Quick background: I work on a team of two building estimators/draftsmen for a company that is relatively new to manufacturing Pre-Fab metal buildings. The company is still somewhat figuring out who they are and what their main focus will be. Pre-Fab metal buildings are just one of several avenues they're pursuing. Point being, none of us here, including management has any experience in the field of manufacturing or erecting buildings.

The issue we as building estimators (who also happen to be relatively new at our job) are running into is that when a request for quote comes in, the sales dept., instead of looking over the drawings/specs and forwarding us the pertinent info on our official RFQ form, will simply hit forward on the email they receive, often without so much as gazing over it, and expect us to dig through all of the drawings, specs, addendums, etc... to find what we need.

In turn, they expect a complete quote along with the drawings we make that they can again simply forward to the customer without haveing to involve themselves. I think this may be due to two things: 1) the obvious one, sales dept. is simply being lazy, and 2) often times they don't have the expertise to evaluate the request properly, and so by forwarding it to us, they hope to cover up their own shortcomings.

The second issue is that when we get a building that looks to be too complicated for our current level of skill/expertise, and we inform sales that this will not be a project we can take on, we are told to do it anyway. So we sit there and try to make sense of things on our own, having no resource to go to for help, and are expected to turn out quality buildings that will not only pass engineering but also fit together well in the field.

Both of us have voiced our frustration before, but the manager kinda laughs it off in the moment and proceeds to ask the following day how far we are on the project...

What I want to do now is schedule an official meeting with our immediate manager and hope that an actual meeting will have more impact than just mentioning things in passing.

The hierarchy is as follows: CEO, GM, Sales Manager, Estimators.

My question is, do we include the GM in this meeting, or invite the sales mgr only and see how this goes before going further up the chain?

Also, any other advice on what to say in the meeting would be appreciated. I have written down a few key points on what we need from sales dept. etc...

  • Who is more expensive to employ at the task of organizing the email attachments? You or sales?
    – user45269
    Aug 3, 2016 at 16:38
  • 1
    This sounds like a profoundly broken system. Any Business 101 textbook will warn against this sort of "make it up as you go along" practice. Yes, a system does need to be worked out, and a process put in place. Unfortunatley for this to happen you have to clearly define your goals, assign duties and responsibilities, and have the full and unwavering support of management. New staff will be required. New training. This can be quite expensive. Look up some manufacturing entrepreneurship books. Prepare a solid report for your bosses. Otherwise you have no chance on selling this to them.
    – AndreiROM
    Aug 3, 2016 at 17:46
  • Thanks @AndreiROM. I put together a report and requested a meeting this morning. We'll see what happens.
    – David
    Aug 4, 2016 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


You probably have different impressions on what "Sales" is supposed to be doing.

If the sales team are "Outside Sales," then they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. It seems like you have no "Inside Sales" or "Sales Engineering" staff, and each of you (sales and draftsmen) is expecting the other team to fill that gap.

Both sales and draftsmen need to send their team leads in to meet with the CEO and GM, and hammer out a workflow on how these RFQ's are supposed to be processed.

To me, you are missing a critical piece, and both sides are expecting the other to somehow fill that role. How that role is to be filled, and by whom, is what the upper management needs to decide, and provide the necessary resources.

  • That's a good point. We don't have Outside Sales or Sales Engineering, just Inside Sales. Having no clear process defined, it's easy enough to assume (as you said) who should be handling what, which I think all of us are guilty of to some degree. And as I mentioned, often the motivator is that one person simply doesn't know how to handle a task, and hopes that others will fill the blank. Unfortunately, estimating seems to be at the end of this chain. A clear process and set of responsibilities for each position are what I hope to arrive at with this meeting (and probably some follow-up).
    – David
    Aug 3, 2016 at 16:29

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