Author Topic: Any way to stay out of the middle?  (Read 3693 times)

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CakeBeret

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Any way to stay out of the middle?
« on: July 16, 2013, 05:04:40 PM »
Quick BG: I work for a small business. I perform several tasks including the finances, support the executives, and some sales. SalesBoss is the company's salesperson and travels a lot. There is no one over SalesBoss's head.

I have a problem that crops up from time to time and is *incredibly* frustrating. SalesBoss will give a customer a quote for some widgets. The customer will call back to order, and I will take the order. SalesBoss essentially forgets everything and washes his hands of the whole thing, despite the fact that I have *absolutely zero knowledge* of this customer's specific order.

Example: SalesBoss is traveling. BigCustomer calls and wants to confirm a quote from SalesBoss. SalesBoss is not answering his phone, so I go into his email system and find where he sent the quote to Customer. I confirm the quote to Customer. He has some questions about the manufacturing process that I can't answer, because I don't know which manufacturer SB was planning to use.

Finally SB answers his phone and I ask him about the manufacturer. He says, "Well *I* don't know, which manufacturer did we quote off of?" Clearly I don't know this because SB was the one who arranged the quote. SB tells me to start from scratch, go through the whole process to choose a manufacturer, and then ask that mfr the questions.

Eventually we get it ironed out. Finally SB is back in the office, but tells me to do all the paperwork for the sale. Fine. Then, the Customer asks me to verify the protection plan SB quoted him. I ask SB, "Which protection plan did you offer Customer?" SB will respond, "I don't know, what protection plan did we quote him?" I DON'T KNOW BECAUSE YOU WERE THE ONE WHO QUOTED IT.

Finally the order is complete, and three weeks later Customer is unhappy with the order. We have to start the warranty process, which is difficult and time consuming. I rarely handle warranties, so I have to get Customer's info, call SB to ask how to proceed, call Manufacturer to inform them, call SB to approve Manufacturer's proposed warranty fix, and then call Customer to give them the answer. The process would be infinitely more simple if SB, who actually handles the warranty process, would handle it himself. At every turn SB acts as though he has no idea why he's being consulted, despite the fact that this is his customer, his sale, and his warranty.

So is there any way I can foster SB being responsible for his own responsibilities, or is this something I should learn to live with?
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SlitherHiss

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 05:13:08 PM »
How frustrating! It definitely sounds like the process is broken.

How are quotes documented? Is anything in writing or is it all verbal? I think it would be very reasonable to request that you be CC'd on all quotes, or have a copy filed in a central location. Frankly, from a bookkeeping/auditing perspective, it would be entirely foolish not to keep a record of how quotes are arrived at! I'd bring it up in terms of wanting to relieve stress from SB.

NyaChan

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 05:14:46 PM »
I think developing some forms or databases that Salesperson has to use in order to make a quote would be helpful.  That way whatever he says is in writing. 

CakeBeret

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 05:17:24 PM »
Everything is done in SalesBoss's head, sometimes written down, rarely written down in a comprehensible manner in a place I can find. I've been trying for four years to implement any sort of quote system. Nobody wants to make the effort and I can't force them.
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wolfie

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 05:23:11 PM »
Does SalesBoss make a commission off those sales? If so then I would be very tempted to say that since you are doing the work you want the commission.

SlitherHiss

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 05:31:07 PM »
How about condensing the questions in an email? That way you'd have a paper trail and you'd (likely) only have to reach out once per order.

"Hi SalesBoss,

I just received a call from Company wanting to order X widgets for eleventy dollars. Please confirm which manufacturer and protection plan you used to generate the quote so I can get this booked ASAP.

Many thanks,

-CakeBeret"

Do this every single time you get an order.

EllenS

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 05:44:25 PM »
I think what you are doing would be classified as "relationship management".  This may or may not be part of your job description.  If it is not, then you shoudl talk to whoever does the hiring about adjusting your compensation.

Other than refusing to process any orders without full "documentation", I don't see a good way to get out of this.  Salesboss may in fact believe it is your job, and not his.  And if you cause him to lose a sale, that will likely impact your job as well.

Are all the quotes figured manually, or is it done by some kind of software - if so, is there any way for the software to email you a copy of how the quote was generated?
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artk2002

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 09:52:40 PM »
I'd address this as a process problem. It's clear that quotes are being generated but there's no documentation on how they were put together. If you have to go digging through the e-mail system to even confirm that a quote was given, you've got a problem. There's lots of software out there, from simple PC programs up to a subscription to SalesForce.com that would really help with this. The way to pitch more process as a fix for the issue is to try to quantify the lost revenue and wasted effort in recreating quotes.
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Deetee

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 10:42:59 PM »
If you are the one who actually ends up putting together the details of the quote, then I suggest that get the details before confirming the quote.

