"If you would have sold this system correctly, we wouldn't be having this conversation", says the installer.
"Maybe you should have just installed it the way it was supposed to be and this can of worms would have never reared its ugly head", replies the salesman.
Accusations fly, egos take over, disrespect ensues, and you have a brick wall between the first two people your customer comes in contact with. Why do many companies struggle with this very visible partition separating sales people and installers?
Many sales people believe they are the backbone of the company. "Without me out there closing the deal, you would have nothing to install. I bring in all the money for this company and without me you would have no job!" Without ever saying it, some salesmen feel the installer is little more than a clerk whose job it is to simply go out and do what they're told. With this mind set, there is often an adversarial undercurrent going on at a company which can last for years.
Installers on the other hand are generally quite technical in nature. I would even say that many of them are perfectionists who become angry when something isn't done correctly, or when they are forced to install something they feel may not be proper for the particular application. "Well, Mr. Backbone, if it wasn't for me you would have nothing to sell. Here are my tools, let's see you go install it yourself!" Usually without ever saying it, the installer feels that the salesman is making all this money, rarely breaks a bead of sweat, knows nothing about how this equipment works, and acts like a prima donna.
Most companies recognize this as something going on, but rarely consider ways to redirect it. Imagine for a moment that your company is a human body. If the sales people are the backbone and skeleton, I suppose the installers could be the arms and hands. Perhaps the service techs are the legs and feet, the central station operators the heart, office staff the blood, and management and ownership is the brain. In this scenario the whole is the sum of all parts. Without any one of the parts, we all would have a big problem. Weaving the fabric of a close-knit team entails mutual respect, understanding, communication, and information. Sadly, many companies do not intentionally blend the recipe necessary to tear down the wall.
Everyone is busy doing their daily tasks. Many of us have a lot on our plate and -- with very few exceptions -- people just accept the fact that sales people and installers generally do not see eye to eye. And as long as that sometimes adversarial relationship doesn't affect our customers, it is something we can live with.
But before you get stuck in that mindset, I want you to ask yourself, "How much more effective could my company become by intentionally working to tear down the wall between sales and installers?"
There is no doubt that to a very large degree, this issue can be resolved through communication and information. My question is whether you ever sat various individuals down face-to-face to discuss their differences and their challenges? Who of you reading this today, has taken your entire sales department and your entire installation group and put them in a room together to share information with the intention of tearing down the wall that stands between them and how they feel about one and other?
Having orchestrated this successfully at many companies, I can tell you that very often a professional outsider has a keen advantage in directing the dialogue in a benign manner by raising issues everyone in the room can relate with, but often doesn't articulate. By providing certain scenarios and asking the group how they might deal with a specific situation, I have seen both sales people and installers offer creative and tangible solutions to problems they may have never had the platform to communicate on. This kind of face-to-face meeting usually results in both sides laughing at themselves a little, and at the same time they will learn something about the other which helps to bridge the gap between them in many meaningful ways.