It all boils down to whether your corporate culture tends to marginalize or include cross functional support throughout the sales process.
When you think about it, the majority of complex sales initiatives focus on the Buyers Journey and consummating the initial sale. The remainder of that newly won client marriage is tendered by relationships between internal support folks on both the buyer’s and seller’s side of the business equation.
Are you missing opportunities by not having the client’s extended family meet your organization’s extended family prior to the wedding? Otherwise, you may be short selling yourself.
Set appropriate customer expectations by feasting clients on your commitment to customer success.
Decision makers are skeptical about deciding whether – or not – to do business with you and your organization. In many ways, you ask them to take a leap of faith. You want them to journey into uncharted waters, especially if this sale is the first time they do business with your company.
Will you be committed to their long-term success? Do you care how well your product, service and equipment allows them to serve their own customers?
One of the best pre-sale means of demonstrating commitment to customer success is by demystifying the post-sale process. Before you two get married, strive to make “what” and “who” lies on the other side of a signed contract known and familiar during the initial sales process.
During pre-sales intitatives:
- Include the customer and supplier-side folks essential to supporting implementation and maintenance of your solution.
- Capture client expectations during these collaborative meetings.
- Make certain to define realistic and feasible expectations within scope of product and service specifications being negotiated.
- Showcase your cross functional sales team as a collaborative partner for your customer’s team.
Customer success leverages customer experience while journeying towards a solid customer retention strategy.
If your sales strategy involves recurring revenue from upselling, cross selling and renewal (and what strategy doesn’t?), do not be shy about discussing during the first sale.
No one likes post-sale surprises. Even from sales newbies anxious to close a contract and equally concerned about derailing the sale by discussing what is next.
When you marry a cross functional sales team to your client’s team, everyone has met everyone else. So when you talk about opportunities for upselling and cross selling and renewal, your client side team is familiar with the individuals with whom they will work down the road.
Create anticipation and expectation of collaboration. Deploy your cross functional team as part of overall customer experience and commitment to customer success.
Building a solid customer retention strategy by leveraging customer success creates a timeline and milestones for when “children” will arrive on the scene after your initial marriage.
When will software upgrades become available? Which ones are mandatory? Nice to have but not essential? What is the average equipment lifecycle? Will there be performance degradation along the way?
Marry outside of the status quo. Start by creating a cross functional sales team for consummating key complex sales opportunities.
Your current organizational culture may not do a whole lot to promote working in cross functional sales teams. Why should their biases and mindset restrict you and, ultimately, limit client development opportunities?
Not all current sales scenarios may require a cross functional sales team. However, by collaborating across corporate silos and professional bias and mindset, you become a smarter seller.
As you develop a cross functional sales perspective, you attract new types of customers offering more lucrative and long term opportunities. These clients want to be courted by a sales professional with their own, pre-assembled, cross functional sales team.
It all boils down to moving 1 millimeter outside your current level of sales comfort. Make what currently is “unknown” a known quantity.
Whom would you include on your cross functional sales team? What makes these individuals so valuable to your customer’s experience? How might they impact your customer retention strategy?
Babette Ten Haken is the Founder and President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC. She has one of the most distinctive voices in today’s workforce, professional development and customer success communities. She traverses the interface between tech workforce hiring strategy and developing collaborative technical and business teams focused on customer success and customer retention. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: nacroba. Image source: Fotolia