MYPRODUCT37 Red Card. The Failure of Diplomacy!

1.Situation

In MYPRODUCT35 I outlined why the sales rep does not have an ordinary 9-17 job.

I detailed that sales agent’s work is by far the most programmatic and controlled activity in a company, the monitoring tools being multiple: system gsp installed on agents’ vehicles, palm / tablet system for taking orders, professional excellence program, financial system, access cards,  target-bonus system, performance assessment system, marketing plan, activity reports (daily / weekly / monthly), expenses for travel, meetings, etc.

Sales reps benefits (salary, bonus, car etc) come with the daily routine that includes many hours in the car, in traffic, long business trips, visits to customers no matter is heat, storm or snow, professional presentation and representation, negotiations with clients for sales, delivering orders, permanent protection of the cash and payment docs, car, permanent positive attitude towards clients, availability for extended working program etc.

  1. Task

I quickly understood the particularities of salesperson’s work, I appreciated the complexity of this activity and as commercial manager I always acted to protect the commercial teams.

Here’s an example.

  1. Action

As Veteco Commercial Director many times I ran recruitment processes for sales agents.

In such a process I decided that it is appropriate to select candidates with potential even if they did not have any sales agent experience.

Consequently, I turned my attention to the fresh graduates of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

So I discovered Agent X who, although he had not worked before, impressed me in interviews by determination, desire and potentially good seller profile, reason why I hired him as a medical sales representative.

His adaptation to the direct responsibilities of the salesperson’s position was quickly done, the results of his work came quickly, thus confirming my intuition that Agent X has all the ingredients to become an excellent salesman.

The kind of agent you get out on the door and he comes back on the window and sells what he has to sell.

If with regard to the direct job Agent X performed at a higher level, at the level of interaction with colleagues from other departments, his direct and incisive approach was perceived inside the company as undiplomatic or in some cases even blunt.

In this context, tensions have been generated several times within the company focused on Agent X until a point when Agent X was ready to receive the ‘’red card’’ of exclusion from the company.

I intervened every time and I protected Agent X from the red card, pointing out that his lack of work experience in a company doubled by the exuberance of youth are the ingredients that generate his undiplomatic style.

With little patience and involvement, this behaviour will change soon so it will not generate tense situations in the relationship with colleagues from other departments.

At the same time, I had individual discussions with Agent X in order to make him aware of the need to include a dimension of diplomacy in his behaviour. The fact that he is an excellent salesman generating results places him as a valuable man for the company and commercial team, but from this position he must show understanding and good collaboration with colleagues from other departments.

And obviously to be aware that he is the only one to win or lose.

4.Results

Agent X is still working in the company, is an excellent salesman generating significant sales for the company.

His style is still incisive and straightforward, but having already many years of working behind he has gained enough experience and maturity to have a constructive approach.

 

5.Key Learnings

As I mentioned, who does not understand that the sales agent does not have a standard job 09-17, I invite him to spend a working day with an agent. Perhaps then he will be aware that the salesperson’s benefits (salary, bonuses, car, trainings, etc.) come with pressure, run, stress, customers who want more, prolonged time working etc.

And then he may show little adherence to the specific behavioural excesses that the sales agent might have.

Obviously such excesses are not excusable and must be addressed and regulated regardless of person / position.

But this is a process involving tact, diplomacy and understanding, the use of red card being the last measure, unwanted by anyone and applied only in exceptional situations.

Notification: MYPRODUCT reflects my real professional experience and expertise as well as my subjectivity. I do have a profound respect for all the companies I collaborated to and for all the people I worked with. It is not my intention to approach any sensitive, confidential or offending information related to companies, projects or people. If you the reader deduct or recognise companies, projects or people in my examples, I kindly ask you to respect MYPRODUCT and my professional and ethic approach and to not share any detail, information, situation, name, company.