Q: How often should a sales manager visit the customers?
A. There are a couple of ways to answer the question. From one perspective, you need to have your own relationship with the good customers in your area of responsibility. There are several reasons for that.
First of all, you’re a boss – part of the company’s management. As such, you are perceived to have more power and influence than a sales person. Your good customers will want to know you, because the relationship with you gives them access to higher levels within your organization.
Additionally, many of these customers will tell you things that they won’t tell the sales person. They will share concerns, plans and goals that they don’t share with your sales person.
Secondly, you need your own relationship with the good customers so as to provide a back up if the sales person leaves. In the worst case scenario, if a disgruntled sales person leaves and joins the competition, you need to know who the customers are, and they need to know that you are the face of the company behind the front line sales person.
Notice that the emphasis here is on “good” customers. I don’t think that you need to know every customer, nor do you need to know the prospects.
Now, back to the question. How often should you visit the customers? Often enough to accomplish the above two objectives. Then, you should visit them with your sales people to support the sales person, to add credibility to his/her presence, and to coach and counsel the sales person on techniques and strategy.
That’s the first answer. The second answer is simpler: More than you do. I have yet to meet a sales manager who spent as much time in the field as he/she would like to spend. I can almost categorically state that every sales manager should spend more time in the field than they do.
Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.
Image “Business Meeting” by thetaxhaven on Flickr under Creative Commons license.