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William L. Shannon, Editor

William L. Shannon, Editor of CISCA

It's All About Priorities

for the January / February 2004 Issue, CISCA's Interior Construction Magazine

Salespeople, don't you just love it when you are told, it just can't be done! We just don't do it that way! It's not our system. Our computers can't communicate with your computers. Our system can only send the information to one person in each territory. Our telephone system can't work with your telephone system. We can't secure that information on order entry, it's just not possible!

Sound familiar? Is it frustrating? Do you believe any of it? Don't! It's really all just about priorities. If something is important to an individual with influence within any organization or if the individual involved in performing the task is paid based upon satisfactory completion, anything can and will be done.

Sounds like plain common sense, but there is a catch. Different people have different priorities. What's in it for me? That's what really determines what can and will be done. If there is not a clearly established priority and commensurate accountability, it won't be done. For salespeople, it's really simple, meet or exceeds your goal, and you will be compensated. If not, well... you know the answer to that!

Establishing priorities is the responsibility of senior management. They have the overall view of the goals of the organization and the ability to plan the steps necessary to achieve the goals. Its then up to managers to be sure the goals of the organization are accomplished,

It's really frustrating to attend a well organized meeting and listen to the management outline the plans and goals for the next year. You are an important part of the goals. You are given responsibilities and many tools to use in meeting them. But, unfortunately, you are painfully aware of what is missing. It's been discussed for years, heads nodding in agreement, but nothing has changed.

Does this sound familiar? Keep in mind; it's never too late to change.

Basically the key is communication, if communication becomes a priority, success will follow. There are many very successful companies in our industry and a review of their systems and procedures reveal the following;

Quotations: Every quote is in writing. They always include the project name and location. The architect's name and location and complete product description. A copy of the written quote is always sent to the sales people in all affected territories. If there are multiple territories involved, they all receive a copy. Provides sales people with first notification of a successful sales effort. Will help sell the next job!

Orders: Every order is in writing and refers to a prior written quotation. They always include the project name and location. The architects name and location and complete product description. A copy of the written quote is always sent to the sales people in all effected territories. If there are multiple territories involved, they all receive a copy. This creates excitement for sales staff!

Invoices: Sent on a timely basis, with copies to sales people in all effected territories. Assists in planning for cash flow.

Order Correspondence: Copies of all correspondence sent to sales people in all effected territories. Keep your sales staff informed!

Aging Reports: Copies to all appropriate sales people. Can't expect assistance in collections if your sales staff is not aware of problems!

There is a simple reason why the most successful companies follow these procedures. A fully informed sales team is given the tools to satisfactorily fulfill their requirements.

This may seem somewhat self serving, but upon closer analysis it really makes sense. The priority of any organization is to maximize the sales of goods and services. The face of the organization in the market place is the sales force. Doesn't it make sense that the front line team of the company is fully informed?

If your organization is not providing all members of the team required information, on a timely basis. If it's because your record keeping system or computer equipment or programs cannot provide the needed information. You may have a problem! Think this lack of up to date current information may have an adverse effect upon your sales? Guaranteed!

Why in the world do seemingly sophisticated companies accept "our system cannot supply that information"? If any system does not supply the necessary information to all involved in the success of the company, then change the darn system! The only reason there is a system is to increase sales of goods and services!

The responsibility for the necessary changes rest squarely on the shoulders of senior management, because it really is all about priorities! If senior management makes it a priority to encourage or demand seamless communication between departments and all individuals from product concept to delivery, it will happen!

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award

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