Are You an Order Taker or an Order Maker?

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 26-01-2008

I’ve written previously about complacent sales people and how easy it is to fall into the “order taker” trap.  A new rep joins the team and after a period of time, typically one or two years, they arrive at a point where their earlier efforts to build an account base has succeeded either their own gains, or through some other means of account acquisition, and they now have one hundred active accounts or more.  The trap is that you depend on those commissions and know that every time you get an order you get paid.  You go out every day and see those accounts and spend your time getting orders and not prospecting for new business or account penetration.  You may be busy but you are NOT working smart.  You’re simply taking the easy way out having convinced yourself that all you have to do is maintain what you have.  Wrong!

Unlike many years ago when sales was about making lots of calls, handing out catalogs and flyer’s and walking through a lot of doors, business acquisition today is entirely different.  Prospects get offended when you walk in the door without an appointment or purpose so you just blew your first chance to make a good impression.  Sales today requires some stealth, research, creativity and a lot of relationship building.  You don’t go into a prospective account and immediately try to close the sale.  You probe, interview and create a need for the prospect to do business with you. 

We recently earned the business with a new account.  I knew this prospect was shopping us against three other office furniture competitors.  When we won the business we asked the prospect, “Tell us why you chose us over the competition?”  The prospect replied, “You were the only company that bothered to come to my place of business and talk to me face-to-face and identify what my needs really were.  Everyone else wanted to do business over e-mail or the telephone.  You genuinely cared about what I needed, not what you wanted to sell me.”  His original budget was $1800 and the sale ended up over $6400 because we identified his needs and provided a solution, and when he called our office for information we had a rep contact him within one hour and made an appointment to meet him the same day.  The competition simply wanted to sell him what they presumed he wanted without doing the research.  They were order takers, not order makers.

Most likely you have an experienced customer service team at your business that is more than capable of handling orders and other customer issues.  Utilize those CSR’s to the best of your ability and make them a part of your success, that’s what they are there for.  Train your customers too place their orders either online or call your CSR.  Whenever possible a CSR should be assigned to a sales rep so they become intimately familiar with those accounts.  They become an extension of that sales rep and in most cases can respond to potential issues much faster than a rep out in the field.  As a rep your time is more valuable to yourself and the company when you are doing business reviews, prospecting and working on account penetration activities than you are visiting and taking orders.  As an exercise keep a written log of your daily activities for the next 30 days noting the times and time spent on each call (and function) and what your daily time is spent doing.  Then analyze your log at the end of those 30 days and see where your time is spent.  Learn to plan your work week in advance so when that opportunity clock rings and your feet hit the floor you have an action plan ready to go.

Do you plan your week in advance?  When was the last time you did a business review with a customer?  How many prospecting calls did you make last week?  Post a comment and share your success strategies.

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