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Tough Call: Tyler Texter

Your newest sales rep seems to communicate only by text and it’s created a problem with one of your biggest customers. What would you do?

You’ve built a stellar reputation at Handshake Lumber. Custom builders big and small trust your company to supply their projects. Business is so strong, that you recently expanded your outside sales team. One of the sales- people you recently brought on is a little different than the others—mainly, he’s young. That’s what you liked about him. The kid grew up in construction, and he blew you away in the interview process when he name-dropped all the next-generation builders he knew in the area. “We’re on a first name basis,” he said about the son of one of your best customers. “In fact, we text all the time.”

That texting, it turns out, has a downside. It was great, at first, when he’d turn in orders from builders who haven’t done business with you in a while. Tyler was able to connect with them in ways that your current salespeople just weren’t trying. Tyler caught on quickly and within the first few months, could hold his own in sales projections. Then came the phone call.

Builder Brian, a longtime customer of yours and a guy who you consider to be a close friend, asked why he was looking at a load of materials for a project he had yet to order. His crew was still tied up with a current project and when Brian noticed a truck delivering materials to a nearby lot for his next house build, he thought there had to have been a mistake. But no, your driver showed him the bill of sale and delivery instructions, and that Tyler from your company had signed off on it.

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When you brought Tyler into your office, he explained that Builder Brian’s son, Bobby, had texted him a link to a materials list for their company’s next project, and so Tyler treated that as an order and entered it into the system.

Builder Brian laughed when you shared what you thought was a quick explanation. “Your company does business with me, not my wet-behind-the-ears son,” Brian said. “The materials might be right, but I don’t want them for two weeks yet at the earliest. Plus, my son is still learning the ropes here and is in no way authorized to place an order this size.”

You apologized to Brian, let him know that your driver will be out today to pick up the order, and assured him that this wouldn’t happen again. Tyler, meanwhile, is pushing back on any restrictions to his sales process—insisting that he did nothing wrong. What would you do?

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NO TEXTING. Tell Tyler that texting is too new and causes too many problems. No more texting with clients.

SIGNED P/O. Texting didn’t cause this problem, Tyler did. Explain that a signed, dated P/O from an authorized purchaser is required before an order is official.

SET SOME RULES. Tyler is clearly onto something. Meet with your entire sales team, talk about Tyler’s successes, and brainstorm and agree on ground rules for texting as a sales tool.

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LESSON LEARNED. You clearly need to handle Builder Brian’s account personally, but since that’s the only problem, there’s no need to restrict Tyler with his other accounts.

What would you do?


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