During a project meeting between myself and Material Planners at a previous employer, it became quite evident that several suppliers had been unresponsive in replying to our e-mails and voicemails requesting information. Incoming parts expected within the next few weeks still did not have estimated time of arrivals, and the responsible Sales Reps have not responded to our requests for lead times.
The reality is that most professionals are bombarded with e-mails and phone calls without enough time in the day to respond to everyone and every issue. Because of that, overlooking e-mails that should have been responded to weeks ago is a daily occurrence no matter how good your time management skills are. But the Blog is not in regards to missing one or two e-mails from any given client. It’s about not responding at all after receiving a significant number of communications from the client. I just don’t get it.
I have to believe that there several reasonable reasons why Sales Professionals are unable to, or refuse to, respond to a deluge of requests regarding the same issue from the same Buyer. And I’m certain that spending time “Behind the Sales Desk” would prove beneficial in my understanding. But until then, from “Behind the Buyer’s Desk”, it appears these specific Sales Professionals are anything BUT professional. When suppliers are consistently unresponsive, it leaves an obvious negative impression with the Buyer, especially if the Buyer doesn’t have a clue why the person is not responding. From the Buyer’s perspective the supplier is indifferent, insensible and not interested in future business.
Again, I understand the amount of e-mails people receive on any given day. And it’s not that I expect to receive a response within a matter of minutes, within the hour, or even (at times) within the same day. But when days and weeks go by without a response, especially after numerous communications from me, I find it very hard to understand why the supplier can’t reply. And I wonder if their management is even aware of it. In this instance, management is either condoning this lack of action of is completely unaware of what their sales people are doing. And if you’re a Sales Manager thinking, “Not my people”, I suggest you contact your clients and find out for yourself. Personally, if I find a Sales Rep unresponsive, I will call their Manager to find out what the issue is.
There is a specific company, whose name will remain nameless, that can be counted on NOT calling back. And it doesn’t matter what division or State they’re in, it’s nearly impossible to get a Sales Rep to call or e-mail back. I don’t know if ignoring clients is part of their mandatory training or if they have so much business that they don’t need to be responsive. Whatever the root cause is, Buyer’s try very hard NOT to place business with companies like them.
Sometimes the reason a Sales Professional doesn’t call or e-mail back is because they’re out of town or on vacation. When it comes to electronic communication, e-mails and voice-mails are all critical tools in doing business with the client. That’s why it’s essential for the Sales Professional to leave a message on their e-mail and voice-mail if they’re on vacation, sick or simply out of the office for an extended period of time. The message should clearly state when they’ll be gone, when they’ll be returning, and who to contact in their absence. This is common sense but from my side of the desk, it happens way too often.
Some time ago I attempted to call a Sales Rep to invite him to a supplier line-up meeting to quote a job. I left voice-mail after voice-mail trying to get a hold of him to make sure he’ll attend the meeting. I later found out that the Rep was in training all week and never left a voice-mail message to say he’d be out or who to contact in his place. Unfortunately I found out too late and his company never had an opportunity to quote. Can your company afford to make that kind of oversight? If you’re a Sales Manager are you ensuring your team uses out-of-office tools when applicable?
From The Buyer’s Desk, here’s the type of message you should leave on your voice-mail and e-mail if you’re out of the office for an extended period of time: “This is Robert Jones, Sales Engineer for The Anson Company. I am presently out of the office and will be returning to work the morning of April 26. If this is an emergency please contact Mr. Jerry Brown at 555-123-7654. Otherwise, please leave a message and I’ll respond when I return.”
Unresponsive Sales Professionals can easily lose business for their company. Improving your time management skills and ensuring a call or e-mail back, even if it’s a short one and even if you don’t have all the answers to the Buyer’s request, will greatly improve your opportunities.