This is part six of The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager (this link is part one). Read part two: Choosing Your Sales Goals and Accountabilities. Then, read part three: Building Your Sales Activity Plan. Then read the two companion pieces, part four: Reviewing Your Own Sales Pipeline, and part five: Reviewing Your Own Sales Opportunities.
Business-to-business salespeople don’t succeed on their own or by themselves. They succeed through and with the efforts of their team. There are all kinds of people in operational and management roles that contribute to producing the results that a business-to-business salesperson promises and sells. In many cases, the salesperson contributes less than the operations team after making the sale.
But to achieve those results, the salesperson has to do a lot of selling inside; they have to sell their own team and management. A good sales manager provides a lot of air cover, working with management and the rest of the team to make things happen. Without a sales manager, you are going to have to master the fine art of developing your internal relationships and selling inside.
Everything that follows is good advice even if you do have a sales manager.
There is an old saying that those wish to retain respect for laws and sausages should never watch either being made. The same could be said for a lot of what is required to produce some of the outcomes we promise and deliver to our clients.
When you bring on a new client, there is a learning curve. Even if you do a wonderful job selling, you do a terrific needs analysis, you do a perfect job of capturing their vision, and you are prepared to do an impeccable job handing off the client to the operations team, things go wrong and things need changed.
Even if you do your very best work to ensure you can deliver what you promise, there are unexpected surprises and modifications that have to be made. Naturally, there is resistance to these changes within your own organization.
This is where sales and the rest of the organization can end up on different pages, even though both want to do well for the client.
Selling inside is often more difficult, more complex, and more messy than selling to your clients. Without a sales manager, you are going to have to work to make sure you can deliver. You are going to have to get way out in front of this to get what you need.
Selling Is Selling Is Selling
Some salespeople despise having to sell inside. They believe that since they and the operations team both want to produce what the client needs, that operations should simply make the changes necessary. We don’t treat our clients this way because we know that it isn’t effective and that real change requires more from us. We would do well to remember this fact when we need to lead change inside.
Selling is selling.
To succeed at selling inside you have to apply the same rules, processes, and methodologies that you employee when you are selling outside.
You have to do your homework. You have to build a consensus. You have to develop the relationships that you need before you need them, and you have to develop trust. You have to capture other people’s vision of what can be done to achieve the result you are trying to help them obtain. You have to help them understand what changes need to occur, and you have to move them to make commitments and take action.
You know how to do these things. You do these things all the time and you are successful. That is why you have clients and why you have things that need to be changed within your own organization.
The salespeople that embrace the fact that they have to sell inside do well at getting what they need for their clients. They aren’t upset, unhappy, or overly emotional. They sell inside like they sell outside.
It’s a mindset.
Build Your Internal Network First
Once you understand and accept that selling inside is required of you in order for you to do well and succeed for your clients, you have to start the way we start in all sales: opening, nurturing, building, and leveraging relationships.
You get know people within your own organization by going out of your way to spend time with them.
You nurture these relationships by finding ways to create value for the people on your internal team. You do this by finding out how you can help them deliver for your clients. You do this by helping to understand their constraints. You do everything in your power to give them what they need before you ask them to deliver, whether it be time with your client while they are still a dream client or whether it is the information they need to know in order to do their job.
You build these relationships by sending a thank you card, by taking them to lunch, by bringing them coffee, and by helping them get what they need from your clients.
You work for your team; they work for you. You give your team air cover; they give you air cover.
When you need something, you need these relationships. All things being equal, relationships win, right? All things being unequal, relationships still win. If you want this team to execute for you, work to make it easy for them and appreciate what they do for you.
Build It: Make time to meet with your team. Make time to find out how you can make their ability to deliver easier and more certain. Take some to lunch. Send thank you cards to anyone who has gone the extra mile for you.
Treat your internal team like you want them to treat your dream client.
Without a sales manager, you are going to have to sell your management team. It isn’t always going to be easy and it isn’t always going to be pleasant. Listen, sometimes you are going to lose. But you are going to have to sell and sell again, even when you lose.
Your management team may not understand what your client needs. They may not understand why your client needs what they need or how the constraints of their business make it so your solution doesn’t work as well for them as it might. They may also be as obstinate as all Hell. You may also frustrate them to no end.
Without a sales manager, you have to lead them. You have sell them.
This means you need to bring your A-game. You are going to have to be sharp as a razor when it comes to business acumen and making the business case for giving you what you need. You are going to have to know what changes you need made, what it’s going to cost, and what your company can expect to get in return for making these changes.
If you did the first part of this right, you will already have your operations team’s consensus and support; they will have helped you create your compelling case for making changes and for doing what must be done.
You will need commitments for your management’s time, and you will need the opportunity to present your ideas. You know how to do this. You know that, just like a boardroom presentation for a prospective client, you are going to be seriously challenged. Prepare and present the very same way you would were your management team a client’s management team.
Make the sale.
And if you don’t make the sale, do what is right and keep selling. Stand and fight (respectfully). Take your management to meet the client. Ask them to sit down with your internal team to discover other ways of getting your client’s the result they need.
You never give up on pursuing your dream client. Never give up on doing what is necessary to deliver. You have to do this and you have to capitalize on your existing opportunities.
Plan to Lead Up: Build the case for change. Build consensus. Meet with management individually and collect their concerns. Work with your team to come up with ways to overcome the constraints. Build and present your case when you have built consensus, and be prepared to be challenged to prove your ideas.