With the media increasingly highlighting dubious doorstep selling practices,
energy companies are facing increased pressure to clean up their sales
However, Scott Watson, Director of Performance at Summit Consulting & Training -one of the UK's fastest-growing sales training providers - believes that a chronic lack of management control and accountability is to blame for bad practices that are leading to a growing mistrust on behalf of consumers.
According to Watson, the reputation of the doorstep energy sales rep is likely to get worse before it gets better. "Although there are many honest and hard working sales people providing accurate advice to householders up and down the country, the reputation of the industry has been severely tarnished by the activities of those unscrupulous reps that choose to intimidate and mislead in order to secure a sale. According to recent Energywatch statistics, 53% of consumers felt pressurised by the tactics of the doorstep sellers and, worse still, many of the energy companies seem to be oblivious to the public hostility that this creates. It is only by tackling these troublemakers that the industry can hope to salvage its public image", he said.
And Watson firmly believes that the energy companies must take proactive steps to rebuild their reputations. "Any personnel found responsible for mis-selling should be removed from their jobs immediately, to safeguard both the consumer and company they represent. There is a vast gulf between getting information wrong and being blatantly dishonest. Reps that make mistakes should receive additional training, while no amount of training will stop the latter - dishonesty is a personal choice," he added.
And, with Virgin Home Energy recently reporting the dismissal of two of their outsourced sales agencies due to inappropriate tactics, Watson believes the excuses are becoming worn out. "A lack of corporate responsibility only serves to promote an environment that is open to manipulation by rogues. But, what these people fail to grasp is that happy customers who trust you are likely to recommend you to their friends and neighbours, as well as staying with the company for longer," states Watson.
"Until the energy companies themselves behave more responsibly, by promoting
ethical sales practices and actively monitoring customer satisfaction, consumers and honest sales reps will continue to suffer," he concluded.