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Sales Transformation, Lesson One - Be sure to fight the Right Battles!
Does the following tale sound familiar? John has just taken a £5K order from an established regular client called Big Co Ltd and is delighted as the order means he will hit is target for the month. He fills in the order on the system and thinks that’s that….

However, two hours later he gets an email from accounts to say the order has been blocked because the client in question has £2K of invoices that are two days overdue.

John calls the client to ask for payment but they go ballistic. They have been a client for 5 years and have an exemplary payment record. They tell John to either get the order agreed or they will place it with a competitor.

John tells the tale to his manager who then calls his counterpart in accounts, after ten minutes of arguing the accounts manager wins & the deal stays blocked. John’s manager, who by now is very upset, then calls his sales director.

The sales director is incensed and marches off to the accounts director’s office for a ‘showdown’ (the accounts director has, of course, already been ‘tipped off’ by his accounts manager). The battle is akin to “The Rumble in The Jungle” and lasts an hour, with each arguing their point as if their lives depended on it.

The outcome of this bloody battle is that the sales director has won his case but by now the day has passed and he cannot report back until the next day.

The following day, the sales director emails the sales manager to say they will accept the order without the outstanding payment being cleared. At the same time the account’s director calls his account manager to say let the deal go through, he then calls his accounts assistant.

The accounts assistant then questions why they have rules in place if no one supports them! They feel their job is devalued and disengage. The accounts manager agrees with them but says “it’s just the way it is”, he also feels upset and unsupported by his manager.

The sales manager was in a meeting in the morning and didn’t get the email to say the order would be acceptable until lunch time. He then emailed John to say “all systems go”. John however was on a conference call with another client and didn’t pick the message up for a couple of hours!

John was delighted when he got the news and thought “Great that showed account’s ‘who’s the boss’”, John then called his client with the good news.

Unfortunately John was greeted with bad news, a cheque has been sent to clear the outstanding balance BUT all future business would now be going to John’s main competitor, who had been courting the client for many years! The competitor was a smaller more agile business where decision making took minutes, not day’s or hours.

Key Learning Point: Businesses that spend more time arguing amongst themselves and winning personal battles lose the real war, the one with the competitor!

Written by Stuart Allen FCMI FInstSMM Sales Transformation Specialist and Fruitful Selling Training Consultant.