Sales vs Production

Internal conflict hurts sales.

I am a production manager by training. After over 13 years in the role I still can vividly recall frequent orders to make huge quantities of product with impossible timelines. It did not make me like sales people. Or the sales department.

Do your internal teams spend more time fighting or one-upping each other than working together to serve the customer?

Many people's gut reaction to that question is a very quick self assessment followed by an affirmation that they focus on the customer.

Next question - “If you were to honestly look at the time spent in meetings, coffee talks, water cooler discussions and general office chit-chat could you, hand on heart, say the primary focus is on how to serve customers better or what other people/departments aren't doing?”

‘Water cooler’ / ‘smoko’ room small talk is a great gauge of the internal harmony and focus of organisations. What, you may ask, does this all have to do with sales? A lot!

As discussed last week "Confidence Sells” -

One of the most crippling situations a sales rep can be in is when he/she does not trust or believe that production will deliver.

This can be compounded when the close relies on meeting a tight delivery timeline. The tension is intense … the internal conversation a heated debate … “Say you can, get the order and fight with production while running the highly likely risk you will have to grovel and apologise to the customer later ...or… loose the order ‘knowing’ you will never meet the required delivery date”. - Welcome to the world of sales - a sad reality for far too many reps. The internal conflict often lands up coming across as a half hearted promise, that you can deliver on time which lacks inner belief and transfers no confidence, leading to a lost sale.

An action point for you: Ask your sales and production team (& purchasing/logistics team if you are more of a buy/sell operation) members to rate how they feel they work together on a scale of 0-10 (0 = Awful & 10 = Amazing). If it is not 10, ask what would be required to close the gap. Often a lack of trust and poor communication underlie the sales/production relationship. Solid discussions where people can tackle and attack the problem (NEVER the person) can quickly identify some quick win areas.

Sales people tend to be more risk takers and production risk adverse. This can translate to production adding a few days “knowing” sales will over-promise. Sales then learn that production does it quicker than they say, so they do not respect ‘agreed’ production timelines and the self-fulfilling prophecy becomes a negative descending spiral that leads to further mistrust and angst.

Have the tough conversations. Make the space safe. Encourage openness. Let people be honest and vent. Attack the problems. Instill a solid confidence in each other, the system and the business and you will see sales rise.


As always if we can help facilitate discussions, brainstorm sessions or training do get in touch.