Is Your Sales Team On A Route, Too?

by Ty Bello
Posted On: 6/4/2018

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Ty Bello
We all agree that everyone on our team sells. But let's also agree that selling carries a negative stigma and some people just think it is a four-letter word (even though it has seven letters).

The majority of our businesses have our best sales representatives running or facilitating a route. This has long been a strong balance of service, selling and marketing.
Let's take some time and dispel the negative stigma of sales and also bolster our efforts to drive our sales and embrace marketing. We will explore the following:

>> Why some on our team believe sales is bad

>> How to change their thinking and embrace selling

>> What type of salesperson do we need on the route
>> How a strong sales and marketing plan can transform your business

>> How to put this all together with training, ride-a-longs and coaching
Why Sales Is Bad  

Regardless what title they hold -- delivery driver, service technician, account executive, fulfillment specialist -- there are some that just do not like selling. They would rather have teeth pulled without Novocain then to have to sell their customers on any of our products and services. This is not necessarily true for everyone on your team, but for now let's work on the negative before the positive.

The first thing we need to do is to convince and encourage these team members that selling is really service. There are many sales professionals who have represented products, services and equipment and have never sold one of them. What????
That's right, some sales professionals would tell you they never met a customer who bought a product, service or equipment; but instead they bought because of the knowledge and understanding the salesperson had both of the customer and their business.  

No One Likes to be Sold To, But People Love to Buy

This is not some spin on selling but a realistic and vetted methodology that embraces the customer as a partner and encourages the person delivering the services that selling is serving.

We have outstanding team members that service our customers with exceptional care. They are good communicators and have a good relationship with our customers. Where we let them down is our partial adoption of a selling/service and marketing strategy.

So, we know they have a stigma about selling. What have we done to build the bridge between what they feel about selling and why selling is important to them, our customer and our business?
How to Change Their Thinking and Embrace Selling

We must ensure that we are equipping the team with the information needed to serve the customer.

First, every salesperson needs to know your product and service. We must educate our team so they command a solid offense and know our products and services better than anyone else. To accomplish this, we need to have ongoing and highly engaging training sessions. This should be done at a minimum monthly and a combination of internal and external facilitators should be used.
Alternating between products and services throughout these scheduled sessions is also recommended and repetition is a key element to success.  

Making this a fun and engaging process needs to be high on the priority list. If you are not engaging and cannot deliver enthusiasm, maybe you're not the person to facilitate these meetings. After all we want this to be a success.  
In conjunction with products and services education, the incorporation of some communication content needs to be embraced. In real sales training, this is referred to as role playing. DO NOT CALL THIS ROLE PLAYING. If you want to have people not show up for the meeting or run out of the meeting, then call it role playing. But if you want engaged team members who will learn through this process, then call it communication content.

Regarding communication content, this should be normal interaction and conversation as you are facilitating. No scripts are necessary. Just ask someone a question or have them ask you a question and then you answer and frame your response in a way that will be most appealing to the customer and also comfortable for your team. You should also have a handout that has these questions written out with some pre-qualified answers. THIS IS STILL NOT A SCRIPT, just communication content.

As these meetings are facilitated on a routine basis you will get into a rhythm or cadence and that too will help drive adoption of the products and services we are selling.
What Type of Salesperson Do We Need on the Route

In vending services, we often say that it is a relational sale. Whether we use the word "sale" to describe our team or not, it is important to understand the different types of salespeople and how they best serve our customer. Also, it is good to know so we can understand our current team and any future team members that would fulfill this role.

Today let's examine three different types of salespeople and understand how they best fit our environment of selling and service. We will look at the relationship builder, problem solver and challenger. These are just three of five types of salespeople talked about in The Challenger Sale: Take Control of the Customer Conversation, written by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.  

Relationship Builder

This team member builds relationships with the customers and possesses solid communication skills and knows a lot about the customer. He or she builds advocates internal to the customer and can typically navigate through obstacles or objections. Also, he or she shares advice and consult very well.

This is a trait that should be present in every team member we ask to frequently engage with our customers.
Problem Solver

This team member takes the navigation skills of the relationship builder to new heights. He or she not only knows the people but also has a very clear understanding of the business of the customer. This person is nearly embedded in their knowledge of the internal workings of their customers. They always ensure problems are solved and are highly detail-oriented.  

Customers consider these people to be part of their team and very reliable.

This team member seems to have a different view of the world and definitely the workplace. Not in a negative way, but more like a business owner. This team member looks at their individual job as a business and they own it. So, when they engage customers, they embrace the relationship and help solve problems, but this team member goes beyond and engages the customer and their team in debate and conversation that pushes or drives the customer to new and better processes, products and services.

Customers consider this person as a vested stakeholder in their business. Review these types of salespeople and then hold this up against your team. There will be parallels to those who are currently on your team.  

