Time-and-time-again, I hear sales professionals spouting on about how the sales process today is a two-way street where the customer and seller combine to solve a solution.
They also bang on about customer retention as the way forward – well, I’ve seem precious little attempt to invest much time in keeping my custom as the EA to a multinational FTSE250 organisation!
I always find it mind-boggling that, in these straitened times, many sales people still just put their efforts into getting the deal and then running for the hills! Why, oh why, do they not stick around to make sure that things run smoothly because, surely, repeat business is far easier than prospecting for a new sale?
To give you an example, we recently tendered for a new travel management company. While we are not a huge account, a spend of about £1.5M a year is not to be sniffed at in the current climate. Lots of companies tendered and we eventually went with an organisation that offered amazing rates, fantastic customer service and all backed-up with watertight contractual service level agreements (SLAs).
The transfer to the new company was complex and not easy, taking a long time and, if I am honest, doubts over the professionalism of this outfit began rearing their ugly heads even during this initial set-up process. Yet, I persevered until we were eventually able to go live with the new handler.
However, after all the effort on our part to compromise and modify our processes and working practices to suit the new supplier, the service we have received has been appalling – I mean, really truly awful, clearly in breach of agreed SLAs and, at times, even laughable were it not for all the grief it has given several members of my staff!
One case in point involved my finance director’s trip to Indonesia where tropical storms dictated that he had to take a roundabout set of flights back to the UK via Russia and then Frankfurt. While waiting in Frankfurt for an early evening flight, snow started falling heavily and flights began getting cancelled left right and centre. The few remaining seats on aircraft that would be flying rapidly got filled yet our new travel company insisted that our director stay at the terminal to be told what flight they could get him on. Of course, by 1am the following morning it was clear they had not sourced a seat and didn’t even have the good grace to contact him. So muggins gets woken up at well gone midnight GMT with a desperately tired, angry frustrated director on the line and it took another hour and a half to sort him out with overnight accommodation and a guaranteed flight home in the morning - all at enormous expense!
So, now we are in a place where I am retendering and, while I have been doing this, I have tried on numerous occasions to make contact with the sales guy who made all those tall promises but he simply was not interested, believing I would not move provider because of all the extra hard work this would take.
Well, if he’s reading this, trust me, I’m not getting woken up in the early hours of a Sunday morning over one of your company’s screw-ups again!
But, surely, if you have sold a product into a company, is it not your responsibility to make sure the product is delivered?