Chapter 10. Questions That Develop and Sustain External Business Relationships

In the past, it was customary for companies to maintain separate sales and operations management divisions. The sales division focused on drumming up new business, prospecting, and calling on potential clients. Once a contract had been signed, it then shifted the accounts over to operations. Meanwhile, the operations division maintained these client relationships, putting out fires, assisting on technical issues, and making additions to the contract as it suited the clients' needs. As companies become more streamlined, however, they often make the decision to save money by melding the two divisions. In certain circumstances, a company will disband its sales division and turn over those responsibilities to the operations sector. The reasoning behind this move is that the operations managers already know the customers; likewise, they know the products and services the company provides, making them ideally positioned to sell to the customer in the future.

This shift may seem like a no-brainer to many executives, but it can be downright terrifying to operations managers who realize that selling is now part of their job descriptions. The last thing they want is to start sounding like a used-car salesman—"What can we do to get you in a car today?" The good news is that if you are one of these managers who suddenly has had sales added to your job description, you most likely already have a number of important ...

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