Why I sacked the sales rep

The business world is filled with different kinds of sales reps who all have one thing in common: to sell stuff. 

Old-school sales reps are often quick in and eager to make a deal. They know the techniques to close a deal and then move on, but I have never met anyone who likes this approach. Ever been in the position when you’ve bought something you didn’t really need or want and walked away with a bad taste in your mouth? Or been ignored by the salesperson after they’ve realised you’re not interested in buying from them? Then you know what I’m talking about.

This kind of selling is impersonal and fleeting. It doesn’t create a consumer. A loyal customer believes in you, not just your product. The days when we did a sale and moved on are long gone so we need to let go of the traditional sales techniques and create a new template. The fact is, good sales people are problem solvers and it’s important to change the concept of the old fashioned sales reps and introduce a team of service people. Changing a title doesn’t always accomplish the goal but in this case it can accomplish a change in attitude, approach and atmosphere.

For medical device and pharma, the focus is on patient outcomes — this translates to managing customer expectations and educate the customer about the range of possible results. The device is only as good as the customer is, so education and information play an enormous role in the end result.  And then, whether it’s convenience (making it easy and reliable) or company culture (donating products to charity), customers need a compelling reason to choose you time and again. Be clear, honest and objective. Never push a sale, but focus on observing needs and match it with your offering… which is exactly why I made the decision to completely eradicate our sales team. I don’t hire sales people anymore.

In our case, we had to question how someone with a Marketing or Economics diploma could tell a doctor how to use a medical device? It makes absolutely no sense. For the team, it has been a huge change (for the better) from “Sell this product” to “Know everything there is to know about this product”.

The customer has responsibility for what product or service they buy, but also for how they use it and make the most of it. Don’t aim to ‘make a sale’. Instead, aim to inform and educate. Once you shift your focus, the entire process will transition into thinking for the future, not just for today.

Changing the mind-set and approach ultimately drives ROI because cultivating repeat customers is less time-consuming and less expensive than creating new ones. Focusing on your customer experience in every interaction increases the likelihood that people will come back.

If you want a good ROI, spend as much time and money on improving the customer experience as you would on conversion.

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