“Nothing happens until someone sells something.”
This is a mantra that has revolved around sales teams for decades. My father first instilled this notion in me, and it has since followed me throughout my professional career. And I have learned that even before someone sells something, you have to be able to convince and motivate your sales team to be excited about selling that something.
Building a solid services practice is an aggressive process. From business to business, there is bound to be a degree of deviation in how management teams conduct the operations of their practices. However, in my capacity of driving value through sales for various companies, I have found that focusing on selling services with these following three tenets has been crucial to helping my practices realize success.
Make your product or service easy to sell.
I subscribe to the notion that if you believe in and love whatever it is you are selling, the job is made much easier. The old trope that the mark of a great salesman is measured by one’s confidence and gumption isn’t necessarily wrong, but there’s more to the picture. It takes a genuine care for what is being sold and a passion for the customer’s needs. So anything that can help make the sales process easier is going to enable your team to trust the product and company, in turn helping you meet and exceed goals.
You want to forge a path of least resistance for your sales persons. Your sales team will undoubtedly sell better if you take care of them, lower the ramp-up barrier, and provide ample resources to access knowledge. It is a good idea to construct pre-built assets such as proposals, SOWs, one-slides, and first call decks. Sales folks want to close deals fast and are driven by bookings. Knowing that their sales support team is going to respond quickly and turn things around quickly is huge. Your goal should be to make it effortless for a salesperson to present the service to a customer.
However, as a service or product manager, a certain level of austerity needs to be maintained. You aren’t bending over backwards and conceding to every whim of your team. The whole idea is supporting your team and giving them a process that is crisp and easy to use. You should still implement stringent sales process rules and train your team to understand the value of these rules.
Change how you think about your sales team.
In most companies, salespeople have the ability to sell multiple products or services in order to attain their quota. Just making your offering easy to sell isn’t always enough. As the owner of a practice or product line, it’s your job to support or service the sales team to help motivate them to continue to push your offerings into the market.
In order to accomplish this, you have to shift your mindset about the role of the sales team. I’ve found the best way to begin thinking differently is to consider your sales team as customers. Your ability to support them should be viewed as a tangential service provided to a customer—they’ll continue to sell your products or services if they know you will help them close the deal. You have to take care of them!
For example, at Simplus, in addition to providing our sales teams with pitches, SOWs, and the creation of proposals and quotes, we also provide an SLA for turnaround on these assets as well. As a rule of thumb, I use 24 hours on all proposals, SOWs, and questions related to an opportunity. By eliminating these clerical and administrative tasks, we set our team up to do what they do best: connect with the client and understand their needs to move the process forward.
Crown a champion.
Where would the world be without a healthy dose of competition? The desire to be the best is what drove the Space Race in the mid-20th century. It’s the reason that we have several new iterations of smartphones every year. Competition is the fuel of innovation, discovery, and success. But it doesn’t have to take place on such a grand scale—you can bring the spirit of competition to the bullpen to spur your sales team to close deals.
Perhaps the most effective way to drive competition is to crown a champion of your sales team. This is someone that goes above and beyond what is expected of their position. Reward your sales team members that understand the value of the product or service and are selling it well. Acknowledging and rewarding success will light a fire in other team members so that they may reap the benefits as well (and sell more of your product or service).
As the sales manager, the burden is first upon you to encourage and nurture the mindset of your team as sellers of service. If you are able to think about your sales team as a customer, make the sales process simple, and establish rewards for great performance, you are almost guaranteed to drive unprecedented value into your organization through your sales team.