GPI 278 – Help your sales reps tell you about your market; give them each the entire customer list.

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Nearly all companies have sales representatives and nearly all of those firms publish and pass out some type of sales report on a regular basis to each of the sales personnel.  Many of those companies make the mistake of sending Sales Rep A only those customers that are assigned to him.  They do not think of allowing him to see all of the company’s customers located in other representatives’ territories.  This may be a big mistake given the type of industry and closeness of some of these industry colleagues and acquaintances.

Give all sales reps all sales reports.  One simple practice your firm can start doing today is copying all of the sales reports to all of your representatives, even if only once a month or quarter.  This may or may not work in your business but it is worth considering.

Ask for sales rep feedback after report distribution.   Ask for comments and request notifications of any missing new, potential, customers for sales leads, regardless of where they are located.  Let everyone know everything about everybody to whom the company is selling.  Do not keep it quiet.

Let everyone know who is selling but more importantly, who is not selling.  Do not regard the sales reports as confidential.  Share sales successes among the entire group and watch unknown relationships come out of this revelation.  There are several reasons why you should do this and very few reasons why not to.  Here are a few.

Reasons to publish your sales listing to all reps:

  • Customer branches:  Your reps may have territorial boundaries which cut them off from some other related customer branches.  One of your representatives may be selling to a firm and other reps do not seem to be able to break the selling barrier.  Once those other reps know that customer is buying and placing sizeable orders in one store or branch or warehouse, they have a solid and valid lead-in for getting in to see and sell to a branch in their territory.  They can mention, “Your branch in Smallville is ordering $50K per month at good discount rates.  Why don’t you let me try to get you these discounted prices?  I will be very surprised if I cannot save you some money given that your firm is buying from us elsewhere.” Remember that this knowledge would never be known without the sharing all the sales reports.
  • Unknown related customers:  Many companies do not contain the parent name so there may be companies related to branches which are doing business with your firm already.  Some of your personnel may know of these, which will immediately increase information and provide new sales opportunities for cross selling.  You will want to tie related companies together in your database so you can see just how much business you are doing with everyone.  They know; you do not.
  • Missing customers:  Some representatives may recognize missing potential customers in another’s territory and ask, “Where is “ABC Company on your list?  Someone dropped the ball in marketing.  Those buyers there in that office order for many facilities.  You should go see those guys right away.  Ignore that the firm is not on your list.  Go see them anyway.” Missing customers should be requested every time a sales report gets distributed.  The market changes and the reports need to reflect the increase in opportunities.
  • Unknown potential connections:  One representative may know someone that works at another representative’s firm and provide the unknown lead that the sales representative needs to make the cold call.  Common acquaintances many times provide just the right trigger to get a buyer to accept a sales call.
  • Swapping customers:  Your reps may have specific information about a firm in another territory that the assigned representative would like to know in order to increase sales.  Once they begin speaking to each other, sharing information and reviewing each other’s lists, they will build each other’s territory.  If they wish to pay each other for leads, let them.  You want their cooperation.  If they wish to switch customers, let them.  It is irrelevant who the customers like; it is only important that your firm get the sale.
  • Representative knowledge:  One rep may know more about one firm from past experience.  You want him to pass that on to your other reps who are affected by this, so let them discuss their assignments without retribution.  You need them to work together.  Give them all of the sales reports and encourage them to discuss sales strategy.
  • Sharing bonuses:  If your representatives come up with a plan where they both to share sales incentives because they plan to work together, let them do it.  Do not let computer programming get in the way of making a sale.  Do whatever you need to do in order to increase company sales.

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