In sales the primary focus is always about “closing business” …rightfully so, because that is the lifeblood of any organization. Having said that, it is possible to be “brilliant” at “closing business” BUT still a liability to your company!
Sounds counter-intuitive, but here are some examples …
1. If you sell something and the client doesn’t pay you … then you are worse off than not selling it at all. Your company incurs all the costs associated with delivering, but does not get paid.
How can that happen?
a. You circumvent a client’s procurement process.
b. The client is not solvent and you bypass your own company’s qualification process.
c. You screw up the paperwork such that the client doesn’t get billed, (big clients lose paperwork too … if you send it to the wrong place). Try billing a “system integrator” for work done on a project after the project is ended and all of the accounting is done!
2. Your attention to detail is so bad that your company doesn’t make any money on the deal.
a. You negotiate multiple levels of discount into a deal … resulting in zero margin at the top end! Crazy as it sounds I have seen procurement try to get there!
b. You mess up the legal paperwork and your company ends up paying out the equivalent of the margin in legal fees to protect themselves.
c. You cause such a mess in paperwork that multiple senior managers and executives need to devote their time to cleaning up your mess.
Don’t get me wrong … I’m a sales guy and I understand that sales people are not always the best at paperwork and process. HOWEVER … your company has checks and balances in place for a reason and if you don’t “play by the rules” it will eventually bite you.
Some other things salespeople “forget” … or don’t place enough value on!
1. Salespeople can’t do anything without the “delivery” side of the shop … treat them well.
2. Developing relationships internally (the same way you do with clients) will go a long way to helping with many other potential issues. Buy the donuts/flowers/chocolates for the support staff, proposals, accounting etc.
3. Set aside time to get the “little things done” … at least you think they are little, but when you don’t get them done you cause a lot of grief for those around you.
4. If you display the “big ego” when you are having success, people will take great delight in your fall … which is inevitable at some point.
So, the lesson here is … focus on the selling and the close BUT (a) bad deals are BAD deals (very profound) and (b) look after the people who help you to be successful!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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