One of the most valuable things I do for companies is help them keep their salespeople focused and on track toward meeting their sales goals. That’s not always an easy thing to do. Speaking from experience, I know that most field sellers are easily distracted. They’re often OK with getting involved in activities other than selling, because it’s easier than calling on growers. But when they’re expected to achieve sales goals, they need as much time with growers as possible.

However, there are times of year, like right now, when it becomes especially hard for field sellers to stay focused on the only job that matters — being with customers. There are so many other duties they’re expected to do that take them away from their important mission of maximizing sales.

Nothing happens inside any company until someone writes an order. Yet so many managers ask their field sellers to do other jobs outside of selling. But when managers finally decide to stop trying to grow their businesses by using the “bottom line” as their compass and, instead, allow a full-time committed sales force to maximize “customer contact,” they will be able to afford all the extra manpower they need.

It’s a lot cheaper to hire someone else to run the plant, deliver products, operate applicators, and so on, than it is to take a salesperson away from the company’s most profitable duty — being with customers. For example, sales rep after sales rep tells me they don’t have time to be at their customers’ planters in the spring because they have so many other duties.

They don’t have time to conduct the No. 1 most important customer contact of the entire selling season — the planter visit. There’s NOTHING more important than being at a customer’s planter or drill for 10 minutes in the spring. Reps need to be there to make sure their products are being planted properly and ensure success for both themselves and their customers. It’s the time when reps set the date to do their growers’ cropping plans during the summer and take the farmer out of the Ag Cycle. At that point, the grower is no longer on his own schedule — he’s now operating according to the company’s schedule.

How would it change your business if half of your customers developed their cropping plans for the next year prior to harvest? Companies wouldn’t need all that extra manpower during their so-called crunch time in the spring. Company leaders need to wake up and help their field sellers stay focused on staying in contact with customers. They don’t need more distractions that take them away from customer contacts. They can come up with plenty of them on their own.

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