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Drawing the line

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Customers get their first impression of your company from your sales team; hence they must be courteous, efficient, and helpful to keep your business growing.

“Your sales staff are the frontline of your organization,” says Noel Aban, general manager of Commstation, retailer of telecom products with eight branches in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon. “They’re the ones providing your products or services and are in direct contact with customers, and they’re expected to be positive, caring, and responsive to their needs.”

But as important as staff-customer relations are to the growth of your company, equally significant but often less discussed is the relationship that should prevail among your sales staff. Sales managers agree that promoting friendly competition between them helps increase sales. “That makes them more productive without sacrificing the team’s objectives,” Aban says. “Friendly competition still results in teamwork, where the goal is to ensure that customers continue to receive quality service.”

To rouse your sales team’s competitive spirit, it’s a good idea to set sales quotas and offer incentives to the top sellers. Pay commissions for items sold, taking care that they’re attractive enough to motivate your staff to sell more. “This year we plan to improve these commissions further by setting a quota per month, and the commissions increase as quotas are met,” says Aban.

Still, the bid to attract more customers sometimes results in a contest that’s more cutthroat than cooperative. “Cutthroat competition only looks at one thing, and that’s getting the most number of sales possible,” says Aban. And while your sales may increase initially as a result of the tougher competition, eventually your salespeople are likely to gloss over customer service in their drive to sell more.

“To prevent competition from becoming unfriendly, we clearly state responsibilities,” says Aban. “Each Commstation branch serves only its area” [to avoid poaching], and we have a policy on how sales should be handled.”

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That policy says the salesperson approached by the customer should be the one handling the sale, and though another salesperson may help, he or she may not take over the transaction. “This encourages our salespeople to be attentive if they want to earn more commission,” Aban says.

“The most important thing is to keep your people aware that the customer’s benefit is always priority and above any competition.”

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