When Sales Reps go Rogue: A Rant

I’m a pretty positive, results-oriented person who is fortunate to work in an industry full of positive, results-oriented people. But, my fellow powder coaters, general managers, and small business owners, can we take a moment to bond over what I am sure is a shared pet peeve?

Sales reps.

Not the people, mind you – I have great working relationships with a lot of Kaser’s sales reps. We know each other well, we communicate regularly, and I’m always thankful for their assistance in purchasing packaging, paint, powder, and the myriad other supplies that keep the business running.

My rant today is about when these otherwise-lovely people stop by.

Unannounced.

On a mission.

With the sole purpose of tracking me down.

Here’s how this type of visit typically goes:

Reps will come to Kaser with the best of intentions – to see how the new product is working, to check on our supply of [xyz], or to discuss pricing changes. Nine times out of ten, they will blow past the receptionist, and walk straight into my office. If I happen to be on the phone or in a meeting, they will grow roots near my desk and wait until I’m done. Some have waited as long as 30 minutes for me to wrap up a phone call, hovering the whole time.

Let me pause to take a poll: when going to get your teeth cleaned, how many of you walk past reception and pull up a chair next to the dentist as he finished work on his current patient?

No one? Good. Because that would be uncomfortable.

As you might imagine, I get pulled away from the office regularly for a variety of reasons – more often than not, a piece of equipment stops working and needs immediate repair to keep production on schedule.

If I’m away from my desk when a sales rep stops by, instead of checking in with the receptionist, they love to take off across the Kaser campus, looking for me.

When they find me, I’m usually covered in dirt and sweat, laboring over a broken piece of equipment that needs to be fixed immediately. That’s when they ask me my very favorite question: “Looks like you’re busy?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am busy, and the receptionist could have told you that if you’d given her a chance.

Does this happen because small businesses have an air of being more relaxed? Possibly. I’ve had several reps complain to me about other companies in their territory: “You know, they got all serious over at Powder Shop Z – you have to check in and get a name badge and the doors are all locked.” I can’t help but laugh when I hear that. Of course their doors are locked – production is in progress and the fewer interruptions, the better (and safer) for everyone involved.

If I could lock the Kaser doors, I would. I want my shop floor safe, operational, and free from well-intentioned wanderers. Unfortunately, with the volume of parts we move daily, locked doors would slow us down too much.

So small business owners, if you have an effective solution to this problem, I would love to hear it. And sales reps, if you’re reading this, my receptionist is highly-qualified and very helpful – I will be much happier to see you if you talk with her first. 

 

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