Saturday, January 31, 2009

Q. How do I deal with a sales rep who has gone missing in action?

A. There may be several reasons for this, some you shouldn’t take personally and others you should.

As you know, over the summer, fuel prices went through the roof, making it more difficult for sales representatives to stop by as much as they used to. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Manufacturers, independent sales representatives and providers all felt this crunch. The representatives for rehab products were especially hit hard. Most of their equipment is large and quite often therapists and end-users want to try it before they buy it. This requires a van. Everyone has had to make adjustments to work as efficiently as possible. (At our company, we developed a telemarketing position, increased electronic communication and asked our associates to make Mondays office days.)

Another reason: The representative may be concentrating on accounts that appreciate his hard work and commitment. Sales representatives like doing business with providers that respect their time, expertise and cost. In turn, they keep providers updated on products, facilitate educational programs on their behalf and help solve problems. Do your sales representatives know that you respect them?

If you don’t believe there’s a valid reason for the representative being missing in action, call the director of sales at his company or the sales office of the manufacturer he works for to let them know.  Sometimes, the representative is working with another individual within the provider’s company and just needs to know that there are other individuals who have needs.

But even if you’re sales representative isn’t stopping by as much, there’s never an excuse for not returning phone calls.

Mike Laky is president and CEO of MSL Associates. Reach him at