You can become a much better Salesperson if you start working with, rather than against, the Operations department. It is often not the fault of the Salesperson that unrealistic promises are being made to the customer and that customers are let down, and then Sales feel bitter. This is where communication, education and understanding are important to ensure that these unnecessary scenarios do not occur.
It is vital that the Sales Director ensures that his or her team understands the policies and procedures of the company, as well as the benefits increased communication with Operations. If they do not accept a culture of working together then the companies service levels and sense of working together will not materialise.
It also brings up the subject of recruitment and employing the right kind of person in Sales. If you can find the right team members who can adapt to this environment, then they will be very successful and reap the financial and personal benefits.
We have developed a list of requirements and attitudes, which we believe is a useful blueprint to ensure that Sales can benefit from and maximise their relationship with Operations. If you really want to set yourself apart from other salespeople, this approach is essential reading.
How to lead the way in Sales by enhancing your relationship with Operations
- Understand your route to market
- Understand what your company can achieve
- Feed back information from the customer to Sales/Operations about how you can improve on an on-going basis
- Know your customers well
- Communicate to all your customers and your colleagues
- Remember that your customer is not the only customer in the company
- Be a team player and respect other departments
- Realise that the Production and Warehouse staff are on your side and your relationship with them is important – build it and they will support you, destroy it and you will not be supported
- Understand what is involved in preparing an order, system difficulties and processes and ensure you are aware of manufacturing lead times, dispatch slots, packing time (including products that need to be assembled), transport implications and possible surcharge costs
- Considering spending some time working in the warehouse
- Be aware that the wrong kind of pressure can create errors (e.g. Warehouse staff pack without care) and more of a problem than you had in the first place
- Understand your standard lead-times and procedures and don’t make decisions that you have no basis or authority to make
- Don’t lie: ask, check and seek advice and then go back to the customer with an informed solution
- Good customers are long-term customers. Don’t over-promise so that all the stops have to be pulled out on every occasion, it will only lead to letting them down. A customer wants a reliable and trustworthy partner that keeps their promises and meets their needs
The benefits of having a close Sales and Operations team
The perfect team is a Sales group who follows through until delivery and an Operations group who supports the Sales group throughout the whole sales cycle. One team, one goal providing the following benefits:
- A company that customers view as ‘reliable & trustworthy’ and come back to
- A company which has everyone working in the same direction
- A company where people want to help and support each other and show loyalty
- A company which has fewer headaches and problems to deal with internally and can concentrate on selling and growing
- A company with quality and customer service at the heart of their culture
- A company with a structure and ethos in place that means the system will work even when people leave
- A company that knows their customers and communicates with them
- The whole company needs to find out what the needs of the customer are and then deliver it to them to give you a meaningful competitive advantage.
You can really flourish by bringing these key factors into your everyday approach, but everyone needs to support each other for short and long-term improvement. It is vital that you aim high and deliver even higher.
The challenges that Sales and Operations face need to be overcome by working together in order to meet customers’ needs.
Who should drive this change?
One person cannot make this change happen, but everyone will benefit when it does. Ideally, the Managing Director should be recognising the necessity for such an approach, but we suggest that the best way is for the Head of Sales and the Head of Operations to get together and start the process rolling.
Taking that first step is the most difficult one, and it takes more than one person to implement the change. It is advised that if you are in Sales or in Operations then consider making the first step and approach your counterpart and start the process – it is better than continuing with mistrust, conflict, stress and unhappy customers.
You will soon start to get the support to implement the culture change.
So ask not the question: ‘What can your company do for you?’ but ‘What can you do for your company?’ and the first part will fall into place. Think of others, improve for long-term and not short-term gain and you will meet customers’ expectations and enjoy your jobs with less stress and more time to concentrate on your actual job.
Pinnacle Consulting is a leading sales and marketing recruitment agency operating exclusively in the building products sector.
If you are an employer looking to recruit, please call us to discuss your requirements on 01480 405225 or us at email email@example.com