Tasks undertaken by employees in sales support allow the salesperson to focus on selling

Thinking about October’s column, I remembered an experience that eventually influenced this month’s offering. At first glance the thought crossed my mind to share this occurrence under the umbrella of “customer relations.” Then the light bulb in my tiny little brain came on. First let me tell you my experience.

Many of my regular readers know that I operate a small tour/receptive business. Approached by a group leader looking for a holiday trip that’s both fun and educational, I reached out to the leading Virginia receptive operator. We worked a creative itinerary and I was seamlessly handed to operations for the contract and details.

On the surface the experience appeared to be a good customer service story. It certainly was, but if you look closer it’s much deeper. I dealt with the company’s owner/salesperson, who is the primary revenue producer. Working with her allowed me to get exactly what I wanted while minimizing the supplier’s time in non-revenue-producing activities.

That led me to the question, “How do we minimize a good salesperson’s time in anything non-selling and maximize their results?” The answer is found in a company’s sales support structure. It is the sales support team that undertakes administrative and office duties, leaving the salesperson focused on selling.

It’s fair to point out that in just about every organization there’s a salesperson who is overly involved in “sales support.” They believe it’s their responsibility to follow the order through channels until completion. They sing that tune under the banner of “customer service.” Does that representative have a lessened faith in the organization’s sales support structure? Is it an excuse for marginal or less than acceptable sales? With that said, let’s look at what encompasses good sales support.

Sales support can be defined as a job and every company should consider having that position. However, today we’re going to highlight a few duties that fall under the sales support banner. Some of the following tasks may very well be assigned to the sales support employee(s), while others may go to marketing or even operations.

  • Prospecting and lead generation are the lifeline of any business. The coordination and processing of those leads falls to the sales support system. With the advent of new demographics and special interest groups, operators are exploring new opportunities. Until those leads are received and qualified, keep salespeople doing what they do best.
  • Managing the correspondence between sales and operations. Once the supplier sales representative books a tour, it’s up to the support system to see it through. Deposits need to be collected and rooming lists and final counts obtained. The salesperson needs to focus on other opportunities.
  • Monitoring accounts and keeping track of sales targets. There’s a considerable amount of information available to an organization’s sales team. In some cases it can be information overload. A good sales support team prevents salespeople from getting lost in minute, everyday details.

Sales reports are historical documents providing a good performance overview in real time. They’re necessary. Also necessary is staying on plan with a sales strategy. If an operator didn’t have quite enough participants for that great ski trip, possibly an earlier push will get the group together this year. In a salesperson’s busy world, the support staff’s reminder may be needed.

Exactly who is responsible for the different tasks attributed to sales support? In a small company it very well might be your vice president of sales. Who would be better? On the other hand a large company may have numerous sales administrators, even an individual assigned to each salesperson. Regardless of your company’s size or product, you must have a defined sales support structure. Really, why wouldn’t you?

Remembering and executing the little details are often the difference between an organization’s success and failure. When in place a good sales support structure will make that difference.

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