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When Sales Staff Quit, Clients Switch Over

When Sales Staff Quit, Clients Switch Over

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Published by Shridhar Lolla
Organizations struggle not only in retaining sales staff but also as a result in retaining clients. This caselet provides a direction to solution to this generic problem.
Organizations struggle not only in retaining sales staff but also as a result in retaining clients. This caselet provides a direction to solution to this generic problem.

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Published by: Shridhar Lolla on May 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Copyright © 2010, CVMark Consulting, All rights reserved.
When sales staff quit, clients switch over!
Dr. Shridhar LollaCVMark Consultinglolla@cvmark.comFebruary 2009.Visakhapatnam, INDIA(Based on discussion with Dadji, Owner of a large printing press)Owners often complain that they continue to loose clients because they loose salespeople. When sales staff leave the organization, they move out along with the clients.1.This places organization at the mercy of sales staff, 2. Sales staff do leave andorganization undergoes tremendous pressure to obtain new clients (knowing that a newclient cost more than 5 times retaining an existing client). 3. Attrition of sales staff impacts its top line and growth. The disturbances in sales lines, takes a lot of management attention, and prevents it from focusing on real issues i.e. growth.Owners also complain that sometime, sales staff over commit offer to clients and theorganization has difficulty in meeting deliveries. While the organization is able to blamethe sales staff, at the client end some thing different occurs. Upon the non-performance of orders, the unaligned sales staff, often, tend to isolate themselves from the organizationand give an impression to the client that everything is ok with the sales process but herorganization has run out of capacity or certain capabilities. Thus, for the client, theorganization becomes the scapegoat. Situation worsens when the sales staff do not shareerrors caused by organization and blame the organization for a faulty deliveries.Sales is the front end activity of the organization. A sales is actually the front line of attack for an organization. Sales staff know this, very well. In a majority of organizations, often one gets an order because of the company and more often, because of ones own skills and relationship with the clients. In several businesses, where theorganization (or its top management ) is not able to be in direct touch with the clients, therelationship is purely the relationship between the sales person and the client.The client relationship often has a degree of unpredictability in terms of performance,price , supply, returns, customer care& relationship, etc. And it is necessary to maintainthis relationship on an ongoing basis and sales staff (in some case, CRMs) do this. Withintwo or three transactions, an average sales person is able to establish a good rapport withthe client and is able to enter into her buying DNA. Not much of ones knowledge andrelationship is, though, passed onto the organization that is content with the transactionitself. In such cases, the relationship between client and the supplier in actually a thinline, while that between the sales staff and the client is a solid line. No doubt that theclients walks away when the sales staff change their organization.
Copyright © 2010, CVMark Consulting, All rights reserved.
Further sales people very much understand that organization needs them more, thanotherwise, and they tend to play the card very aptly. Remember that being in the front,everybody would want to lead and would not like to be told, what to do. And hence,there would normally be huge conflict between sales and backend operations. I do notremember an organization that does not have such conflict. In most cases, operations donot have any option but to tow down to priorities set by sales, even if sometime it doesnot make sense.So as said, if an organization looks at its sales process as merely a transaction with theclients, then clients do not see much value brought in by the organization. Rather, it findsthe value in the transaction and relationship that is built by the sales people.What is the way out?Firstly, the organization needs to understand that sales is a process and it must follow anorganizational process than an individuals skills to do sales. Most importantly, theorganization must look into its business and must relate the client relationship beyondproduct and transactions, such that the client sees value in interacting with the supplierand not just in the few front ending sales staff . What does it do then?This brings us to the basics of the business !!!The basics is that the effort of the supplier must always be to make the clients come toher and continue to come to her, now as well as in future. if that happens (establish thesolid line), then the attrition of sales people will have relatively less effect on the clientattrition.Now, the client will come to the supplier, only if she offers something that is an order of magnitude better than competitors. Which means that the supplier must build a decisivecompetitive edge that fulfils significant needs of the client. Now if this edge is built, theclients would prefer to deal with the organization and not the competitors. Moreimportantly, since the organization is known to offer an edge over others, it will alsotame the sales staff attrition; as it does not in normal circumstances, make sense for thesales staff to switch over to a weaker competitor. More over, the edge offers a booster tothe inherent capability of the sales force, that will try to build ones own capability at thetop of organizational capability than otherwise. And the sales staff will like themselvesto be recognized by the organization brand than their own (organization’s brand is alwaysstronger than individuals). That is when transformation of sales force happen and theyalign to the goals and priority of the organization; and that’s how sales force startbelieving and owning the organization. Once that happens, there is less chance of theorganization loosing clients as well as sales force.

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