Due to the Pandemic’s impact on in-person workshops, clients have asked a few times to break up the regular two-day sales playbook rollout into smaller sessions. Of course, I oblige. For some other clients, we have been putting off a live event. Instead, we hold one-hour “minis” to give salespeople lessons and materials they can execute right now.
This week during one of the latter one-hour sessions, the sales leader asked me to spend a few minutes helping with an issue her team needed to address: What to do when subject matter experts have to join sales calls but they haven’t yet been exposed to the processes, messaging, and disciplines which we were discussing and everyone is so busy there isn’t adequate time for a proper prep call?
This client sells large highly technical services in a fully complex sales environment where their own subject matter experts are often engaged with multiple people on the buying team.
This question was not part of our agenda, but I recognize it as an important one. In the moment I thought of the following five best practices:
- The Salesperson must take the stance of an orchestral conductor: let each person on the team know in no uncertain terms who is in charge, what their responsibilities are in the opportunity and on the call, and what is expected.
- Even if just five minutes prior to a meeting send your conversation recap emails to the subject matter expert(s) for them to review. Ideally, these emails are already loaded into the CRM and the extended sales team (the experts) has access to them. This should frame the meeting they are about to join.
- Treat the agenda (and write agendas!) as a “run of show” that ONLY the prospect can alter. At some point prior to this meeting, salespeople and sales management must impress this fact on everyone else who may help out in a sales effort. Do not deviate from the agenda.
- Less is More. Scientists, engineers, technologists, etc. love to show and tell. Don’t let them unless it’s within the confines of the agenda and previous conversations (which the recap emails document). Showing (off) too much can open up areas of discussion that can delay, or worse, hurt your opportunity.
- Ownership. It’s one thing to be recognized as the conductor for the meeting; it’s another to be recognized as the OWNER of the opportunity. No one messes with the owner’s authority. The owner owns the action items list and all follow-up. Don’t allow subject matter experts to run wild within your opportunities unless you 100% trust them to stay within your guidelines for communicating with prospects. Work hard to be on every call between technical buyers and your internal resources. At the very least, make sure they have guardrails around their interactions with prospects.
In closing this topic, I also shared a story about helping a client write an internal Service Level Agreement between the sales organization and the technical team. This document set out the roles, responsibilities, and promises between the two groups when working on opportunities.
So, if your own sales efforts rely on the expertise of engineers, scientists, and product managers at your company I suggest you become a virtuoso conductor guiding your orchestra of experts to success.
What do you think? What would you add to this list of best practices?
SalesReformSchool: Food for Thought
I read The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber this winter. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an ownership interest in a business, has even a faint thought about starting a business, or merely wants to better understand ownership thinking. You do not have to be an entrepreneur to enjoy and benefit from this book. I took a lot of notes. Here’s one that has stayed with me:
Your Primary Aim is your innermost driving force. It gives you a sense of direction and purpose. It motivates you to your highest levels of energy, and puts you at your best. Your Primary Aim is about leading a life that is consistent with your core values and beliefs and it’s the essential starting place for any business.
What’s your primary aim for what you are doing right now professionally?
What’s your primary aim for what you are considering doing professionally?
Which camp are you in? The “drink water when you are thirsty” camp, or the “eight (or more) glasses a day” one. Stanford educated M.D. Peter Attia has done the research and agrees with me.