Should the words “courtesy visit” be struck from salesmen’s vocabularies?
What do these visits suppose? Are they effective? How much do they cost the firm? And, are they really any use?
When visiting companies to talk to salesmen and their managers and directors, sooner or later someone, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, always prides himself on making some courtesy visits every week.
In the strictest sense of the word, the courtesy visit is the biggest waste of time and money of all the activities of any salesman. When any of the sales team has time to do this, it indicates a total lack of route planning, bad time management and a total misunderstanding of the aims a sales visit is supposed to achieve. Salesmen who make courtesy visits are really thinking: “It’s just round the corner, I’ll drop in and see if something turns up…”
The main problems posed by the courtesy visit are:
- Non-existence of route planning.
- Visits have no defined aims or targets.
- No strategy behind visits.
- Disregard for the planning of visits according to client potential.
- Unnecessary waste of department resources.
- Possibility of upsetting client with unannounced visits.
- Wasting resources on pointless visits.
- Non-professional attitude on the salesman’s part.
- Tiring the client.
One may feel that, historically, some goods orders and/or sales opportunities have resulted from unannounced visits of this nature. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I will say that they are only anecdotal.
A professional salesman or a professionally organised company should only visit clients under the following conditions:
When scheduled in accordance with the guidelines and criteria established by the company.
When the visit is to achieve one or more specific objectives.
Some of these are: place an order; present a new product; solve a technical enquiry; propose a marketing initiative; present an offer…….
When they are on the road and the two conditions above apply
When the client specifically requests a visit from a salesman.
As I always say in meetings with businessmen and sales team: “There’s no such animal as the courtesy visit, but be courteous in all your meetings!”.
See you soon and good hunting!
Consultant in sales and marketing strategies at International Team Consulting