My last post in this series was about Sales Managers As Desk Jockeys. This post takes up and extends the idea about sales and other corporate executives, being disconnected from the worlds of their sales people and customers.
Not long ago, I was speaking to an outstanding Sales Executive. We happened to be speaking about the Sales Manager Survival Guide. He was reflecting on how it reminded him of many challenges front line sales managers face. He talked about how easy it is, as a sales executive, to get disconnected with the “real worlds of front line sales managers and sales people.”
This particular executive didn’t really have to worry about being disconnected, he spent huge amounts of time with sales people, making calls on customers. Unfortunately, this is a rarity.
Too many managers and executives are totally disconnected with what their sales people do every day. They may be trapped behind their desks analyzing reports. They may be in endless, “strategy” meetings with others in the organization.
Ask top executive, both in sales and on the top management team, when they last went on a sales call, or when they last visited a customer. The answers are astounding, for some it’s been years!
Too many are distracted by the “needs of the business.” But the needs of the business, the growth of the business is about finding customers, serving them, and growing the business. To become disconnected from customers and sales people results in becoming disconnected with what’s going on in the markets. How can grow if we aren’t talking to customers and the people that work with them every day?
Frankly, too many are afraid to visit customers with sales people. They may challenge us, they may disagree, they may not be as “enchanted” with us and our companies as we are–it’s a harsh but critical reality check.
Sometimes, executives think they have engaged customers. They are ushered into a customer event, they may shake hands with a few customers, they do a presentation–dazzling the customer with great charts and slides, then quickly leave, seeking the shelter of internal meetings.
Without spending time with sales people and customers we become disconnected with what’s happening in the business. While people may be providing us reports and insights, these tend to be sterile and distant. Reality comes crashing in when we actually see customers and experience things for ourselves.
When’s the last time you went out in the field with sales people, or listened in on a phone call? When’s the last time you got engaged in listening and learning from them? If it’s more than 30 days, it’s far too long!