GPI 261 – Ask your customers’ buyers if they are getting good service from you.

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Ask the customer if he is getting service or not.  Have the sales manager (someone different than the normal representative) call the client’s main buyer and ask for a meeting in person for fifteen minutes.  It does not take long to ask them bluntly if he/she is getting good service from your firm’s representatives.  Ask bluntly and encourage honesty and reward it if necessary.

Follow-up this question periodically because things change.  Do this minimally every quarter, six months or at the absolute minimum, once per year.  You need to understand if your representatives are standing in the way of a client’s sales growth and you can determine this by asking.  Give the buyer the option to call anytime he wishes in order to complain, get something resolved that is bothering him or to request a change in assigned representatives. Even if the client is not interested, he will appreciate the open offer.

Schedule these meetings with the customers’ buyers alone at least once per year.  With an assurance that the meeting will only be positive and helpful, the buyer should be encouraged to complain, express concern or even ask for a potential replacement to be assigned to his account.

Let the buyer talk; ask him to make requests or make suggestions.  The sales manager should listen and pay attention to his department’s deficiencies and more importantly, listen to the buyer’s requests.  It is more important to retain this company sales account than worry about hurt feelings.  Not all people get along and not all sales representatives get along with customers.  The current sales representative may very well be better suited with other customers.

Take these actions to ensure clients are happy.  Do not assume clients are content with their representative just because you hear nothing from them.  Scheduling these meetings gives the buyers an opportunity to vent and complain to someone different that can make a difference right away.  Talk to these customers without the assigned representatives to ensure frank and honest reactions and comments.  Only in person will the sales manager detect a real sense of satisfaction or disappointment from the buyers.

Have the sales representatives themselves encourage the buyers to schedule this meeting.  If your sales representatives tell their buyers that this meeting may occur and that the representatives welcome this private feedback about their individual performance.  Have the sales representatives tell the buyers that these meetings are part of their training program and that there are no ill feelings for anything mentioned.

Smart representatives want feedback to land more accounts and make more money.  In fact, the representatives want blunt comments in order to land more accounts.  State emphatically that the company wants the customer to be happy and that this feedback ensures good constructive criticism and positive response.  The buyers upon hearing this will be impressed if not somewhat surprised.

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