Sales Laziness – Just doing the Milk round.
Remember the milkmen? The gentle clink of the bottles and the hum of the milk floats they drove around in at 5mph at 5am. Halcyon Days. I always think of the “watch out watch out there’s a Humphrey about” the old Unigate ad campaign, striped straws filled with strawberry milkshake, but I am digressing and showing my age.
What do milk rounds have to do with sales? Well when there is an account manager with a territory and a patch of clients to look after it there is a temptation to just look after those clients and create a schedule of visits and contact that just covers those clients. In the same way as a milkman does. Nothing wrong with this you might think, after all some clients need a lot of attention and appreciate the support and great service and rightly so too. It creates customer loyalty. The thing is, that often on a territory there can be other business that may well want to do business with that company as well, and if these get ignored then the sales person is at risk of potentially becoming over dependent on the existing clients, leaving the untapped ones open to the competition.
If we think about the size of a client territory for a minute, it will be made up of regular clients (we like these very much), seasonal clients (they book or order infrequently) lapsed clients (these need lots of care to keep the machine oiled) and cold clients (these can scare us as they require a lot of effort and work). These latter clients have either been left to go cold, had a bad experience or have never been contacted. If a sales person does not actively seek and reach out to these clients then there is a high probability that this overall territory will shrink in value to the business as regular clients can and do stop spending and therefore create a gap in the revenue stream that has for so long been taken for granted, therefore, that lost business needs to be replaced with new business.
I work with companies who have one of two sales strategies in place.
- Sell for profitability – this strategy involves sales people actively managing the existing client base to maximise highest budget spend with them over any of their competitors. This is intensive and demands high levels of strategic sales techniques and negotiation to win the budget. Often discounting doesn’t happen and if it does then it is awarded for exclusivity and long term trading.
- Selling for market penetration – This strategy is different and involves sales people actively and aggressively covering the market and ensuring that their business is being used in any way, even if it means offering incentives and discounts initially. This increase businesses market share overall.
Depending on the size of the market, and the amount of potential business that it contains one of these two strategies will be employed. Often the latter is used before the former and once well established, the strategy will then change to profitability.
It is possible to have the best of both worlds, as effective sales managers identify who in their sales team have the skills to account manage clients to maximise spend, and which sales people are the new business generators. Then they ensure they are working to their strengths and capabilities with KPI’s in place to help maintain accountability and performance.
There is a risk to a business sales strategy if the ‘milk round’ phenomenon is present. Sales people guilty of just doing the milk round are lazy and often set in their ways, and or, can be low on confidence with cold calling or reaching out to new business opportunities. Due in no small part because they have got out of practice and haven’t had to. Training is really important as an intervention here, as just like a really good chef’s knife, it doesn’t matter how expensive it is, or how old it is, it will dull with repeated use and therefore, needs to be re-honed and sharpened regularly. I hear sales people with years of experience claiming they do not need sales training, as there is nothing new that they can learn. Well congratulations! You know it all. The thing is a refresh will re-sharpen and refocus and whose to say they might pick something up, sometimes just from getting together with other sales people and sharing stories and experiences can really bolster that confidence and make the sales person feel less isolated and boosted into trying out many of the skills that they had forgotten actually got them where they are today.
As a sales person myself, I use and covet my skills with pride, I may not be the best sales person in the world, but I know my stuff and convert most sales and I sell to new people everyday. I have a habit you see. That habit is to speak to at least 5 new people everyday. That way I keep my sales skills sharpened and in use and my company’s door open to new business wanting to improve their sales skills by using SerialTrainer7, that way my business stays front of mind in my client’s eyes and keeps me reminded of the fact that a business survives by making money and not becoming complacent.
Now that doesn’t sound like a milk round to me. Thanks for reading.
If your business needs sales training then get in touch with me, Simon Hares on 07979 537824 or email Simon@serialtrainer7.com