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Support Your Memorial Counselors

      
Ed Horn's picture
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          An inherent conflict exists between Counselors who are commission driven and management that is salary based. It is hard for many in management to accept anyone earning more than they do. Yet commission sales insure a lively and active sales team thriving daily to achieve the income many in our profession require to keep our doors open and our businesses vital.
 
          This conflict usually does not come into play if the management is owners who directly benefit from the profits realized through the energies of a productive sales rep or a team. Under those circumstances the limiting factor that may interfere with mutual good is envy or greed by the owner. 
 
          Cemeteries or Funeral Homes owned or operated as non-profits or through corporate entities seem near sighted in their relations with the sales force they are dependent upon to make the bottom line number. Regardless of the status of the business ownership our profession is bound by the same requirements of making money as is every other business. It is surprising therefore to find acrimony and lack of respect shown to the counselors we depend upon.
 
          I know of a cemetery which specializes in hiring and firing its sales counselors and sales managers on a regular basis. The Board of this cemetery is confounded when income from sales fails to improve. The Board has come to believe it is the fault of the counselors assigning no responsibility to the management team that objects sales reps earning more money then does their immediate superiors. Fortunately this cemetery, like many others has a large endowment which supports their needs. 
 
          The conflict that arises internally is visible to visitors. The resulting strain with the local community and the disdain that follows by their Clients for the Cemetery seems of no relevance to the Board. The Board's sole concern is for the bottom line to break even or increases due to passive investments. This Board is typical and fails to serve the purposes the Cemetery was founded to serve. The negligent stewardship of their cemetery may not be intentional but is the reward for not acknowledging the need to insure the absence of internal strife between salaried and commissioned employees.
 
          Supporting Memorial Counselors requires more than not envying their success, it demands involving managers in assisting the counselors to do even better than ever before. An intelligent sales manager does not write or plan his options and obligations from a binder setting forth rules that serve no purpose other than to establish a pecking order. Direct communication with each counselor is demanded. By doing so strengths, weaknesses and ideas are permitted to flow easily allowing teams to be constructed for the common good. Through daily contact potential problems are handled prior to becoming serious and selling plans can be conceived. It is the means to determine what does work, who is working and when changes should be considered.
 
          Managers who do not maintain contact with the public are denying themselves vital historic and immediate information about the health and well being of the entire condition of their Cemetery or Funeral Home. Sales will result or be severally impacted by even the smallest facet of the daily operation. A Client who has words with a maintence man will not be inclined to consider purchase of pre need memorial property to be near a loved one. A sales rep who takes the time to establish relations with a family will assuredly enjoy continued communication and additional sales from that family.
 
          Promoting counselors is of tremendous importance. The egos of sales reps are precarious and precious to their employers. To serve their needs is to fulfill the requirements of managers seeking improved sales and deeper community contact. If a counselor has a knack, talent or niche it is important to help that rep make the most of their good fortune. This mandates spending time with the rep and ultimately committing funds to enable the rep to reach a goal that serves the interests of all the parties.
 
          At St. Michael's Cemetery we have put into use the talents of our Memorial Counselors which has rewarded the Cemetery with a dependable impressive increase year over year in pre need sales. The building program has reached the stage that we are actively building our 11th community mausoleum. Our success achieved through our Counselors has permitted us to plan future major construction which will insure our financial health for many years to come. Daily we reap the benefits for unleashing the talents and desires of our Counselors.
 
          The community responses have empowered us to project our Cemetery as a citywide resource not confined by the limits of our property. Politicians and citizens approach us daily to work with them to achieve goals that directly benefit the citizens of our great City and the Cemetery. By doing well for others, we have done well for ourselves. It all began with removing the limits and the restrains placed upon our commissioned Memorial Counselors. At St. Michael's management has joined the reps as team players. What is good for the reps is even better for St. Michael's.

RE: Update for Blog entry: Support Your Memorial Counselors

Very interesting post, Ed. In every business the front line sales people
constitute the major, if not entire, public face of the organization as far
as prospective customers are concerned. I know in my own experience I have
often made a purchase because of an enthused sales person who communicated a
positive "vibe" about the company - and have almost never made one in spite
of someone who did not seem entirely positive.

Ed Horn's picture

RE: Comment for Blog entry: Support Your Memorial Counselors

Joe

It is nice to know someone is reading the blogs.

It is battles I often find myself in versus management who somehow believes
they are the foundation.

Ed

Usually lots of readers

Hey Ed, at any given time during the workday there are 50-70+ people online here. You can see by checking that "Who's Online" widget on the sidebar of the Cafe page. Not many bother to log in, but we usually have a lot of readers for this little soapbox of ours.