I have a sales person who I’ve been working very hard on coaching to improve her ability to get new business for our company. After investing lots of time and energy, what I’ve really come to as a final decision is that this individual is not going to make it as a hunter. Now the question is, what do I do about it? Well, one of the things I believe in is always looking for the best in people and looking to play to their strengths. This particular sales person is an outstanding troubleshooter, problem solver, and a champion to the customer. She is also a very good relationship builder and has an uncanny ability to help our organization to mobilize itself in order to solve customer problems when they do arise. What better role for this person than a job as an account manager, straddling the fence of sales and customer service? I’m redeploying this person into this position, knowing full well that she’s not going to do a great job of finding new business, but will accomplish a very important task for us, which is to manage our current accounts and to maximize our customer retention.
If your organization isn’t expending some of its resources on customer retention, there’s a good chance that you’re digging new pits to fill old ones. What do I mean by this? Well, your organization could be spending time acquiring new customers to replace the ones that you’re losing. For this reason, an account management or customer service function is extremely important to the overall mix of your sales organization and to your customer facing operations in general.
Some people would choose to terminate this type of non-performer, but I believe that everybody has their utility and in our particular organization, we have lots of need to make sure that we are working to retain our current customers, so it’s very easy for me to move this person into an account management role and thereby improve our overall ability to satisfy our existing business as a foundation for more growth.
If you have a sales rep who is not making it in his/her job, sure that you don’t decide to terminate without at least figuring out if there’s another role for that kind of person in your company. What you’ll find is that the DNA of a relationship builder or account manager can be very useful to your overall organizational success.
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