Exclusive Features

The Value-Added Distributor Series: 5 Ways Sales Reps are Like Soldiers

By Bridget McCrea

5 Ways Sales Reps are Like Soldiers

In Six Common Sales Myths: #1 “A Sales Person’s Job is Just to Sell”, Jerry Vieira of The QMP Group, Inc., uses military analogies to describe some of the most important tasks handled by sales reps, including:

  1. They collect and report field intelligence: Good soldiers are trained, not only to shoot, but also to observe and report on the enemy (competitors), their armaments (competitive advantages and value propositions), their location (markets and customers), and their strong points (where they have impenetrable positions – be it markets or accounts). Soldiers also report on the enemy’s weaknesses and gaps in their lines (under-serviced customers and under-served markets).
  2. They report on the effectiveness of their own and the enemy’s, weapons: The business equivalent is reporting on customer receptivity to the sales tools in use, the sales approaches, product capabilities, product reliability, product effectiveness, installation problems, quality, training problems, and a host of other relevant experiential aspects of selling, delivering, and using the product.
  3. They dig in and defend the ground already captured: In business terms they defend their current accounts through disciplined customer service and make sure they are secure.
  4. They exploit a victory, charging after a retreating enemy, or pouring through a breach: When something works in the field they use it again and again, winning repeatedly over weak competitors and landing new customers until the territory is “owned” and they must move into a “hold and defend” mode.
  5. They train: To think that basic training is all that soldiers go through is a myth. Soldiers constantly repeat their training and hone their skills to a razor’s edge. They train on new techniques, new weapons, new systems, and capturing obstacles and enemy positions in different terrains. Then they re-train on what they learned in their first training. Salespeople, sadly, might do it once a year. New sales people joining the team, may have to wait as long as 11 months before undergoing their basic training. Lack of training puts the team, the company, and the product reputation at risk.


Ready to Move that Sales Needle?

In his role as president of Chicago-based C-Suite Advantage, David Carmell works with organizations to develop strategies, identify high-value opportunities, address critical challenges, and grow their businesses and assets. Here, Carmell shares five ways that distributor sales teams can best position themselves for success:

  1. Figure out who’s giving the orders. Hierarchy and delegation are both important in today’s business world. A common complaint that Carmell hears from clients is, “All I have are order takers. Fix the problem.” His reply is usually:  Okay, but who’s actually giving the orders?” Once that critical question is answered, says Carmell, then you find out who’s really in charge and can more easily pinpoint and “fix” the problem.
  2. Determine your sales team’s commitment level. How committed are you to growing the business? “Without solid commitment and consistency,” says Carmell, “what you’re attempting will just be a waste of time.”
  3. Develop a compensation system that matches your commitment. Your sales force works for results and commissions. Does the compensation system match your commitment? Are you saying one thing but rewarding another?  If you answered yes to either or both of these questions, it’s time for a mindset change. “Get everyone on the same page and trained,” Carmell advises.
  4. Prioritize and reward appropriately. Are you outcome focused? How are you and your people spending their time? “You need to be focused on a solution,” says Carmell, “and then make sure it is prioritized and rewarded accordingly.”
  5. Solicit your sales reps for opinions.  Allow for and welcome outside input, according to Carmell, and remember that listening is a skill. “Let customers, employees, and vendors vote,” says Carmell. “These are all constituencies that need to be satisfied and can help you with the heavy lifting.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

Tagged with

Comment on the story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *