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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

A `Finishing School' for Sales Reps

Cross-training sales reps in different company departments.
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The faster sales grow, the easier it is for salespeople to get sloppy with the finishing touches. Oversights such as forgetting to supply a new customer with the correct forms or making an error in pricing can hurt any company's profitability. Global Mail Ltd., a $13-million deliverer of international mail (#35 on this year's Inc. 500 figures each "little" slipup costs it hundreds to thousands of dollars to fix. The 45-employee company, based in Sterling, Va., handles 75 tons of mail a month for more than 900 clients.

So before new sales hires train in the field, they spend one to three days each with the customer-service, accounting, operations, and telesales staffs. The new reps process bills, sort mail, and field customer calls. And they see firsthand how salespeople's paper snafus affect every department: "The first place they find out about a mistake is at the loading dock," says Glenn Cafritz, partner in charge of sales training. "Here's where they discover the 10-pound shipments coming to the dock at 300 pounds and the packages missing shipping forms altogether."

The final resting place for salespeople's mistakes is credit and collection. "I know if a company makes a mistake with me, I put the bill on the bottom of the pile," says CEO Harry Geller, who spot-checks many of the invoices and, with Cafritz, tutors new hires on the inner workings of the company, such as how Global Mail's system differs from the competition's, how deals are struck with overseas postmasters, and the company's pricing matrix.

The payoff: The four salespeople (out of a force of 11) who've been through the cross-training are more cautious about quoting lower rates or making unrealistic promises to a prospective client, says Cafritz. They also submit fewer "problem invoices" than the veteran salespeople.

-- Susan Greco

Last updated: Oct 1, 1992




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