Empower to Sell

By Ray Dreyfack

While many sales reps handle the price question when they’re sealing a deal, there are certainly exceptions.

“Many sales managers still share the burden of finalizing price with their accounts,” says Bob Butler, a consultant and trainer with Butler Learning Systems in Dayton, OH. But a rep’s overdependence on supervision can create problems. “We believe that salespeople who have been properly trained should have the authority to negotiate and close within parameters established by management,” he says. “It is important that those parameters are clearly defined and understood by sales representatives.

“Care must be taken not to use management support indiscriminately. If the buyer requests a discount and the rep says, ‘I need to check with my manager,’ keep in mind the possible implication that the rep is caving in to the buyer’s demand. Salespeople need to counter by selling perceived value and benefits.”

Butler sees a place for the manager, especially in light of the current growth of account buying teams. In a sense it boils down to team versus team. “Remember that relationship selling comes first before product selling can occur,” he emphasizes. “A strong relationship automatically weakens sales resistance. As the selling team defines its roles, the manager will need to align with the key decision maker on the buying team. Once that is accomplished, managers can ‘put in their two cents’ as needed, during a formal presentation or in response to doubts and complaints or to troubleshoot problems.”

The manager’s experience, judgment and status must be on hand to provide the power and leverage needed to save tough accounts. But, Butler adds, “the manager’s basic job is to coach, guide, counsel and empower salespeople to reach the company’s vision and mission objectives. The sales rep must bear the brunt of the burden.”

Bob Butler is president and CEO of Butler Learning Systems, specializing in sales training, team training and self-improvement. For more information, call 937/298-7462 or 1-888-298-7462, email butler@butler-learning.com or visit www.butler-learning.com.