October 5, 2023
Regular readers of this blog know that I am not one of those engineers who disrespects salesmen and saleswomen. I have pointed out frequently that nothing happens in our shops unless somebody had the guts to ask for that order. When evaluating inquiries, it is very easy to overlook the effort that went into just getting a chance to do business with someone. In my points system sales considerations boil down to, “How big is this order?” and “Is there any more work behind it?” As a custom manufacturer, we did not have the luxury of turning down one-time spare part orders, but we could try to maximize our profits on them by not awarding them points in the “How Big” category. Prototype orders at least held out some hope of a follow on order, so we assigned those a single point. Once a project was past the initial prototype stage, and got to trial production, that was upped to 2 points. Initial production orders received 3 points since the volumes were usually higher. If the initial production order was spread out over several shipments or on an annual basis, the inquiry got 4 points. Five points were only awarded to repeat production orders. Developing new accounts is a high-priority activity for most sales teams; building long-term relationships with good growth potential is more cost-effective than cycling through a series of start-up firms. We routinely awarded zero points to start-up customers and a single point to new accounts that were viewed as just having passed the start-up phase. If a new account was an established, ongoing business we gave them two points. Possibly 3 points if the volume potential was high. Three points were also assigned to former customers who re-established ties; this was in recognition of the difficulty of mending fences. Big, new projects with established customers merited 4 or 5 points, depending upon the total volume of business done and payment history. So that covers the five-category, twenty-five total point inquiry evaluation system. I would be interested in your thoughts on it and the evaluation systems you use.