Many organisations have a substantial delivery team who, if they’re any good, have a privileged relationship with customers, ideally placed to help grow business.
The mantra “we all sell” is oft repeated but what understanding of selling do these service folk really have? It may be an assumption, an expectation, that they’ll work hard to get upgrades and new business but many delivery professionals may see it as, “a conflict of interest”, “someone else’s job” or “unprofessional”
Smart companies are proving that non sales people can make a real contribution to the drive for more business without compromising their values, relationships or professional standing.
As products become more commoditised and service becomes the differentiator we’ve all had to become more “customer focused” , that’s meant that an army of professionals delivering services of one sort or another has grown over the years, inevitably developing a really close relationship with customers.
Whatever the labels, “Consultant”, “Architect”, “Contract manager” ,“Project Managers”, “Account Managers” their activities contribute hugely to the customer relationship. They often have a well-earned privileged position of trust with customers and, as a result, can hear more about new opportunities than sales people.
In these tough times sales teams are often focused on new business and major deals (to maximise productivity) leaving service folk with the assumed responsibility to secure orders for upgrades, extensions or renewal of contracts. This is a highly significant source of revenue but how many of these service folk recognise the expectation or have the skills they need for this role. How many are given the support they need to do the job well?
A major barrier may be that it’s not regarded as professional to get involved with the commercial side of the business even though everyone wants the business to do well and everyone recognises that’s how they get paid.
Much of this attitude stems from an ignorance of what sales is about; at best it’s trivialised with “the gift of the gab”, worse with some of the murkier techniques so loved by used car and double-glazing salespeople. As a result both management and staff may ignore the need or consciously avoid the association with selling, they fear to compromise either the trust they’ve developed, their personal relationships or perceived professional standing.
A clear distinction has to be made; service folk are not going to be turned into sales people. But they can and should learn some selling techniques to help them do their job better.
With the right approach it’s not difficult to change this perception, to develop a more positive attitude to gaining orders and improving teamwork with the sales team. There are a number of ways we’ve found of making this work in practise:
- Developing and using a portfolio of success stories enables people to be more helpful to customers when a need arises and lays the foundations for a potential sale by developing interest
- Becoming familiar with the industry-standard ways of exploring needs such as SPIN, SCORE or similar methods can deliver a better understanding of a customer’s business and that enables a more meaningful business level conversation to be held
- With a basic understanding of solution-selling your customer-facing service folk can work more effectively with the sales team, identifying needs, qualifying opportunities, articulating a case for action
There are many ways of making it work and they need to be tailored to each situation, each company. The level of challenge and responsibility for securing business given to service folk depends on the structure and culture of the company; but whatever way is chosen, you’re missing a trick if you don’t equip your non-sales people with some basic sales skills delivered in an appropriate manner.
We’re happy to introduce you to some of our clients, clients pleasantly surprised by their year-end results after starting along this path.
“Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect and passion in their operation.”