Although we all agree that reinventing the wheel is a waste of time, we do it all the time at work. We would never expect a customer to buy a product or service sight unseen, yet that is typically what we do to our sales reps every time we introduce another process, program or tool intended to help them. Worse, many of these solutions are announced without any internal marketing plan. The assumption is that reps will either automatically want to use your solution or will be told to do so, so why bother marketing and selling it?
Here are a few basic steps that can transform a mediocre introduction into one that is highly successful:
Know your customer. This might be the hardest step. Your team works with sales reps every day, so you know them, right? Not as well as you think. Top reps take pre-call planning seriously and put significant time into researching their customers. This goes beyond the basics of the company product line and its competition to include understanding industry issues and barriers to the company’s growth, as well as finding clues within company annual and quarterly reports. In the same way, developing solutions that help increase your reps’ efficiency and effectiveness is possible only when your team understands what a rep’s day truly entails and which activities are pulling them away from core selling activities.
Explain before attempting to deliver value. As with any sale, the sales “customer” needs to understand the product before taking in a value demonstration. Before investing in a new solution, it is important to not only get your reps’ input, but to get their buy-in. But what about all the other tools that are currently available for reps? It may be necessary to re-explain those solutions and their value, too, especially if they’re underutilized. This is where testimonials come into play. Find internal evangelists who recommend a solution to others; document and post their stories on your sales portal.
Manage the relationship. In B2B sales, the best reps are always looking for opportunities to grow relationships within their existing customer base. When issues arise, these reps are quick to respond to demonstrate a higher level of service and commitment that separates them from the competition. Unfortunately, we do not always take this approach with our internal sales customers. It may require effort, but it is that effort that builds trust. Try this approach, and the next time your team asks for input from the sales team, you’re sure to get a better response than ever.
Don’t go it alone. Learn from your sales reps – the experts when it comes to listening, explaining, communicating value and developing relationships.