A Great Joint Call? Probably Not With the Boss

Here’s how the typical sales manager—salesperson joint call often goes.  First, the salesperson introduces the sales manager to the client, “I’d like you to meet my boss (name).  He has been eager to come out and say hello to my top clients…”

Then the sales manager tells the client how happy he and the company are with the salesperson, and how he hopes the salesperson is doing a good job looking after the client, as he is a very important client.  “I’m sure name is taking great care of you, but I’d like to hear from you how we’re doing.”

Then the client says a few nice things about the salesperson, “We love to have (name) come out to see us. He looks after all our needs…”  And everybody is happy so far.

Then the sales manager takes over again, and there is a “high-level” conversation about the state of the provider’s company and the state of the client’s company.  The client may ask about how today’s economy is affecting the provider’s business, or if they’re having any issues with order fulfillment.

And after a bit more small talk amid general good feeling, the sales manager thanks the client for his loyalty to the customer and says, “And if there is ever anything I can do for you please don’t hesitate to call (name of salesperson) or me.  Here’s my card.”  And they leave.

What an awful call!  No value in it whatsoever, and a waste of time for the sales manager who didn’t give his salesperson an opportunity to perform, so he could observe and coach.  I mention this because I am still getting feedback from the last newsletter and I wanted to tackle two issues that arose from it. .

First, a good friend of mine who is a great sales manager told me over the weekend that he needs to do a better job of teeing up his salespeople when he goes on joint calls. He did share one funny story however.  On one joint call his salesman got in an argument with the customer about a previous order!  My appalled friend gently tapped his salesman on the arm and said, “I got it from here.” I can only imagine what the conversation sounded like in the car after the call.

Regarding the newsletter story he added, “Did you consider that having his boss there may have made the salesperson nervous?  Maybe that’s what happened in your story.”  The answer is no I didn’t take it into consideration, but if the sales manager’s presence made the salesperson nervous, my solution is for the sales manager to go on more joint calls, as repetition and familiarity will make the nervousness go away. That was a good point however.

And here’s another. I was buying cold cuts at the supermarket deli on Saturday when another friend in line next to me said, “I didn’t think it was good coaching.  If you have a guy who has terrific talent and you don’t help him in every area where he needs to perform at a higher level, then you have not fulfilled your role as coach.  The sales manager should have been all over him!”

My response?  Yes and no.  A lot depends on what the individual needs.  Some people just don’t respond to a scolding, and my point remains that once the performer knows what he didn’t do well and what he needs to do differently, the coaching is over.

This Fable Friday I’ll come back to our discussion of leadership traits.  Meanwhile…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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