Making Sure the “Margin of Error” Happens to Someone Else

24 11 2009

Last week a fellow sales rep was complaining about another job of hers had been screwed up in production and wouldn’t deliver on time.  She may lose this client because this is not the first time there have been errors with their account.  I listened and expressed the appropriate amount of concern.  All sales people understand that quality control is one of the most frustrating parts of our job – we literally have no control over the quality of the product that is produced.  Or do we?  

I am not knocking my production staff.  I would NEVER do that.  The guys that I work with are AMAZINGLY meticulous, thoughtful, and detail oriented.  But no matter what industry you are in or how talented your team is, there is a margin of error.  This article will tell you how to make as sure that those errors happen with OTHER people’s jobs, not yours.

So how do you effectively  implement a quality-control program when you actually have nothing to do with the production process?  You become a part of the production process.  Duh.

Now before you get all “but it’s not my job” on me, you need to stop your whining.  If you want to get results you need to change your perspective.

So here is my 5-Step “Oops!” Factor Reduction Process:

  • Never Eat Alone:  Nothing helps you develop a strong relationship with your production team like regularly breaking bread with them.  I recommend spending at least 2 lunches per month with them if not more.  This will help you learn more about them as well as make you available if they have questions about a job of yours they are working on.
  • The “Good Morning” Factor: This one is super simple but I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they appreciate it.  Say “good morning” to people and mean it.
  • Roll Up Dem Sleeves: It’s common sense to walk around the production area to check in on your jobs at least once a day.  But it is NOT common sense to ask if you can help.  Instead of nagging and rolling your eyes about a missed deadline, ask if there is anything you can do.  If they ask you to do something, DO IT and SMILE.  Remember that they wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t needed.  Be available to pick up, deliver, and in general be of service for your jobs.  If your support team sees that you are engaged on the same level they are, they will care more about your jobs and you will be one of the first to know if there is an issue.
  • Over-Appreciate Overtime: If you know the production guys are working over a weekend or is being burdened with a lot of overtime- you know they are stressed.  Do something to show you care.  Show up unexpectedly (when you are supposed to be off) bearing beer or some baked goodness.  Walk around with the case/plate and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.  Even if they came in to complete someone elses’ job – you are showing them you notice the extra effor they are putting in to make the whole shop thrive. 
  • Ask For Input: These individuals are most-often experts in their fields.  Our Bindery Manager has been in the industry for 37 years.  That is longer than I have been alive!  When you ask for their opinion on the best way to produce something, you are simultaneously showing them how valuable their endless knowledge is and giving your client the benefit of the years of experience these people have.  I know that my production team has saved my booty MANY times with issues I never even knew existed simply because I asked a question.

Look – I know you can’t get involved in every step of the production process or it will inhibit your sales.  So don’t get involved in every step.  Just get a little bit involved.  A lot of the stuff I have done has been on my free time – deliveries after hours, taking cards home and collating them while I watch TV, and coming in on Saturday to bring my favorite guys a few ice-cold beers as they are finishing up an arduous extra shift.

Maybe this process won’t help you at all, but I will tell you from experience that the jobs I sell are consistently delivered ahead of time and with the highest quality.  I genuinely care about the people who help make me look good to my clients, and in turn they care about the jobs that they produce on my behalf.

THANKS GUYS!!

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