Monday, 17 December 2012

Internal Sales: Five ways to ensure the internal support function is successful - Part 2

In the second part of our discussion with Neil Tilsley, Managing Director of Polypipe Ventilation, he shares his thoughts on what is needed to ensure a successful and forward thinking internal sales office.

Read part one: The changing nature of internal sales for a manufacturer of building products

Be consistent and educate
Although we encourage our team to have a personal approach, it is vital they have the information, processes and guidelines to convey a consistent message. We do not want people calling and being told something different each time they call. As a result, we invest a lot of time in ensuring our team knows our information systems, procedures and products through training and briefings.

Create a culture of communication and development
Much of how a business should operate needs to be based on common sense and regular effective communication throughout the business. At Polypipe, we try and act as one team with one voice - to achieve this departmental boundaries need to be broken down to enable understanding, so everyone works together to achieve excellent customer service.

We encourage active communication lines between internal and external sales, accounts, operations, marketing and technical support. We find that if you involve people in the future of the company and listen to their views, then the company becomes more efficient and effective. It is also vital to listen and act on feedback from customers.

Be honest and keep promises
We are all judged by what we do, rather than what we say, and this applies to colleagues as well as customers. It is vital to have integrity and build trust as this provides the foundation for long-term business relationships.

We encourage honesty, even when it is not the news someone wants to hear. Honesty enables an issue to be resolved rather than be made worse.

Empower staff to be accountable
Understanding product system
options and benefits 
If our employees can gain a good understanding of our basic product system options and their benefits, it’s very valuable. Involving internal staff in briefings and discussions, as well as providing them with the resources to do their job, gives them the power to blossom. That said, it is also important they know the escalation options available to them and ensure they are supported in their role.

It is advisable to set realistic KPIs and to have regular review and role development meetings with internal staff.

Introduce function flexibility
Where possible we try and encourage inter-departmental training, as this allows consistency in service when there are holidays or illness. It also helps to make work more varied and interesting to the employee and assists them in finding their preferred role.

The customer service function in a building products manufacturer can include order input/progress, CAD support, project planning, account management, technical support and basic sales and marketing responsibilities.

In the third part of this series we will be talking with Neil about the skills and experience he looks for in a candidate to maximise the potential success in the role.

If you are interested in developing a career in internal sales or customer service, please contact us to discuss your requirements or to arrange to meet us at one of our specialised regional career development clinics for the building and construction industry. Contact us on 01480 405225 or email

Take a look at our current internal sales vacancies.

Polypipe Ventilation designs and manufactures a full range of high quality ventilation systems for the domestic and light commercial building sectors. They specialise in supporting specifiers, contractors, developers, installers and operators by providing energy-saving ventilation solutions that meet Building Regulations and save time and money on site.

As a group, Polypipe design, develop and manufacture the widest range of plastic piping products, with over 20,000 product lines available. Their primary focus is on developing and supporting pragmatic product systems through specific knowledge and understanding of the residential, commercial, civils and infrastructure market sectors.

1 comment:

  1. Great to read Neil's views all of which strike a chord, particularly from the point of view of how companies now have to change their whole culture to survive in what is a very tough and competitive environment.

    Neil's obvious recognition of the need to invest in his people through training, development, engagement and empowerment is refreshing to see as so many organisations seem to shy away from such investment in an economic downturn.

    I'm particularly keen to see Neil creating a culture of internal integration and teamwork. All too often I've witnessed people in various internal departments believing that their particular function is somehow the centre of the universe and that if they share their knowledge with others internally they will become weaker and vulnerable in some way. In fact the converse is true - you will become stronger and more valuable to your organisation if you can support others effectively.

    A significant part of implementing change in any organisation is removing the often false fears that people may have towards it. This is particularly true of cultural changes such as empowerment and sharing accountability where perhaps the most common fear is that of making a mistake. It's a fact - people make mistakes! Removing this fear, showing a little trust and encouraging your people to do likewise, with honesty and integrity at the heart of the business, will see more companies survive these austere times.