Today, more and more clients are sharing a common problem. In this day of supply chain issues and extended delivery times, their sales teams are struggling to stay motivated. If I had to capture the trouble in two sentences, they are:
1) Why should I sell more when I know the delivery will likely be delayed and I will disappoint the customer?
2) Why take more orders that we will not be able to deliver?
Add this to the numerous daily telephone calls they are receiving from customers “looking for an update” on their shipment (and hoping that they can somehow move ahead in the delivery queue) and too many salespeople come to the realization that “no new business is good business.”
What’s a sales manager to do?
First, recognize it is a real issue for your teams. We’ve heard from a few salespeople where the manager has pushed back and “shouted down” the concern, fueling a new job search by their team. Empathy is needed in the communication we expect of our customers today, and it is just as important with our teams.
Second, open up visibility into the supply chain. Give them more information than usual about status of orders. Share updates from suppliers. While information alone will not solve the issue, having better data and talking points will make the salespeople more comfortable discussing “expected” delivery dates for products.
Finally, remind them that all suppliers are struggling with delivery and ultimately this too is an opportunity to develop trust. Communicate the dates as you understand them today, and while the product may take longer to arrive than usual, the sooner the order is placed the sooner it will arrive. In a time of allocation, a trusted advisor can help a customer steer into the right product that meets all requirements – including the best delivery time.