Engage Them, Don’t Avoid Them (bring them onto the team)
Managing the Sales Prevention Department and the Vice President of We Can’t starts with engaging them. Even though selling inside is sometimes more difficult than outside, avoiding having to sell inside is not an option; it simply leads to failure.
Putting together a winning deal strategy means getting your entire team aligned around building a winning solution for your dream client. That means building a proposal that wins based on a solution that succeeds for your dream client. Without engaging your entire team—even the naysayers and the obstacles—you cannot bring your best thinking and your best effort to bear on your dream client’s problems and opportunities.
Start by engaging your team in strategy meetings. Share your client’s problems with them so that they can help you develop the right solution.
Engaging your team may not be easy, and it will take making this a regular practice before it provides the results you and your team will later come to expect and rely upon.
Building in this engagement is step one. The next step is to press them for real solutions; the solutions to your deal problems.
Press Them for Solutions (How Could We?)
Having your team help you with solutions is important. But it is sometimes even more important to also share with them the constraints and challenges that you face in winning the deal. Most of the time, they are in some way involved with the constraints.
Start by identifying the elephant in the room and give it name. Tell them what internal constraints may prevent you from winning the deal. Tell your team how internal constraints may shift the deal to your competitor—making your competitor their competitor. Help them understand how your dream client—their dream client—will view your solution and your competitor’s solution.
Telling your team, even the Sales Prevention Department and the Vice President of We Can’t, what you have to do to win isn’t the right approach. Instead, you need to press your internal team for what they would do in order to win the deal. Pressing them to participate in winning the deal makes them part of the process. When you engage your team this way, it is surprising how resourceful that they can be. You will find that your team has all kinds of concessions that they can give, all kinds of special arrangements that can that they can make, and that they will do more to win the deal than you would have believed possible—or that you would have been able to do without them.
You might find that by pressing your team for solutions that the Sales Prevention Team becomes your real Sales Enablement Team and the Vice President of We Can’t becomes the Vice President of “Let me tell you what we can do.”
Take the Long View and Nurture Internal Relationships
Developing internal relationships requires the long view. These relationships—like all of the relationships you develop with your dream clients—take time and nurturing. If you want your internal team to be on board with helping to develop your winning solution and your deal winning strategy, you have to spend the time and energy building relationships that are based on your trust and your respect for what your team knows and for what they do.
Nurturing means caring. Nurturing means listening to their ideas. Nurturing means buying lunch for no reason other to listen, to understand, and to strengthen your relationships. Nurture these relationships for no other reason than to build trust.
If you would have something other than a Sales Prevention Team, you are responsible for creating something different; you are responsible for selling them and making them part of your deal strategy team. If you want to replace the Vice President of We Can’t with a Vice President of Finding a Way to Win, then you have to enable that change to occur by bringing them onto your team. This means nurturing and building relationships, and taking the same long view towards them as you take towards the dream clients that you and your team both need to win and to succeed.
Selling inside can be every bit as difficult as selling outside. You need to manage your internal team so that you can build a deal-winning strategy free from the constraints that might otherwise cost you your dream client. Sell inside.
- What responsible do you have for whether or not your internal team acts as part of your strategic deal-winning brain trust or sales prevention?
- What do you need to do now to start engaging your internal team in way that allows them to share in helping you to create a deal winning strategy and to remove or overcome the internal obstacles that might prevent you from winning?
- What should you be doing now to engage your entire team’s resourcefulness, their subject matter expertise, their situational knowledge, and their best thinking to help you recommend a solution that will win—as well as a deal strategy that will win?
- What do your risk by avoiding your team? How does avoiding your team make your implementation and your execution more difficult should you win?
- How do you intend to share the credit with your team when they help you put together a deal winning strategy, knocking down the internal barriers to a deal on your behalf?
- Write down the five people you will take to lunch over the next five days to build and nurture your internal team. Send the invitations right now. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and to listen and learn. Then, invite them onto the team.
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