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Why Losing The Sales Team’s Confidence Is So Dangerous

Years ago I was working with a large Fortune 100 component manufacturer. The manufacturer had recently rolled out a new component design and the sales team had gotten a very large customer to design that new component into their own flagship product. It was an excellent win for the sales team and should have led to some great follow-on sales.

And then it happened…

Just a few months after the product began shipping, it ran into some big manufacturing hurdles…and shipments stopped while the engineers worked on a solution. This, of course, meant a cascade of other ramifications… The customer wasn’t getting the component and their assembly line ground to a halt… Consumer demand for the customer’s product was high, but they no longer had any products to provide. The marketing plan the customer had invested millions in turned into a wasted effort…

To put it mildly, the customer was livid. And they certainly let the sales team know of their frustrations.

After about a month, everything was back on track. The manufacturing problem was fixed, shipments resumed and the customer’s assembly line was back up and running. The problem was fixed, but things were never the same with that customer…as you can imagine.

But as difficult as that was, there was another wound that was much deeper and harder to heal…

The sales team just didn’t trust new products anymore and they were incredibly gun-shy about pitching them to customers. And when they did pitch them, they tended to low-ball prices or ensure the customers also had a second-source in place. Needless to say, it was a wound that hurt sales and margins for years and meant that every new product faced an even bigger battle to get into the market.

This story is full of opportunities to study where the company could have done things better. But to me it’s a great reminder that the confidence of your sales team can cut both ways. When they believe in what they’re selling and recognize the value, they’ll stand a good chance of capturing that value. If they don’t trust what they’re selling, the pain will be felt on the bottom-line…maybe for years.

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