“When you’re out in the field, make good decisions. After all, you not only represent yourself, but the entire company!”A common sales mantra
Does any of this sound familiar?
It should. Many companies close sales meetings with this message for the same reason, it’s true. Often we act as a customer’s sole point of contact. As such, in their eyes, we ARE the company.
Hiding in plain sight, however, is a more startling truth; our companies also represent us. Our family, friends, and customers, are all aware of our choice of employer. Whether we like it or not, we’re often judged based on this choice. And, complain as we may about our company’s policies, it’s still our choice to follow them – and our customers know it.
Therefore, when our employers make serious mistakes, we, in our customer’s eyes, take on some of the blame as well. Any salesperson who’s had to deliver bad news knows this is true. Even if we voice disagreement with our employer to our customers, the reality of the situation fails to change. Thus, as sincere as it may sound, complaining directly to customers is mostly selfish. Doing so, for us, feels good and for the customer, accomplishes nothing. Even worse, when we publicly complain about our company, we invite customers to do the same.
And therein lies the problem, how can we be honest and helpful to our customers when we don’t agree with our own company’s policies? How can we sincerely represent our employers in a positive manner when they fail to do so for us in return?
To break from this blame trap, we can resolve to do two things: internally advocate for the customer and make more thoughtful career decisions. When our company fails our customer, we need to bravely advocate on behalf of both our customer and our company. This can include being transparent and offering ideas for comprise. If our ideas fall on deaf ears, we should reformulate and try again. If our requests continue to fall on deaf ears, we can then consider working for an employer that better aligns with our values.
What are your values? It’s a worthwhile question to consider. Ask yourself this, if you left the field for an extended period of time, how would your company treat your customers? If they would make efforts to mimic the service you provide, you’re in a good spot. If not, your company may not fully appreciate you or your customers.
Would you want that kind of a firm representing you?