Which of these types of salespeople is ideal for selling in our industry? A combination of all three, but by far the challenger is most ideal. Remember no salesperson ever starts out as one of these types. They all have inherent qualities, but these sales traits are developed over time.
How a Strong Sales and Marketing Plan Can Transform Your Business

Just like sales team members need to be developed, so does a strong sales and marketing plan. If the success of your business is dependent upon a strong team, then your team is dependent upon a strong sales and marketing plan that drives sales.

Whether you have a marketing department in your business or not, you need to develop a marketing plan and strategy. Please note, we are talking marketing and not sales. Too often, we are confused by the terminology and use them synonymously. They are very different and here is a way to help you remember the difference.  

Marketing is the Dog and Sales is the Tail

The tail does not wag the dog, but rather the dog wags the tail. Sales does nothing without marketing telling them the who, what, when, where, why and how. Regardless of new or old products and services. Marketing knows the market, the customer, and the product adoption process.

So, what does a marketing plan look like and how does this get implemented to help your team?  

We cannot possibly cover everything in this article about a marketing plan but we can explore some of the ingredients that will transform your business. Let's look at both a prospective customer and existing customer marketing plan.
Prospective Customer Marketing Plan

First, compile a list of all of the existing products and services your company provides. Next, parallel these products and services with the various types of customers you serve. From here, you can glean an understanding of the most successful products with the various types of customers you serve.  

This is the first step in transforming your business. Now that you know the product and customer base that it serves, review all known prospects in your territory and match them up with other similar businesses. Now you have a solid foundation to launch a prospecting campaign with your team.  

Second, develop a single communication or marketing sheet that showcases the products and services the prospective customer should consider adopting. Also put together a communication content sheet for your team. This should be short bullet points that they can easily communicate. This communication content sheet should be a key topic at several of your facilitator meetings and should be reviewed and even somewhat rehearsed during the meeting.

There needs to be a "call to action" step for the prospect. Tying this to cost, margin, and also opportunity will enhance the campaign.

You already know the hardest part about this marketing plan, right? Getting your team to make these prospect calls.

Well considering you have done the research and laid the ground work by gathering information about the products and services, and revealed the different types of customers that use these products and services, we need to build a bridge between customers they know and the prospect. This is where we share stories of how these products and services are working. We should never share names of others in the market, just the stories of adoption of the products and services.  

Existing Customer Marketing Plan

With existing customers, the marketing plan needs to be defined around both existing products and new products coming to market. The marketing plan for existing customers has similar components as the plan to prospective customers but is somewhat easier to execute, simply because the team is familiar with this customer.

Introducing new products to existing customers needs to be part of a marketing drip campaign. (I know the coffee folks are loving this). A drip campaign is a marketing method used to engage (in this case) existing customers to adopt new products and services. A drip campaign encompasses direct mail, email and sales encounters to inform and educate the customer and ultimately drive them to buy.
A marketing drip plan is a time-released process that systematically deposits information, education, costing, margins, branding and marketing to the customer. This is not an exercise for the faint of heart.  

Implementing and executing a marketing drip plan to existing customers can be overwhelmingly successful. This plan engages multiple departments in your business.
Planning is a large part of marketing. Gathering data, knowing product adoption success, knowing new product forecasts, and knowing the customer and prospects are essential to the success of a marketing and sales campaign.
How to Put This All Together with Training, Ride-a-longs and Coaching

The diagram used in the beginning of this article depicts the intersection of service, sales and marketing. This intersection is the sweet spot for every successful vending business.  

The success is not just built with your team, but through a process that engages and equips the team to drive sales. Sales are driven through a fully vetted and executed marketing plan and strategy. The team is energized, educated and engaged to serve the customer.

To transform your service, sales and marketing for your team, business and customer, there must be a commitment to training, ride-a-longs and coaching.
Training and education are the baseline ingredients of every successful sales recipe. Without training and education, our teams will flounder. But the information that is given in training and education must not be wasted.  

Information Without Application Leads to Frustration

We must engage our teams and spend time with them in the field. One of the most underutilized training and engaging opportunities in our industry is the ride-a-long. There always seems to be something that takes precedence over this tried and true method of training and education. This is where your team gets to know that you care about them and about what they do every day to make this business successful. This is a time when conversations can hold pearls of wisdom and insight. Don't make excuses. Schedule ride-a-longs and then actually do them.
Finally, from a coach who welcomes every chance to engage people in conversation, please make scheduled coaching times with each of your team members. To better understand coaching and more specifically sales coaching, get a copy of the Vending Times article: Sales Coaching is the difference Between Hitting or Missing Your Sales Goals.  

Your delivery team needs training, your time, coaching and, most importantly, a plan.

The best time to plant a tree is today. Get digging and make selling productive and not just active.

TY BELLO is president and founder of Team @ Work LLC.  He is an author, communicator and registered coach. The team at T@W has over 50 years of combined experience in assessing, developing, and coaching sole proprietorships, sales teams, C-suite executives, individuals and teams in a variety of industry settings.  Contact Bellow at  or visit