Get out of your way and let technical colleagues close deals for you
“You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be the best salesperson.”
It is hard for salespeople to acknowledge that they need the support of others in the company. We don’t want to show any signs of “weakness” within our company or to our customers. However, I would argue that asking for the input of your other team members actually demonstrates your self-awareness and integrity. It shows the customer that you are serious about your product and the relationship you are building.
I have always found this very tough to accomplish. You see, salespeople are competitive, and that can get in the way of what we are going to discuss in this chapter. While I love the passion and competition in my fellow colleagues and myself, it can also lead to the demise of our careers. We have to know when to step back, and let the non-sales team members close the deal.
The first thing we must recognize is that we are neither the smartest nor the most technical people regarding our product(s). We may be pretty damn good at selling the features, however, the people or engineering teams that designed what we are selling are much smarter than us! Once we have that dialed in and understood, we can leverage their knowledge to close deals. Yes, I said it. CLOSE DEALS!! LET’S GO!
I love selling; I love trying to be technical. But I know that I am not nearly as technical as some of my counterparts. I am always trying to calculate how to bring an engineer on the call, and how to get them in the mix in the meeting. Engineers, or techs, are really good about asking blunt, hard-hitting questions that come off unassuming since they are “trying to gather information”.
When we have the ability to bring a technical individual into our sales process, we need to take advantage of this. I know some salespeople absolutely cringe at this. What if they say something they shouldn’t or aren’t perfect with their words? That is totally fine, and in fact can be beneficial. It humanizes our sales process and our company. It adds value to our organization and validates our company in our respective industry and space.
The medical industry has used this tactic for years by hiring medical specialists such as nurses, pharmacists or physicians; they are most often referred to as medical liaisons. The model is fairly simple; arrange a big meeting with an important prospect or customer and bring these knowledge wealthy colleagues to the table to aid in closing our business. When a surgeon has a conversation with a fellow health care provider, it takes the conversation to another level. They start speaking a different language and can have more in-depth conversations. It helps build the surgeon’s trust in the product since another medical professional can vouch for and evaluate the data to back up the product.
This is not only applicable to the medical industry. In fact, it can be used in ANY industry. We can bring software engineers, product engineers, technicians, etc. to the table to aid in our ability to close a deal.
Now that we understand what taking a step back means, let’s evaluate how to execute the process. This is often the most difficult part. We value our account or customer as “our baby” — we grew the account and established the relationship, so we want to have control and recognition that WE grew the business. Sales people are prideful, which is essential to fuel our competitive drive. However, we must not forget that we are all the same team, and we all benefit from closing a deal!
The key to utilizing non-sales team members is recognizing when a customer has questions that are beyond the scope of the sale. As salespeople we want to have all of the answers for our customers, but we have to be careful not to speak to technology, products, or literature that we do not fully understand. After all, one of the worst things we could do is make a false claim or lie about our product(s) capabilities, whether that lie is intentional or out of ignorance. Recognizing these questions or needs from our customers allows us to effectively utilize our non-sales specialists.
Once we have established the need to bring in the experts and have identified the right technical people to bring to the table, we must facilitate proper conversation to get us from point A to point B. To optimize the meeting time for our technical team member and our customer, we need to fully brief our technician on the history and details of our customer’s situation. This doesn’t necessarily mean to tell our technician how to sell or close. They will do that indirectly by validating our organization. Instead, share a brief history of your business with the customer and explain the type of information the customer is asking for.
When our technician is prepared on the details of the account and what we are trying to accomplish, we make all parties aware of who will be attending the meeting. After proper introductions, we assume the norms of the sales process until we find a good place where our specialist can add value. We just don’t introduce our tech and voila we get a sale! We must go through the proper sales process and continue to qualify the sale and uncover needs. Remember to peel back the onion. When the opportunity arises for us to pass the torch, we do so in a confident way. If a customer asks a technical related question to me, I usually lead in with “Mike, what are your thoughts? You have had really good experience with project “x” and this seems very similar.”
I worked with an outside sales rep that was absolutely incredible at this. He was not technical at all; in fact, he was below where we liked most of the reps to be. However, he was the best at stepping back. He brought more deals to our company than any other outside sales rep. He also knew when and how to bring technical team members to the meeting. This skill helped him triple his sales territory in three years!
Understand when the right time to bring a technical person into the sales cycle is. Don’t be the person that always feels the need to bring someone in to every meeting. Alternatively, don’t be the person that is too prideful and knows everything. Technical people are great selling tools. They allow the sales person to take a step back and let their counterparts validate their company or product.
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Best of Luck!