Introduction to Supporting the Sales Team

Quick Summary: Positioning the sales team is as important as positioning the company’s product or service.

Abstract:

There are many tactical sales support activities that are required by all sales reps.  Those tools are certainly necessary, but are not sufficient to arm a sales team for the highly competitive, fast-moving market place.  Management must also take an active role in supporting the sales team with more strategic tools, positioning, and guidance.  Management must think of themselves as the generals that are well behind the frontlines of the battle.  Logistical support, provided by others, needs to be implemented, but only after the strategy and positioning plans are in place and clearly communicated.

In most organizations when “sales support” is mentioned, most individuals think of marketing activities such as web site creation and maintenance, collateral material publication, proposal preparation, competitive analysis, trade show coordination, and other similar tactical activities.  To be sure, these activities are very important and sales reps rely on their availability, often at a moment’s notice.  Additionally, there is a strategic element to sales support that needs to be provided by management.  Many of those activities are described in this chapter.  These activities can be thought of as positioning the sales rep for success.  These activities are very different than product or service positioning which, of course, is also critical.  Instead of placing the focus on sales reps, these activities are the responsibility of management to provide guidance and clarity to their frontline sales team. 

Management must think of their role as providing the overall strategy, tools, and resources to the sales teams that they need to compete in a highly competitive and challenging environment.  They are the company’s tip of the spear.  It is management’s responsibility to ensure that their tip is sharp and resilient.

Below is a brief description of the four sections in this chapter, followed by the list of the articles along with a summary for each.

Chapter Sections and Summaries

  1. Building a Sales Team

Startups and newer, smaller companies all face the challenge of building a sales team.  In many cases, a company will simply hire a “great” sales rep based on a personal relationship that someone in the company has with that individual.  Articles in this section describe a number of factors that should be considered before building the team.

 

  1. Fighting the Fight

Every company needs to constantly focus on the profitable growth of revenue.  Although each sales opportunity needs to be carefully nurtured and managed, there are some common elements that should be considered in all sales opportunities.  This section discusses some of those issues.

 

  1. Field Trials

Field trials can be excellent sales tools that provide external validation and help customers become more comfortable with the presumed risks associated with purchasing the offering.  However, field trials can become a very expensive activity and significantly lengthen the sales cycle.  Articles in this section provide some insight into the value and timing of sales trials and when they may no longer be appropriate.

 

  1. Sales Impediments

There are sales impediments that appear in every sales opportunity.  Acknowledging what they are, which are common, and what to do to avoid or counteract them is a key element in closing sales.  Articles in this section discuss methods to identify and respond to impediments before, and when, they occur.

Chapter Articles and Summaries

Introduction to Supporting the Sales Team

 

Positioning the sales team is as important as positioning the company’s product or service.

First, Have Something to Sell

 

Completing development is only one part of having an offering that can be sold and supported.

Hire the Second Best

 

Sales reps need to be scrappy for new companies or when entering new markets.

Establish the Rules

 

Sales reps are creative and will naturally push the rules, set them clearly first.

Cooks in the Army

 

People have to unlearn old habits before they can learn and embrace new ones.

Prospects are Everywhere

 

Focus on serving one segment instead of the total imaginable market.

Unleashing the Team

 

Develop a strategy and plan for the sales team and then get out of their way.

The CEO Sales Rep

 

There are significant upsides and downsides for the CEO to act as a sales rep.

The Cost of a Win

 

Not all orders are in the best interest of the company or the customer.

Ask Before You Sell

 

Ask prospects early and often about upcoming product features and capabilities.

The Biggest Challenge

 

Customers are reluctant to make fundamental changes to use your product.

Sell Before You Sell

 

Make sure the customer knows they have a problem before you offer a solution.

Provide More Than You Sell

 

Maintain the relationship long after the sale by keeping in contact with the customer.

Annual Reports and Other Hidden Sources

 

You can learn intimate information about your prospects through public information.

The Gonna Factor

 

It is easy to make commitments about the future that we quickly forget.

Are You Ready

 

Be sure to be ready with all of the support mechanisms in place before you launch a product.

A Few Finishes Versus Lots of Starts

 

Focus new product field trials with respected customers who will allow public references.

A Trial Blink Test

 

Suggest Conditional Sales instead of Free Trials to move the buying decision forward.

A Trial Final Exam

 

Ask the customer at the end of the trial for a candid assessment.

There is Always a Reason

 

Thoroughly understand sales impediments and develop plans to avoid or resolve them.

Analyze Don’t Rationalize

 

Maintain objectivity when prospects question new product capabilities.

A Sales and Marketing Tool

 

Objections from prospects can help to optimize products.

 

 

Article Number : 5.020101   

A Handy Reference Guide for Executives and Managers at All Levels.

9 Volumes 36 Chapters ~500 Articles

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