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Demand Accountability  Revisited

Reps On The Road

As the in house sale representative I thought I should take a moment and react to the “Demand Accountability” article by retailer Clay Dennis in the March issue. At the outset I must say I agree with his premise that we all need to demand accountability from those we work with but more importantly from ourselves.

The first thing that jumped out at me in the editorial was the writer seems to be finding religion rather late. If you do not know what your sales representatives do to earn their living, shame on them and shame on you. You cannot demand accountability if the various parties involved in the relationship are not fully aware of what the standards are that they are being held to. When was the last time you sat down with each sale professional and had a discussion and understanding of each of your roles and responsibilities? As with all of your employees, if you do not have written job descriptions and periodic reviews then you will get what you get.

Don't misunderstand my position. There are some poor sales representatives that will do the least amount of work they can get away with, and this reflects poorly on all of us. But we all have bosses and if you have had discussions with your local representative and the performance is still not up to your mutually agreed upon standards, then have you spoken to their sales manager about the problem? I have had situations when I was in management when a dealer would complain to me about a rep's performance but never had a sit down with the sales rep.

Training is my mantra. Without it we will all surely underperform. If your sales reps are not training your sales associates correctly then you do have some issues. But on the flip side, how much time do you allocate for this training? I have had many dealers say to come in one half hour prior to the store opening. That is not a commitment to real training. With my major dealers I need at least an hour and have had the good fortune of having over two hours. Once again, you need to sit with each rep and decide what needs to be accomplished and how long will it take.

As far as your manufacturer's not living up to your standards and harming your cash flow, maybe it's time you look for new vendors. You are 100% correct that poor performance by manufacturer's can cause major headaches and financial problems. It just amazes me that dealers will continue to support these factories at the expense of better performers.

I was very excited to read that some of your reps earn 12-20% off of your effort. Outside of accessory lines, I know of no major furniture factory that pays even close to these numbers. Most sales reps are working harder and harder, just like our dealers, for smaller and smaller returns.

What standards of accountability we should expect from our dealers? Well, let's say I smell another column in the works. Oh, and I like all of my dealers.

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