Wednesday, August 3, 2011


During my years in sales, I've had many conversations with people about the connection between behaviors and attitudes. Does a sales rep’s poor attitude cause poor performance? Or does a sales rep’s poor performance create a poor attitude, a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy?

The answer is yes and yes. How do you know someone has a poor attitude? It shows. And, if it shows, you're dealing with behaviors. If it doesn't show, it's not a problem.

If you’re a modular factory owner or a Sales Manager, it's important that your sales reps understand how their moods and attitudes affect their behaviors and ultimately everyone around them. When you help them understand they can "put on" any disposition they want, they'll find that they enjoy work more and their customers will have a better experience as well.

What your sales reps say to their builders is an easy barometer of their attitude, how they are feeling, and what they are thinking about work. There are many things an associate shouldn't say to - or around - a customer or a patient. Some are driven by a poor attitude and some are driven by lack of knowledge about what is or isn't appropriate.

Whether you're dealing with a poor attitude about work or unacceptable customer service behaviors, here's a good starting point for a discussion: Five Things You Should Never Say to a Builder...

1.  "I hate my job... Corporate sucks... This company is lame... My boss is a jerk..."

Let's face it, nobody likes whining. Harsh words and complaints about your job, the company, your boss or co-workers should never be directed to or within hearing of a builder or the builder’s customers. It's the start of a downhill slide that will affect everyone around you.

2.  "There's nothing I can do."

Even if that's true - and usually it isn't - there's a better way to say it.

If company policy stands in the way of handling a service problem, look for a workaround. Builders are forgiving if they feel that you're trying. And a well-handled complaint actually builds loyalty. But throwing up your hands and saying "That's our policy" shuts down discussion. It essentially tells the builder that you're finished and that there is no amenable solution.

You may be finished but your builder isn't. An angry builder doesn't stop feeling angry when you say, "that's our policy... we're finished here." They leave. They talk to others. And given that most consumers are now internet-savvy, they chat online about their experiences too.

So, if you can't change policy on the spot, at least try to come up with a solution.  The problem doesn't end just because you want it to end.

3.  "No problem."

This is one of my top pet peeves. The appropriate and polite response to "thank you" is "you're welcome." Saying "no problem" is not.

I know it's become part of pop culture vernacular. But, saying "no problem" suggests that the customer was a potential problem and - thank goodness - things turned out okay. I don't know about you, but I don't like to think of myself as a potential problem customer or an interruption or a disruption or a hassle.

Sure, some builders always seem to have a problem. And some builders may not always approach you with the respect you deserve. They may let their emotions get the best of them. They may even let their bad moods impact their interaction with you. But they're not the ones getting paid to do a job. You are.

You have a job because of them. Tasks and everything else that you may be working on can wait. So, the next time a builder thanks you for helping, say "my pleasure" instead. And if that's a tad too cheery for your personality, stick with the tried and true "You're welcome."

4.  "What's up... Wassup... Here's the deal... or any other slang"

It's one thing to use slang when you talk co-worker to co-worker. It's quite another to direct it toward your builder. Using slang like "Hey, what's up?" instead of a more traditional "Hello, how are you?" may leave your builder feeling disrespected. Other slang expressions may leave your builder wondering what you said.

There's no question that the use of slang is part of life. It intimates cultural bonds, age bonds, and gender bonds. But unless your customers can all connect with you based on age, gender, and culture, keep it out of work.

5.  "I’ll get right on that."

For all your good intentions, jumping right on a problem or a builder’s request isn’t always the best thing to do.  You may not have gotten all the facts or just what your builder wanted you to fix.

An example of this occurred many years ago, before cell phones, when I asked one of my framers to go into town.  He got in his truck and immediately drove to town only to return 15 minutes later.  Seems he never waited long enough to find out why I wanted him to go into town!  But he did “get right on it.”

Make sure that you have enough facts in order to get on it and find the answer without having to go back to your builder with more calls and emails.


Anonymous said...

Coach, Great list.

Anonymous said...

um...seriously though, my boss IS a jerk.

Coach said...

He just might be a jerk but don't tell that to your builder. They just might be cousins and then YOU'RE screwed.