by the salesperson.
A third tool could be actual visit with your salesperson’s customers to check whether his or her reports of the number of times he or she has made sales calls. You don’t have to meet personally the customer. You can observe from far to see whether your salesmen are on their toes. Or you may meet your sales personnel’s customers by telling them you are only dropping by to say hello and check if there are other orders missed by your sales personnel.
The complaint from customers could not be made the main barometer as to the quality of the visits made by your sales personnel. A complaint or two from a particular customer needs attention or checking but the complaint may be not real but only imagined complaint. The volume of sales –and if it is increasing—proves that the complaints were superficial since they are still buying again or making repeat orders despite some complaints.
Another way to measure your sales personnel relationship with customers is to make random survey among your customers in a particular territory. It could be a company sponsored survey in order not to get unfavorable reaction from your sales personnel. Complaints from customers be noted then confront your sales personnel to get their side of the complaints. You don’t have to listen only to the customers. But, when things get hot, you have to consider the welfare of your customer first. You don’t have to lose a customer or a salesperson. There could be ways to satisfy the customer at the same time keep your best sales personnel.
Or you may get an independent auditors. An independent sales audit to be done by an agency could be the best objective way of handling or measuring the effectiveness of your sales personnel. Meetings are not the solutions. If your are in marketing busineness you have to be in the field every day not inside conference rooms and creating committees to audit. As a sales manager you have to be dicisive, as I mentioned above. Be on the field and feel the situation first hand. As a sales manager you don’t have top act like a tour planner but more of a tour guide. You have to be with your sales personnel in the field not inside your air conditioned office on Times Street in New York. You have to be where the action is. Leadership by objective is good. But leadership by example is even better.
2. Mike has asked you to come in and explain the strengths and weaknesses of objective versus subjective measures for territory management and relationship with customers. What would you say?
As a salesperson I would tell Mike Hunt that objective measures for territory management should be considered more than subjective measures because the first could be observed by the number of orders taken from the customers.
Under objective measurement you cannot make excuses but of course outside factors should be considered in studying the sales reports or sales calls figures. Its weakness, however, is that you can bloat the figures and convince Mike that you really made such number of calls. You can invent names and addresses that would be difficult for Mike to double check. It would be hard for him to double check the figures because of the wide territory covered. Another weakness is that you can present figures of the number of calls although those did not result to sales. But from the records it could be seen that you are really covering your territory based on the reports.
On the other hand subjective measurements have more of its weaknesses than its strengths. A complaint from a customer could be imagined. As reported that the salesperson was not making enough calls could be one-sided. The reason that the customer want to see the salesperson more often could be more on personal reasons—that the customer like the salesperson, or that the customer wants to talk with somebody oftentimes or that every time the salesperson visited the customer he is bringing with him some freebies or promo items that the customer like.
The complaints should not be used as the barometer that a salesperson was not doing his job. The salesperson could have his reason for the infrequent visits—like climate, traffic, breakdown of his car, no stock available that the customer wanted, and other myriads of real reasons or even family problems like sickness in his family which the salesperson did not report to his manager.
Another weakness of the subjective measure is that it could be the result of interoffice politics. Somebody—a co-worker—could have invented some complaints and they reached the manager using names of customers. Problems on the field come unexpectedly and the salesperson has not bothered to report small problems in the field.
Another weakness of a territory is that you have to cover an area. You have to tell Mike that the concept of territory is an outmoded one. The territory should not be defined as a geographical jurisdiction but as to the number of related accounts. You may be crisscrossing each other’s area but not necessarily particular accounts since you will be designated not as territory manager but as accounts executives. You have to handle accounts not territory. I have to tell Mike that there is the need to overall the concept of territory particularly in this world of cybercorporation where each unit in the field can function independently.
We have telemarketing or cybermarketing where you have to meet your customers on the cyberspace not necessarily face to face. I would tell Mike now is the time to overall the marketing organization to fit with the needs of the times. The designation maybe different since each sales person would cover not a geographical area but a group of accounts.
For example industrial accounts would be assigned to a particular sales person, supermarket accounts would be handled by another, and so on and so forth.
Another thing I have to tell Mike is that to maintain better relationship with customers I would suggest to him that somebody would make personal visit to a particular customer to get the order and there would be another from the office to make after-sales visits to verify orders and to provide support services like in-store promotion or to assist customers in their company activities to strengthen the relationship between the customer and the company.
I believe that a new marketing concept of marketing orientation should be inculcated in the minds of the sales personnel. That they are not selling goods or foods but they are providing solutions—and big profits—to their customers. That the work starts with the customer and ends only when the customer is satisfied and that he is about to put another order. Unless there is a repeat purchase, the work of the sales personnel is not yet completed.