You are more than comfortable selling to your prospective clients, or what I call dream clients. And when your prospective client wants something difficult to deliver, you are happy to sell your sales manager or leader on why you should do something different to win a complicated deal. But for too many in sales, you are completely oblivious when it comes to selling the team that delivers those results for your client. Let’s call that team “operations.”
I get it. You want what you want. You need your operation team’s help delivering for the client. This begins when you need information to put a solution together and continues on into delivery of of that solution. So you badger, bully, and press them for what you need. You go over them, under them, or around them, anything to ratchet up the pressure and force your operations people to do more, faster, and perfect. You argue your case to anyone who will listen.
But the one thing you don’t do is sell your operations team. And that is a fundamental mistake that only rookies make.
The selling we do inside our own organizations is every bit as important to producing results as the selling we do outside our organization. Here is where to start selling inside.
Lunch and learn: You would move Heaven and Earth for a lunch and learn with your dream client and their team. But you can produce an equally great effect by developing the relationships you need on your operations team. Take someone from operations (or a couple of someones) to lunch so that you can learn about their constraints. Go with the agenda of learning how you can help them with all of the things that make their job difficult, like unmanaged client expectations for example. Don’t ask for anything; just work on the relationship.
Engage them in the sales process early: If you want your operations team to own the account once you’ve won it, engage them in the process of selling that account as early as possible. When you’ve done your first discovery visit, share all of the details of that meeting with your team. As early as you can, get them in front our dream client so they can hear for themselves what “our” new prospective client is going to need. The sooner that prospect becomes “ours,” the more willingly your operations team will take responsibility and own the outcome. You’ll be surprised at all the things they can do to create value for your prospective client if they get to listen to them speak about what they want.
Be respectful of their role and their time. You sell. You don’t do operations. You can’t imagine their world unless you spend time learning what that world looks like. Your operations team is busy delivering for your company’s clients all day every day. They’re really busy, and they don’t have nearly as much freedom as you do in sales. That can make it difficult to give you what you need when you need it. You need to negotiate the commitments you need, being respectful of their role and their time.
Get them help when they need it. You’re the salesperson. So sell. If your operations team can’t deliver for you because they don’t have the time or resources, go and sell management on giving them what they need. You want to make friends for life? You want your operations team to move your requests to the front of the line? Then dig in and help them. Even if you can’t get your operations team what they want, when they discover that you are their advocate, watch how fast your relationship changes.
Show some appreciation. We started at lunch, and we’ll end there. Take some folks to lunch to say thank you for their support. Bring them breakfast. Send a personal thank you note. Send the director of operations of note to share with her the wonderful job her team did helping you win an account. Tell the stories of how valuable the team is to everyone who will listen and build them up. If you want to make serious deposits in the relationships you need to serve your clients, show appreciation.
All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still win. You know it is your job to make all things unequal when it comes to selling your dream client on you and your company. Now apply that same idea to the team that delivers those results to your clients once you win their business.