All of these adages about the importance of sales apply to our industry too. Every scaffolding company depends on sales to drive their business. So it matters how you manage your sales team. It may be tempting to assign their territories or customers, and simply leave them alone to do what they do, and that approach might work for a while. But eventually, your sales reps will either hit a wall, or become satisfied and complacent. Either way, the growth and profitability of your company will suffer.
The life blood of any business is sales. Sales makes the business world go 'round. Nothing happens until somebody sells something.
Put. That. Coffee. Down. Coffee's for closers. Only Closers. ABC... Always Be Closing.
- Glengarry Glen Ross
There is a way to avoid all of that. There is a way to work with your sales team without interfering, or micro-managing them. Institute these simple procedures to manage your sales team:
Designate a Sales Manager – it could be you, but whoever it is has to be accountable for the team. Work closely with the sales manager, and minimize direct management interaction with his team. Doing so weakens your manager’s authority.
Weekly Sales Meetings – no more than 30 minutes, discuss the status of pending bids, upcoming jobs to bid, and competitive activity. Call-in attendance is fine once in a while, but an actual in-person meeting is always preferable. Body language and eye contact are valuable management tools.
Require Call Reports – I know how sales reps react when required to submit call reports. But in most cases, they aren’t independent contractors, they’re employees, and it is entirely appropriate and necessary for you to keep track of what your sales reps are doing. If you’re afraid to lose a sales rep as a result of instituting a call report policy, you have a problem. You are not really running your business, your sales reps are. Keep the reports simple, and easy to prepare/submit, but make it a requirement. Don’t back down.
Use a Bid Log – This is a simple running list of every bid or quote (over a minimum amount like $5,000). Use it to feed your backlog or pipeline report, and to drive follow-ups with customers.
Bid Documentation - Require all bids or quotations to be documented on a standard one page form. The form should include basic job, customer, contact, and pricing info. Attach notes, and put into a job file.
Pricing Guidance – Provide your sales team with pricing limits they can use without prior approval. It isn’t efficient or effective to require them to get your approval on every deal. Set bottom lines on the metrics they use to develop their bids: labor rate, production rate (i.e. frames per m-h), rental rates, sales of equipment, delivery/pick-up, etc.