What’s your value proposition to the sales organization?

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This post is mainly for the non-quota carriers out there. Or maybe it’s for quota carriers looking for a little help from their friends!  We’re all in it together, right?

If you accept that nothing good happens until someone in your company sells something, then it might be worth your while thinking about how you help to make that happen.  This was how a CEO of one of our customers (I will call him Jim) explained to me how he gets everyone in his organization fully aligned and supportive of the sales organization.

Jim’s perspective was simple. He’d ask each of his employees to describe their value proposition to the sales team. Jim felt that unless each of his employees in marketing, product development, customer service, operations and finance, understood that at least part of their job was to support the sales team, then something was wrong; and the way that he would test it is that periodically he would ask each person to articulate his or her value proposition to the sales team as their customer.

I love the simplicity of Jim’s approach.  It’s an extension of the old saw ‘Everyone is in sales’ but applied in a practical way that gets everyone to understand why in fact that must be true.  So, I thought I’d try to extend Jim’s approach just a little bit. Before the sales person asks his colleague “Hey, what did you do for me lately?”, it might be worth calling out some of the areas where the sales team might need help.

[For the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume that the sales team is perfect .  Okay, you can get up of the floor now.  It wasn’t that funny, really it wasn’t.  But if I try to explore the foibles and inadequacies of how sales interacts with their colleagues …. that’s for another day.]

Here instead I wanted to adopt the voice of the sales team, set out some hypothetical problems that many sales organization face, and ask my imaginary colleagues in Finance, Customer Service, Product Development and Marketing for their help. If any of the  issues mirror yours, then you might like to forward this blog post to your (non-sales) colleagues.  It might prompt some discussion,

  • Voice of Sales to Finance: Please know that if I ask for approval on a discount, or special payment terms, it’s not because I don’t want make the effort to sell the value of our solution, but because I’m finding it difficult to get the buyer to accept our standard terms.  You could help me perhaps by working with me to develop a statement of ROI for my buyer that you would be happy to walk through with the customer.  And, on the special payment terms item, I’m not clear about what is important to you – total revenue, recognized revenue, cash-flow, or profit.  If you could help me understand your priorities, then I will manage my negotiations with the customer with your priorities in mind. You spend a lot of your time negotiating with vendors? You probably understand my customer’s financial statements better than I do?  How can you help me close more deals, at a higher margin?

Insert your answer here: ____________________________________

  • Voice of Sales to Customer Service: I spend a lot of time finding and closing new customers.  I really care about each one of them.  I could ask you to not screw up the relationships that I’ve built – but that would be insulting, and I know you will not do that.  However, as you know selling more to an existing customer is sooo much easier (and profitable) than finding a new customer, so I need you to wow them.  If I’m setting inaccurate expectations – please tell me how you think I can do a better job.  I think what we do is awesome, and you guys are amazing, so sometimes I might get a little carried away.  So, what can you do to help me sell more to our existing customers, or ensure that each one of them wants to be a zealot reference for me?  How do we set the bar high, and then really exceed it?  How can you help me?

Insert your answer here: ____________________________________

  • Voice of Sales to Product Development: Look, I know you want me just to sell what we have today.  You don’t like me asking for new features, or making promises to customers that you can’t live up to.  I’m cool with that.  I do think our products are the best in the market, but sometimes there might be a feature or two that the competition has that creates FUD, and I need to really understand deep down why we’ve chosen not to deliver that feature.  I know this might be marketing’s job to help me understand that – but your perspective would add value.  But you’re really smart.  You know why you’ve built the product the way you did, and I know you take a customer perspective, but can you please tell me how you can help me sell more?  What’s your value proposition to the sales team?

Insert your answer here: ____________________________________

  • Voice of Sales to Marketing: Ok, we’re joined at the hip.  Some of my colleagues would say that the difference is ‘Sales is measured and marketing is not’ but that’s not my perspective.  I depend on you.  Here are my current challenges.  I don’t have enough opportunities.  I don’t mean leads, I mean opportunities.  I can’t get access to C-level executives. Is that me, or is it our messaging.  As you know, I’m doing ok YTD, but I’m worried about H2.  You done Trojan work putting all of the marketing materials on the marketing portal, but I’m not sure what to use or when to use it.  I’m not looking for a silver bullet (well, I am but …) but how can you help me solve these specific problems; more opportunities (not leads), C-level access, what marketing docs to use, and when to use them.  If these are my problems, what’s your value proposition to the sales team?

Insert your answer here: ____________________________________

*****

I’ve been thinking about this issue for quite a while, (in fact, we will shortly announce a new edition of Dealmaker that improves overall organizational alignment around sales) and I’m a firm believer that once (1) you get the whole organization aligned around sales, (2) and sales values that fact, and (3) everyone realizes that effective sales starts from the customer’s perspective – then you can achieve uncommon organizational productivity and velocity.  At The TAS Group, we call this rightful impatience, and I think it’s at the core of whatever success we achieve.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, particularly if you share it with your colleagues, I’d be really curious to know if it makes a difference.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Donal Daly
Donal is Founder and CEO of The TAS Group the creators of the Dealmaker intelligent sales software application. Donal also founded Software Development Tools - acquired by Wall Data (NASDAQ: WALL), NewWorld Commerce, The Customer Respect Group and Select Strategies. Donal is author of five books including his recent #1 Amazon Bestseller Account Planning in Salesforce. He can be found on his blog at www.thetasgroup.com/donal-daly-blog or on Twitter @donaldaly

3 COMMENTS

  1. Outstanding post Donal! Everyone sells–or at least supports sales. At the same time, it’s important for sales professionals to reverse the point of view, what value to we create for the people who we need to support our efforts in selling to customers? To often, sales people aren’t selling within their own company to get the support they need, but “expect” it.

    Thanks for a great perspective!

  2. Jim’s simple approach was great. I love it. “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” That coming from a CEO is not a common theme.

    Being from sales, I would be proud to sell for any company whose CEO truly towed that line. Sure CEO’s want to report top line revenue growth, but the business of engineering, logistics, and finance often get it the way. In 2009, Forrester published disturbing results that up to 19% of SG&A expense is buried in hidden cost to support sales. To fix that problem I would add one question to the mix. No matter what function, process or activity, ask, “what is their value proposition to the customer?”

    Quoting Jim, “We’re all in it together, right?” starts with the voice of the customer.

    Don’t get me wrong, truly “nothing happens until someone sells something” but with the understanding the organization is listening to its customers fist and arming the salesperson with that.

  3. Dave, Seamus

    Thanks for the insightful comments. In truth of course, it’s all about the customer, and I’d take a (perhaps contrarian) view that unless we delight our customers that all other activity is pointless. When you’ve a happy customer they pay their bills on time, they buy more, and they act as reference accounts for future business.

    But then, if you extend the definition of ‘your customer’, then sales needs to delight their internal customers (marketing, finance, etc.) and each of the other functions needs to delight the sales function.

    When you get to that level of internal harmony, it usually translates into a well served customer, and that ultimately grows the business.

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Donal

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