Learn why schools no longer need outside reps
It’s hard to imagine our society without cell phones and computers. But 30 years ago, pay phones and note pads were a way of life. How ineffective was that? Some reps were fortunate enough to have large clunky phones with cords that often got tangled. Talk about a driving hazard.
Once upon a time, reps had to stop what they were doing and find a payphone just to check voicemail messages. Talk about unproductive.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way in a short time and it continues to evolve at a breath-taking pace. Likewise, school fundraiser companies can service their customers much faster and more efficiently by phone and email these days than by using local reps.
Sponsors grew accustomed to having periodic visits from reps. If they needed to raise money for their group, this was the only choice they had. In person contact was how they learn about what products they could sell. Companies relied heavily on local representatives to go in and get the sale.
Reps could also interact with potential customers at trade shows, like PTA and PTO conventions. However, these days more people are getting the information they need electronically instead. And most recently, according to CNBC, coronavirus fears are wreaking havoc on the tradeshow industry. Many are predicting that this may lead to an even further shift away from these types of large gatherings.
With digital technology, companies are able to provide personalized consulting and exceptional service instantaneously. Sponsors no longer have to wait for a rep visit. They can get information whenever they need it. Schools can find program material online that can be customized to meet their specific goals without having to meet with a sales rep.
Raising money and reaching financial goals are what really matters to sponsors. Making the right product choice that their community will support means getting access to the right information quickly and easily. They also need to be able to run their program efficiently as well. This means receiving timely customer support and updates. Sponsors can get this from anyone, not just a local rep.
Everyone wants to work with people they know and can trust. In person contact for many is still important. We get that. But times are changing. So how does a customer service specialist beat a local rep in today’s environment?
Local Fundraising Rep Drawbacks
Local sales reps can only be in one place at a time. Because they’re assigned to manage an entire territory by themselves, response time may be limited. Customer service can become compromised if they happen to not be good at managing their time and resources.
Customer response is actually more important at the company level. If the company they work for doesn’t have the right systems in place to address problems and issues, sales reps won’t be able to solve them at their level either.
Another consideration is the issue of high rep turnover. Don’t get too comfortable with your rep. According to Xactly, a company that provides sales performance management services to other companies, sales rep turnover is increasing. This means that there are a lot more inexperienced representatives still learning how to do their job and are thus not able to take care of even minor issues as quickly.
The chances that you’ll get an inexperienced rep are might higher these days. As a result, many schools are forced to deal with problems caused by poor service. The reason may be because their rep was:
- Not trained well enough to deal with certain issues.
- Not organized with their time and thus not able to respond in a timely manner.
- More focused on selling their program to the next school as opposed to taking care of their existing customers.
- Working for a company with internal inefficiencies.
Fast Customer Service is Most Important
The bottom line, schools want companies they can trust to help them solve any problems quickly. They only want the fundraiser to do what it’s intended to do, help them pay for their expenses. Anything more than that is an added burden. Raising money quickly and easily, regardless of how it gets done, is most important.
A readily-available and well-trained customer account agent can solve problems much faster over the phone or by email than having to wait for a local rep to respond. Reps often need to contact the company before getting back to the school with a solution anyway. This slows the response time because another layer is added to the process.
Good School Fundraiser Sponsors Get Results
A successful sale is mostly dependent on the sponsor, not the company or rep. The real money is made after the kickoff. Sponsors will need to be able to handle things like:
- Reminding and motivating students to sell.
- Updating students and parents as needed.
But when you have a problem, how quickly will it get resolved? Knowledge is power, and having it when you need it is even better. Thus, providing customers with excellent resources before the sale is most important. Being able to access information when needed translates into a smooth running sale.
With few exceptions, a well-run customer service department is more effective than any local sales rep.
Yet, even with all the advantages, we have to say that there is one potential negative. The one on one human interaction is definitely on the decline. We still need that personal touch in spite of initially thinking that better technology would ultimately solve all of our problems.
Times used to be a lot simpler back in the day. We still managed to make lots of sales and were actually able to see the smiles on sponsor’s faces after a successful school fundraiser. Perhaps that’s a reason there’s still a few local reps out there.