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The Outcome: The Sales Operation


This week, John Copeman finds out more about how the sales team operate. JC is also offering a free coaching by email service. The series involves 15 emails that will help you become your own life coach. To take part or if you have any questions for JC send an email to

Air Filters International administration manager Trudy Bradshaw explained that the sales team sent in reports daily on their activities identifying the following criteria:

She also explained that they all have a target of six appointments per day, except for key accounts. They also sent in separately their expense sheets weekly for mileage and any other expenses.

Trudy explained that her department had to organise management reports for the monthly sales meetings that collated the information by region, product and salesperson into a forecasting spreadsheet.

“So do the salespeople get their forecasts from your reports, or do they produce their own as well?” I asked.

“They produce their own as well, on a separate sheet that they bring to the sales meetings and leave copies with me after the meeting. I then have to go back to the main report and amend anything that has changed on the figures,” she said.

I asked what database software the company used in admin to collate the client/prospect information. “None, we just put the company name in the spreadsheet to identify the client or prospect. All the data is held on the internal sales database which is software called Act,” she said.

Trudy had some thoughts on how the system could be enhanced or improved.

"I think that we are spending quite a bit of time collating the information for the meetings, and finding that the situation has changed during the month," she explained. "But our updates only occur after the meeting with the sales teams individual forecasts, which seems a bit silly."

She went on: "I have been taking a look at the Act software manual, and it seems that it can be customised to create reports automatically from the data against any contact. I was thinking; if we could get the data into the system on a more ‘live’ basis, and develop a reporting template, we could probably communicate with a spreadsheet as well, and save time and increase accuracy."

I asked Trudy how the salespeople sent in their reports each week. “It’s a bit mixed, they’re supposed to be emailed as word documents, but they sometimes come faxed depending on where the salespeople are at the time. They don’t always arrive when they should either, and we sometimes have to chase them in, which adds to the workload”. She said.

I asked for a copy of the previous month's reports and Trudy presented me a folder that she obviously had ready for our chat.

I thanked her and said that I would look over them this evening when I could give them some quiet time. “So, tell me more about your time here Trudy, you have come quite a way since you started,” I said.

Trudy told me about her progression over the few short years she had been with the firm. As she told me her story while we finished our coffee, I took stock of Trudy’s workspace, and was impressed. It was neat and orderly, her files were marked on each drawer in a clear manner, and the work on her desk gave the impression that planning and setting priorities was something of a ritual.

I had not failed to notice when we walked through the admin section, that although everyone was busy, the atmosphere was energetic and positive.

We finished our conversation and I headed back to my laptop to make more notes. I was just going by Shelia when she said: “JC, Bill is on the phone and he wondered if he could have a word, I was just coming to try to find you.” “Timing is everything!” I said with a smile (which was returned genuinely), where should I take it? Shelia motioned me to the phone on Bill's desk and I picked it up.

There was a click as the call was transferred. “Hello JC, how are you getting on?” Bill asked…

    Key Points:
  • Understanding the internal use of sales reports is key to determining the flow of information into the office, and out through management.

  • Sales forecasting is vital, and yet many if not most organisations will claim that the quality of forecasting is poor.

  • Identifying the fulcrum point of information input and output is key, as many potential areas and ideas for growth will come from this area, but do not always have a major voice within the organisation itself.

  • Understanding what actually happens internally (and why) to information generated by sales, is key before asking the sales people themselves. As they do not always either know or appreciate what happens to the information they send in.

* Read all articles in this series here.


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