So make up a form with quote, #of dohickeys, manufacturing process, protection plan and warranty (all the info that will be needed). Then become a bit of a stone wall. Send the form to SB and when a customer contacts you with a question, check the form (that will almost always be unfilled from what you've told us about SB) and then fill out what you can (customer name and date and quote) and then forward it to the SB to "fill in the rest". Maybe you could even have a bubbles for common protection plans and manufactirers.

Then just keep sending him the dingdangity form. After all, it sounds like all that info is required anyhow.

I'm not sure what to do about some parts of your problem. Can you refuse to look up the manufacturer for him? Do you have a boss. Would you get in trouble if you didn't do his job? Is that his job or yours or both?

I'd try to make it more trouble for him to avoid the work than to get you to do it. But only you know how that would fly.


blarg314

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 07:36:21 AM »
Everything is done in SalesBoss's head, sometimes written down, rarely written down in a comprehensible manner in a place I can find. I've been trying for four years to implement any sort of quote system. Nobody wants to make the effort and I can't force them.

I think this pretty much answers your question, unfortunately. They don't want to do it, your Boss won't do it, and if you push it too far (like by refusing to process orders without the appropriate information)  you risk your job.

Only me

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 02:27:50 PM »
Hi

Lots of good suggestions, but was following up actually ever part of your job. Cause it sounds like after 4 years it is now.

If implimenting something hasn't worked in 4 years, and you're not getting compensated for the extra work. I think stop going into the the SB's email. Send him an email (and maybe copy customer) asking for him to call back customer every single time. Everytime he says "can you look into", state you'd be glad to when he answers all these questions (put down the information you need).

Or get your job description and particulars in writing to get compensation for all the sales that you put together and get for the customer.

Or look for another job.

I wish you luck with your stress level.

Onlyme

cheyne

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 04:49:41 PM »
Is Salesboss the owner of the company?  If he is not, how is it that he doesn't have a boss? 

There is no incentive for salesboss to change his MO.  He makes the sale, gets the commission (or good pay) and you do all the work.  Why would he want a quote system implemented?   That would be more actual work for him.

If you can't change the system you have two choices.  1)  Suck it up and continue to do what you are doing.  2)  Find a new job.*

*I am not trying to be flippant or rude here.  Four years is a long time to beat your head against a wall.  I've worked with these types before, I wish you luck.

CakeBeret

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 06:49:24 PM »
Thanks for the advice. I posted in frustration yesterday, as I spent most of the day unraveling a SalesBoss deal gone wrong. I will admit, I was hoping for some magic solution that I had somehow missed. :) I do really like the suggestion to email SalesBoss every.single.time to request all the pertinent details.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2013, 07:40:02 PM »
Here's a solution.

Ask for a promotion. Cite this problem (SalesBoss is SO busy, he needs assistance) and your proactivity in solving it. Point out that he already trusts you and relies on you.

And point out that if you are truly authorized to follow up (as a sales associate), then you can make the company look better and streamline all sorts of things.

Then create your own quote system, and form, and YOU take the intiative to do the math, and decide which vendor you can use to meet the quote.

Ask for authorization to step in and make decisions, to implement the plans SalesBoss is laying.

Point out that someone else may need to take over some of the less creative things you're doing to free up time for you to tackle this.
   And then you can also codify some of the pricing, etc., to give SalesBoss the tools he might need to do this well.

Deetee

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Re: Any way to stay out of the middle?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2013, 01:45:23 PM »
Here's a solution.

Ask for a promotion. Cite this problem (SalesBoss is SO busy, he needs assistance) and your proactivity in solving it. Point out that he already trusts you and relies on you.

And point out that if you are truly authorized to follow up (as a sales associate), then you can make the company look better and streamline all sorts of things.

Then create your own quote system, and form, and YOU take the intiative to do the math, and decide which vendor you can use to meet the quote.

Ask for authorization to step in and make decisions, to implement the plans SalesBoss is laying.

Point out that someone else may need to take over some of the less creative things you're doing to free up time for you to tackle this.
   And then you can also codify some of the pricing, etc., to give SalesBoss the tools he might need to do this well.

I like this.

You should either embrace this as part of your job and get proper compensation/commission etc.. for the responsibility

OR

If you get no real benefit  (and no personal damage/issues/firing)  and this is not supposed to be part of your job then simply stop doing it (except for emailing the sales boss every.single.time with the laundry list of missing information)