Companies are reporting record year over year sales increases for the most recent year. We’ve seen many that have recorded increases greater than 20% from the prior year. Congratulations to them all. Yet these same companies are frustrated with the overall composition of their sales team. Not relative to the actual individuals, rather with the roles that they are playing. Over the years, many of their reps have transitioned to an account management role. They do a phenomenal job of making sure the customer has everything they need, and that the i’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed with the work. When a new opportunity comes across the threshold, they are well prepared to capture that business and continue to grow the portfolio. What’s lacking in the business, and frustrating to the owners, is a deliberate sales effort focused on capturing new business – on purpose.
Review the CSR team
When you examine the entire client facing team, you must also revisit the structure of your customer service team. Some companies refer to these folks as project managers, or account managers, but you know them as the folks who support customers and salespeople. They work to communicate customer expectations and specifications to the plant for production and act as the liaison between the shop and the sales team. In many shops, the skill levels can vary from one CSR to another. In addition to the level of experience, the customer satisfaction mindset – and sense of urgency, can vary substantially as well.
The strength of your customer service group can either be additive, or subtractive to the selling efforts of the sales team. In a subtractive setting, the customer service group is inundated with work, most of it clerical in nature and time consuming. They don’t have time to return phone calls or emails and are typically overwhelmed. This setting requires the sales rep to be much more involved than perhaps needed. They tend to do this to protect the business. Sometimes it’s that simple. If it’s additive, it means the customer service team embraces, and owns the business. They effectively communicate with the clients and develop a strong relationship with all the people they work with. They don’t need the sales rep to be their assistant. Rather, they encourage their sales reps to just go out and sell the next new account.
Create multiple drive-thru lanes
The number of transactions continues to increase in printing companies with a mix of straightforward, repeat, and complex projects and multi-part campaigns. Some of these businesses tend to handle all the orders in the same manner, the same drive-through window if you will. Consider looking at the mix of your business and create multiple drive-through lanes – some designated for straightforward, repeat type work, while others require the time and attention that only a skilled customer service rep can give. This could pay off substantially by further allowing the CSR team to manage the customer relationship, and free up the sales rep to do what they are uniquely qualified to do – sell.
Let your sales reps sell
This issue is not new. This fundamental shift has been taking place over several years. This swing has been compounded by a pandemic, a change in how customers like to buy, and the desire to solicit more strategic accounts vs. transactional business. The fabric of most client facing teams has changed. In a different post, we discussed the role of the sales rep and a few options a company could take.
The effectiveness of the sales and client facing teams remains an ongoing concern for most sales leaders and CEOs in the Graphic Communications industry. What’s the best approach for you and your business?
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at email@example.com.
Originally published in Printing Impressions.