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Coleby Nicholson
Coleby Nicholson


Too many businesses attempt to increase sales when they aren’t even handling the ones they’ve got, says COLEBY NICHOLSON.
I receive lots of phone calls and emails from people wanting my advice, my help, or information about the Australian jewellery industry. I’m always happy to assist, but most of the time I can’t, because the information either doesn’t exist or it’s outside my area of expertise.

Boy, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked, “Do you know a good sales rep looking for a job?” I’d be a very rich man sitting on beach somewhere, and I wouldn’t have to write this column for you each month!

In fact, just before Christmas, two people contacted me on the same day looking for a sales rep. The following day, a third person asked about a salesperson. My answer is invariably always, “No”, and before they have a chance to reply I add, “If they’re a good sales rep, they already have a job!”

The irony of my answer is not lost on the questioner, and they usually reply, “Oh yeah, right!”

I learned a long time ago that the person you want to employ is not the one looking for a job. “Good sales reps are rare,” I often say, “and when they are good, everyone wants them.” I usually get agreement on that point too.

Another issue I have when asked to refer a person for a job is to ask myself whether I would actually employ them. If I wouldn’t, then I could never refer them to someone else. Consequently, I make very few referrals.

Indeed, over the years and across a number of businesses, I have often found that our best salesperson is actually the one working for our competitor!

But back to the issue at hand – it may have just been a coincidence that I had three conversations in two days with people looking for sales staff, but it got me thinking about why I’m never asked if I know a good customer service manager. I’m only asked about sales reps. Surely a good customer service manager is just as important as a good sales rep – more important even, as maintaining customers can be cheaper and more profitable than finding new ones, I would have thought.

Still, based on the queries I receive, no one seems to be looking for good customer service managers. Maybe they think I only know sales reps and don’t bother asking me about other positions. It’s almost like I have a sign on my back: 1800 SALES REP

Then I get to thinking, “Why does this person need a good sales rep anyway? What happened to their last one and why did they leave?” The cynic in me would say that it might be because the company doesn’t have a good customer service manager – the rep got the sales but they were lost because of poor customer service.

Anyway, I don’t really know, but I often hear retailers comment about suppliers. “X’s product is great and it really sells, but their customer service and delivery is appalling,” is a common statement.

Too many businesses attempt to increase sales when they aren’t even handling the ones they’ve got. (Refer my February column: Bonsai Buddhism) After all, you can’t sell what you ain’t got and if the sales rep is taking your orders but you ain’t getting delivery then you’re losing your customers!

More emphasis should be put on nurturing and growing sales amongst existing customers. Excellent customer service goes a long way to achieving that and the added benefit in this approach is that it also makes it harder for your competitors to compete with you. But if your supplier ain’t delivering, ask them to employ a customer service manager.

Before I go, I’m going to leave you with another observation. It’s not an original one of mine, but a great one nevertheless: don’t criticise your competitor; you might find yourself working for them one day!

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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019 05:09pm
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