When Sales Account Managers Go Missing

Written 2014-03-13 by Chris Bianchet

If you want to get a quick response from your account manager, then we all know what we have to do:

Just call them up and tell then you are ready to buy something.

I think it is something in their DNA, but when clients are in the pre-buy cycle, sales people are the most responsive people on the planet.  They start doing things that nobody does anymore like answering their phone and responding to emails within minutes rather than days.

On the other hand, if you want to know how to prevent a sales person from calling you back, just buy your next project from them and then call them during the installation and tell them you are having an issue.

Like clockwork they will take these messages and emails and put them in the hands of someone in tech services and then “Poof,” they vanish.

I know it sounds like I’m being a bit hard on sales people and to some extent that is because I am, but I also partially (a big part) blame management for this as well, and here is why…

We push our sales people so hard to focus on getting the next sale that they have become wired to work in a way that only responds to the opportunity immediately in front of them.  The good news is this is in a way good time management; the bad news is they are going to cause customer attrition in time because customers leave when they aren’t taken care of.

Leaving Customers In The Hands of Technical Resources

In the business we are in, there are the same sales cycles as most other technical and construction sales.  There is the pre-sale work such as fact-finding, bid/scope determination and presentation and then there is the post-sale work such as cable pull, hardware installation, testing and delivery.

What is so interesting as an outside contractor that performs installation services for a number of integrators around the country is just how willing most sales people are to exit the project after the pre-sale phase is over.

Granted, most companies have roles like project managers, service technicians and installers that are out in front of customers on a day in day out basis after a project is signed off on, but none of those roles, even the project manager is a traditional “Relationship Manager.”

In today’s business world, customers continue to work with a supplier far more often because of good customer service than even the products they sell.  Customers are actually about 4x more likely to leave because of bad customer service than a product issue and in our business the products are usually so similar it is all about the service.  Begging the question:

Why do sales people vanish when the work is really just beginning?

Perhaps it is an old world-new world approach to selling and the full effect of non-involvement hasn’t been felt yet, but I think to some extent this shift needs to start with management and find its way to the desk of sales.

During a project, technical resources whether in house or outsourced need to be able to focus on the work at hand.  Project managers, can cushion between project and customer needs, but when it comes to the relationship, sales needs to be present and this is more important than ever.

Now is the time where companies can set themselves apart by having professional sales that understand the value of account management from start to finish on a job.  And yes, I realize it may limit the next sale, but just think how much it will cost to find the replacement for the customer you just lost because you only went half way?