Dear David: Implementing a customer rotation system

Home Columns Dear David: Implementing a customer rotation system

June 6/13, 2016; Volume 30, Number 25

By David Romano

Dear David:

I keep hearing about my veteran sales associates “stealing” customers from rookies. These seasoned RSAs supposedly claim they know customers or have worked with them in the past, passing off people they view as “tire kickers” to rookies. I met with my veterans and told them to cut this out but they all denied it was happening. I find it hard to believe these rookies are not being truthful. There has to be some merit to what I am hearing.


Dear Enlightened Owner,

You are in desperate need of a good “ups” and “on-deck” customer rotation system to help evenly and fairly distribute sales opportunities. This can be confusing so let me explain a bit more. An “ups” area is where the next available sales associate must be present to greet the next customer. It is sometimes in the form of a desk, a designated area behind a service counter, a podium or a table near the front door. The intent is that within a few seconds a customer is greeted by someone who is prepared and eager to build a connection and close a sale. The person at the ups desk should not have access to a phone or a computer in this space. You don’t want the greeting associate to be tied up on a call or have his face behind a screen.

The good news is implementation is pretty straightforward and easy to carry out. Here is what needs to be done:

  • Form a focus group of sales associates to establish a draft of the rotation rules
  • Meet with the remaining sales staff to present the rules and ask for input
  • Determine the best system to notify sales associates they are the next up or on-deck for sales
  • Create a final draft of the rules, hand it out to sales staff and go over the policies one more time
  • Designate “ups” and “on-deck” areas on the sales floor
  • Spend a good amount of time to ensure everyone understands and is adhering to the system


An “on-deck” area is designed to keep the second salesperson in an alert status so he can jump to the ups area when it is his turn. Many times the on-deck person is the one who handles all incoming sales calls as this associate has access to phones and a computer.

One helpful way to organize shifts and floor positions is the “golf ball” method. You start by getting different colored golf balls for each of your sales associates. At the beginning of each shift you pull out the appropriate colors and load them into the dispenser based on the ups rules. When a sales associate leaves to complete an estimate, takes a break or just needs to get caught up on quotes, his ball is removed until he becomes available.

Be sure to create framework for the following:

  • What constitutes an “up”
  • How to handle referrals
  • What to do during breaks
  • What happens when the requested sales associate is initially busy but later becomes available
  • How to handle turnovers or assisting customers of other sales associates
  • Who handles all incoming sales inquiries
  • Protocol for when sales associates attempt to take over a sale from someone else

I know it sounds like a lot but if you take it piece by piece you will be just fine. If the issue continues to rear its ugly head and you are sure your system is waterproof, you may be faced with having to make a hard decision and terminate your biggest offender to send a message to the rest of the staff. Remember to be steadfast and consistent.

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