Friday, April 11, 2014

Salespeople Need To Be On The #Manufacturing Floor

Guest post by Peter Young, Street Smart Resources

In every company I’ve worked for as a salesman, I made an effort to get to know the Operation’s VP and get myself invited to the plant floor to connect with the line guys. Depending on the amount of “silos” in the company, I usually had no problems, although in one or two instances I had to do it on the sly.

How? Beginning with my opening question, “How close to capacity are you running?” would move us into a nice conversation about capabilities and concerns. (If your salespeople don’t have the answers to those "C" questions (capability, capacity and concern), someone isn’t doing their job.) For their part, they liked to hear about what was going on out in the real world of the market and the customer.

I’ve even done product cuttings with the competition’s product for the guys on the line to show what a great job they were doing or to bring to their attention any issues a customer might have mentioned during a call. Cuttings also have the added benefit of showing, in a subtle way, that the item they shipped didn’t just slip into never never land but went to real customers and had to compete with real products.

Fact is, if you’re in sales, a relationship with the guys who move and make the product you sell gives you a real edge out in the street.

The real payoff came when I managed to convince a big prospect to come and do a plant tour. Although they would have scoffed at the idea, most operations guys I’ve met are superb salespeople.  By nature they are problem solvers, give them a hint of a puzzle and they’re on it like a duck on a June bug.  All I had to do was facilitate,  a few nudges here and there to get the customer to open their problem/wish list was all it took to engage the plant guys, and soon everybody soon had their heads together discussing solutions.
More often than not we got the order and usually a long term customer.

How often are you on the shop floor getting to know the people who make the product that you're selling?

Note: Give Dave Senkfor a call if you want to discussing your manufacturing consulting needs or are interested in learning more about the Senkfor System. 

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