The title of the featured photograph is No Solace which seems appropriate for today’s topic covering the paradox of super sales reps who ruin your businesses’ reputation.
You think you’ve hit pay dirt when you come across a sales professional who seems to have the chops to bring in a lot more bacon and who just happens to be looking to relocate to your city. Your sales are flagging because the recession has dumped hundreds more competitors into your market, and you’re getting a bit desperate. You’re a relatively small, local contractor without the resources to head hunt top sales people, and the sales force you do have are struggling hard to close deals when the competitors’ pricing and tactics are cutting your reputable business off at the knees.
Along comes Mr. Superstar. You interview him, you like what he has to say. You hire him, and things get off to a rocky start.
A learning curve is inevitable, so you are patient. Mr. Superstar seems to be willing to learn your contracting process, so you work closely with him until he assures you that he’s got it down pat. You relax a little. After all, he’s the pro, been doing it for years, has a background in insurance adjusting and isn’t afraid of your technology. He demonstrates an ability to use your Customer Resource Management application, so what’s to worry about, right?
You soon find out.
Within the first month, he’s brought in a lot of contracts, and they are eye-poppingly profitable. But then comes production. The contracts come up in the queue, and the Production Manager discovers that Mr. Superstar’s mouth wrote a few wrote checks that production can’t cash. Ah-oh.
Somehow you get through it after some conciliatory discussions with the customers and firm corrections to Mr. Superstar. But there’s no confusion that some of the customers are not as pleased with you and your company as they otherwise should have been. But boy, the P&L on those jobs were fantastic. You think you have things worked out with Mr. Wonderful Superstar so those issues won’t come up again.
As the season wears on, you find that very nearly all of Mr. Superstar’s contracts have some serious flaws, and he hasn’t really been taking your instructions to heart. But he’s been pretty darn good at fibbing to cover his you-know-what. He keeps making the same slew of promises that you can’t fulfill for whatever their reasons. Worse still, you find out when the payments are late that your customers have been waiting for Mr. Wonderful to come perform some uncontracted work that he promised to do on his own time to close the deal, and they aren’t going to write that final check until he does. Hoo, boy. Now what? He won’t fulfill his promises and you hadn’t planned on having to hire someone else to get that surprise work done. And the receivable keeps on aging.
You also find that he has made similar uncontracted promises to a lot of your customers that he simply avoids when it’s actually time for him to make good. You and the company you have so conscientiously brought to an A+ BBB rating are starting to get complaints and bad reviews, and all because Mr. Wonderful Superstar promises moons and stars without your knowledge.
But without his hugely profitable contracts, you may not have been able to keep your company alive until the next season. It seems the classic Catch-22.
If you have ever suffered this dilemma, The Letterista would dearly love to know how you handled it and what advice you would give to other companies who fall into the same trap.
The story today is factual without the identifying details. It was a real situation. Eventually, the company had to downsize so dramatically that it is not the same thing any longer. True, the ACA, Workers Comp, new competitors willing to defraud the insurance companies with customer approval contributed mightily to the company’s contraction, but after the run with Mr. Wonderful Superstar, referrals and high praise on the review sites fell off a cliff and they had to contend with a lot of bad reviews. How much business could have come in the door if the company’s public persona had not taken such a hit we can only speculate.
You know what’s really funny about it? The customers absolutely loved Mr. Superstar while absolutely blaming and hating the owner of the company. Sigh.
Please comment or contact The Letterista with your horror stories of money-making reputation destroyers. We suspect there are quite a few out there. How would you like to have your story featured in an upcoming post?
Featured photo by Don (https://flic.kr/p/7UrusE)
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