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An area that I often find myself offering advice to flooring dealers is suggesting methods of improving communications between the sales personnel and the installers. The dealer that has no cause for concern in this area seems to be in the distinct minority today. Two questions that I ask seem to speak volumes regarding a given business’ installer – sales staff relations.

The reality in most flooring stores is that the sales manager was likely one of the firm’s top producing salespeople who got promoted. While I believe this often to be a mistake, as coaching a game properly requires an entirely different skill set than playing a game well, it’s a fact just the same.

As many of my readers know, I am constantly saying that we learn our best marketing lessons when we are the customer. I had a great reminder this past week. My wife, Michelle, had to undergo a rather serious abdominal surgery. It doesn’t matter how busy you may be, or who you are, such news will make you stop and take pause.

Even if you’re an experienced sales manager, it’s likely you may find it difficult to advise other people about areas in which improvement is needed. Praising a good performance is easy; everyone likes to receive a compliment. Both parties are smiling and, for the moment at least, life is good. But what do you do when a kick in the butt seems more appropriate than a pat on the back?

Doesn’t it drive you mad when terrific, yet underperforming, sales people can’t seem to be focused on their jobs for even an entire day? You know the type. They always have to take their car to be serviced, bring their pets to the vet, meet a contractor, go to the dentist, etc. They never want to use up a vacation day for these tasks as they consider them too valuable to waste. I am not referencing unexpected occurrences here. We all have those to contend with. I am speaking of tasks that an employee should have handled on their unscheduled hours.

A frequent sore spot between sales staff and sales management is caused by management’s desire for higher gross profits, and the sales rep’s wish for the ability to reduce prices to meet the competition. Basically, many employees think that owners are making a fortune, and that they have many perks that others in the company do not enjoy.

You and I know that this is typically not the case. When collections lag, we are often the last to get paid. The past few years, this has been the case far too often for many in our industry.

An exercise that I find surprisingly few companies doing effectively is conducting regularly scheduled staff meetings. In my experience, these businesses are letting a great opportunity go unrealized, as this is often the only hour of the week that everyone is gathered together to “get on the same page” with each other. Think of this as synchronizing your watches to the same time.

Too often managers overseeing projects, goals and key initiatives make the mistake of just setting a final deadline. To ensure that both momentum and enthusiasm can be maintained throughout a project, it is necessary to establish “tollgates” to monitor progress.

In sports, we hear the term “home field advantage”. When we are visiting a customer’s home or office to measure and estimate, think of the customer as having the home field advantage.
You will often find a very different person than the one you met initially in your store. They now have their comfortable shoes on and their choice of music playing. If you are good, you will make full benefit of this.

You cannot listen to any successful coach motivating his team for long without hearing the phrase “just do your own jobs!” This is a deceptively simple statement that can have nearly universal impact and benefits. In sports, what the coach is saying is simply that when everyone on the team does what is expected of them, the play called will likely work as designed. However, it only takes one player missing his assignment to create failure for all concerned.