Question: How often should a sales manager visit the customers?

Answer: There are a couple of ways to answer the question. From one perspective, you need to have a relationship with the “good” customers in your area of responsibility. There are several reasons for that.

First, you are a boss — part of the company’s management. As such, you are perceived to have more power and influence than a salesperson. Your good customers will want to know you because a relationship with you gives them access to the higher levels of management within your organization.

Many of these customers will tell you things that they won’t tell the salesperson, such as their concerns, plans and goals.

Secondly, a relationship with your good customers provides you with a back up plan if a salesperson leaves. You need to know who the customers are, and they need to know who the face of the company is behind the front line salesperson.

Notice that the emphasis here is on “good” customers. I don’t think you need to know every customer, nor do you need to know all the prospects.

Now, back to the question. How often should you visit customers? Often enough to accomplish the above two objectives. You should visit customers with your salespeople to support the salesperson, and to add credibility to his presence, as well as to coach and counsel the sale person on techniques and strategy.

That’s the first answer. The second answer is simpler: You should visit customers more than you do. I have yet to meet a sales manager who has spent as much time in the field as he would like to.

Dave Kahle is a leading authority on distributor sales. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has personally worked with over 287 companies, helping enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine.