In the spirit of helping you manage your clients' expectations instead of them controlling you, I want to share with you the principle of “Sales tasks” vs “Production tasks”.
“Sales Tasks” are likened to walking into a car showroom and sitting with a salesman. They’ll walk you through the type of car you want, the color, auto or manual, etc etc that is a Sales Task and not chargeable.
However, once an order has been placed and it goes into Production then that’s chargeable. So the price that’s quoted should, therefore, include the time spent on “sales activities “ or the hourly charge out rate should allow for the “sales time” to service your client.
The way we keep control of this is as follows:
We provide 5 minutes for free and then inform the client (should the task is anticipated to take longer than 5 minutes).
In other words, we manage the clients' expectations FIRST before committing time on their behalf.
How is this done In practice?
If I received an email with 10 questions on it I would answer it very quickly (within 5 minutes) with yes / no answers or “need more info” or “need to research the answer”, “will need to spend more time on this” then I conclude with…
“I hope that addresses your concerns, but if you want me to spend more than the free 5 minutes I will need 2 hours at $250 per hour. Please let me know if you like me to go ahead?”
What I found was that 50% would say “no that’s ok” (as it was just a thought bubble and wasn’t a serious question and certainly wasn’t prepared to pay for it) and the other 50% were serious and prepared to pay for it.
This way you are managing them and not letting them manage you and drag you into their nightmare. In a way, it’s just leadership from us to let them know what the rules are as they don’t know. They just ask questions as thoughts come into their heads and if we allow them to keep taking advantage of us then they will. Their response is usually “well he should have said something. He should have managed my expectations” Namely, they were waiting for you to lead …
So for everyone in your firm, anything done should be “quoted by the cost first”. In other words, discover exactly what the client wants and the best test of that is quote the price before committing your time. You will then separate the tire kickers who can cost you money and the genuine people who will pay.
The 5-minute free procedure is a gesture of goodwill in extending some help (because they are a client) but at the end of the day time is money and it needs to be paid for and that’s what you are saying to them subliminally when you offer 5 minutes free. Then get quotes signed off from the exact cost to go ahead so there are no surprises.
With that said…
If your team are grinders in the production division then their productivity should be 95% as they are purely production and nothing else. So these team members should just be 95% production with no distraction of “sales tasks”.
The sales task will only be from your Client Managers.
So now it's best to do some training. No lots of training. As some staff, you only need to say it once to them and other staff 4 to 5 times and others 10 to 20 times before they change habits. It’s the persistence and frequency and consistency that will change habits and remain changed
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