Sales reps need to be able to solve problems for customers when those problems arise. Instead of trying to control everything salespeople do, managers should empower their reps to respond to those problems while in the field without having to get permission every time, according to Justin Aschenbrenner, VP of industrial business development for Gates’ power transmission division in Best Practice: Gates Corporation.
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Before Gates Corp., a manufacturer of industrial and automotive products, gave field reps the power to make on-the-spot decisions, customer service suffered. Sales reps, for example, couldn’t approve credits face to face with customers, so it could take six weeks to get them through internal systems. “Often, by the time our salesperson had information about the credit the distributor would say, ‘What credit was that again?’” Aschenbrenner says.
A key component to the success of the policy, though, is making sure reps have the information they need to make the right decisions. Gates gives salespeople “troubleshooting tool kits” with extensive training on how to use the tools. The toolkit helps reps solve those problems that they can and identify which problems should be escalated to application engineers when they’re out in the field.