The life of a sales person

Sales people spend most of their time on the road seeing their customers. Some teams are given targets for how many customer meetings they need to have a week and what percentage of their time they need to spend client-facing. It’s increasingly common for customers to require their sales team to be onsite, which can be great for developing customer relationships, however, the downside is that the admin really builds up and sales people end up spending evenings and weekends trying to catch up.

It can be a lonely job and it’s not unusual for salespeople to function quite independently from their team members. This is reinforced by individual commission pay and with performance measured by the amount of business they’re bringing in. With economic pressures for customers impacting the new purchase of products and services, hitting targets has become increasingly difficult and in some cases, impossible, with the amount of effort to close even the smallest of deals having dramatically increased. On top of this, competition has intensified and competitors are willing to take a loss on deals in order to get a foot in the door especially in major accounts.

The pressure faced by sales teams is often intensified, with lack of administrative support in recent times. The amount of support from pre-sales and sales specialists, in raising quotes, processing orders and escalations has reduced just as the need to be involved in hardware and service escalations and customer demands and expectations have increased. The net result of all of these is huge pressure on sales from management and customers.

For all these reasons, from a customer reference perspective, it is often assumed that sales people are difficult to engage, and to a certain extent, this is true.  However, there are things we can do to help sales and get the information we need and to ultimately assist us in fulfilling our reference needs.

Three tips for success:

  • Be very specific on how much time you need from  a sales person and how much of their customer’s time they need to ask for, eg. 30 minutes from sales for a background interview, two forms to get signed by their customer and 30-40 minutes for an interview.  Then 15 minutes to review the document. Show them how this won’t take up all of their time!
  • Fill in as much information as possible on forms, emails etc, minimise the dreaded form filling, remember, admin goes to the bottom of a sales person’s work pile
  • Be patient, not hearing back from sales isn’t necessarily rude!

We hope you’ve found our handy hints to be useful, for more information on how to engage with sales teams from the person in the know, contact Seona McLeod at

Seona MacLeod