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CEOs – Give your sales team the support it deserves

Posted by Cliff Pollan on 18, May, 2014 Verizon proposal


I was in a local restaurant recently when a rep from Verizon stopped in to call on the owner. He was polite, but it was lunchtime, and he quickly realized that the timing was not right.

The next day, I was having a meeting with a prospect in our office when suddenly the door opens and it is John (name changed to protect the innocent), the Verizon rep. I looked up and took him a little by surprise by saying, “You’re from Verizon. Good news, we are a customer!”

I  let him know that the timing was not great to talk and asked him to leave his card. He told me that Verizon does not provide him with business cards.

A day later, I was on the phone when the door opened again; this time it was John with a colleague. Eventually, I asked the caller to hold and John introduced me to his manager. I repeated what I had said the day before, that we were already a satisfied customer and that I needed to jump back on my call.

I went back to my call and out of the corner of my eye I noticed that they had not left. Instead,  they  had taken a seat in our waiting area. After about 10 minutes, John came back and dropped this on my desk:

verizon quote


When you look at the proposal, you will notice it looks like a sheet of paper that has been repeatedly photocopied since the 1950’s. The first column is supposed to be my current spend. Notice that, despite the fact that I am  a client, the column is empty. Then, handwritten into the document are columns for two additional options.

Verizon spent $29.49B on Sales, General and Administrative costs in 2013. Yes, billion. Despite that, they could not buy business cards for their reps? Surely with a company like Verizon, reps should be sent out with mobile devices allowing them to generate beautiful proposals that come to me electronically. They should be on the cutting edge of technology. Simply put, they need to walk the talk. I want to see how they could take my company to the next level.

I will be honest, I  have a soft spot for sales reps. These guys have really hard jobs, and I always cut them a break because I appreciate the profession. Seeing a company put their reps in this position (whether these are their own reps or authorized agents) is a sin.

Now, this is a company that is supposed to be selling me lightning speed Internet. A company on the forefront of communications infrastructure and connectivity. They surely must be conscious of how they look to me, as a buyer, with handwritten proposals and no business cards. To me, is Verizon really the glitz and glamour of the TV ads, or are they sales reps with  handwritten proposals?

For business buyers, while your website and advertising are important, the sales team, whether in person or on the phone, is the most important part of the buyer’s experience. Underinvesting in them, to me, is a big mistake.

Fortunately, the Verizon experience is extreme. At the same time, CEOs themselves should be looking at their company through their customer or prospective clients’ eyes. How do your salespeople look and the information you share appear to your buyer?

While you may not be sharing handwritten proposals, are you making it easy for your reps to get the right information at the right moment to your client in a way they can easily consume and share? Is it easy for them to read things on their mobile device? Can they readily share it with colleagues?


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