I was recently invited to host a sales workshop for the Office Pride franchise organization. The event took place in Indianapolis with nearly 40 people in attendance. We covered topics ranging from marketing material and cold calling to proposals and sales compensation. However, one topic came up during the Q&A time that frequently surfaces during our events. The question is roughly this: “How involved should sales be after we close on a new account? Does their relationship with the new customer remain or is there a complete handoff to operations?”
In many organizations, sales reps function more like account managers. They are handed a book of business and then expected to continue to sell to those customers. An example of this type of sales role is pharmaceuticals. Drug reps have a group of medical practices that are “their customers” and they continue to promote existing and new medications to those doctors. In the janitorial industry, things are a bit different.
Once we land a new account, we do not need to continue to “sell” to the customer in the classical sense. Instead, we retain the contract and the relationship through quality service and meeting their expectations. The makeup of our industry, it seems to me, eliminates the need for sales reps to maintain ongoing relationships with existing customers.
The sales team at your cleaning company should have one goal: bring in new business. If they have any other goal, then they are no longer participating in sales, but rather functioning as part of the operations team. To steal a phrase from Dave Ramsey, we need our sales reps to go out, kill something, drag it home, feed the family, then go out and do it again. Any ongoing relationship with existing customers hinders a sales rep from finding new accounts.
At our organization, in order to promote this “new sales” focus, we ONLY pay commission on new accounts sold. There is no incentive, other than for a smooth account startup, for the sales rep to remain involved. Our commission plan sends the signal that we don’t want sales involved in operations. They are certainly competent to help in operations, but anytime they do, it distracts them from the way they add the most value to the organization as a whole.
So what do you think? Should sales reps be involved in ongoing customer relationships?