Time and time again, I encounter poorly trained sales people who, lacking an informed answer, will size me up and assume I am  a “dumb ass”. Instead of admitting they don’t know the answer to a question, they’ll rattle off just any answer.

I may not have a pretty face, but my brain is still pretty healthy. Like most customers, I usually do a pretty good job of seeking information before committing to a purchase. When I ask a question, I’m usually very well prepared. Your customers also are highly likely to be well prepared. So an insufficient or incorrect answer, made up on the spot by one of your sales people, is likely to cost you business and in some other ways, too.

Don’t let your sales people try to con customers with bad answers.  If your sales people do that, turn your attention to your sales management team and the executives to whom the sales division reports to. Everyone should be tuned to educating the sales people and other front-line employees. Money saved on training is poorly saved money…and the savings often short-lived. Too often management fails to invest in educating sales people, and testing them on product knowledge. But not just what is known but also on how to answer questions when the sales person or training does not have a ready answer. Consider upgrading your e-collaborative platforms to meet today’s needs.

E-collaborative platforms and a telephone support system for the front-line employees can pay off big time for early identification or sharing of those questions and situations not covered by training sessions. Your company should have a functional communications system designed specifically to serve your sales people and front-line staff. Fast. Responsive. I do mean: an e-collaborative and telephone support system dedicated to the sales team versus that designed for customers who inquire.

Let me expand upon the reason for this nugget. It stems from my recent bad experience at an electronics parts store of a few days ago.

I’m a bit of a science nut. I love to assemble electronic projects. The other day I needed to buy some lead-free solder for some assembly work  for one of my projects. Since I could not find lead-free solder on the store shelves I asked a salesman who promptly handed me lead-based solder with all the wrong justifications in his sales pitch. He even threw in his own health testimonial, “Look at me.” He was about 35 years old. He continued with, “I’m healthy as a horse and I always use lead solder. It won’t hurt you. Don’t worry about it. I use it all the time and so does everybody else.” He sounded like those vitamin pill commercials pimping this or that revolutionary new miracle vitamin. I wasn’t buying it.

Before leaving without his preferred solder, I did him a big favor by sharing my wisdom about the dangers of ANY lead. The smile vanish from his face.

Coincidently, upon returning home I tuned into a presentation by Dr. John McDougal about the death of Steve Jobs. As you may know it is reported that Steve Jobs died of PANCREATIC cancer, a cancer commonly related to environmental carcinogens, (cancer-causing chemicals in the environment).  According to Dr. McDougal, when the surgeons operated on Job’s “pancreatic” cancer they discovered cancer that had Metastasized, (spread throughout his body), and particularly so in his liver. In his presentation, Dr. McDougal computed time lines backwards to age 14 which was the age at which Jobs’ cancer highly likely first started to grow. At that time, and for quite a few years following, Jobs worked heartily soldering various circuit boards using LEAD-BASED SOLDER and other nasty chemicals which, in the early years of Silicon Valley, were poorly regulated.  Dr. McDougal mentioned that inhaling chemicals, such as fumes from lead solder,  is one way of initiating cancer.

The point of mentioning my experience, and the Dr. McDougal presentation is to draw a very clear picture for you managers and executives, who are reading this, to ensure you get the point that a bit more money and resources invested into your front-line training programs, including preparing your front-line staff with what NOT to say,  may go a long way to protecting your company and minimizing not only the loss of future customers but also mitigate potential lawsuits and other serious and costly occurrences due to bad information and improper recommendations.  For instance, as part of your product training sessions, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer speak to the participants about dangers of recommending a wrong product, and consequences of  lying, exaggerating, misrepresenting, and other nasties. [You may want to read my nugget about “Consequences”]

As for the status of that store that I mentioned above?  It is now struggling financially and the owner is wondering why.