You’ve created an excellent product or have offered a new service to the market, with which clients are extremely satisfied. Customers are happy to recommend your product to friends and acquaintances in other companies. Industries your product is designed for are growing steadily and reliably, and there are no unpredictable situations in the market.
Under such conditions, selling comes easy, as does exceeding set targets, and management is happy to give out generous bonuses every quarter. All this is happening in some planned rhythm, without much surprise – there is always more than enough work, but never so much that everything couldn’t be done.
The problem is that everything is almost never all that easy. The times are turbulent, and companies that have been operating safely and undisturbed crumble overnight. Whether you like it or not, at one point you will have to look for new customers in new industries or markets.
For long-term success, you need to have a product or service that sets you apart from the competition. It’s hard to imagine a company that would do good business for a long time with a bad product. Additionally, if the product is good, the sales representatives will believe in it and convey the same to the buyer more easily.
Who is the ideal sales representative?
The product, as good as it might be, will not sell itself. Clearly, it is also necessary to have a competent sales representative who is capable of explaining all the benefits of a product to potential buyers. And, of course, to ultimately close sales successfully.
A good sales rep will take on the role of client consultant and build long-term relationships with them, based on trust. Such a good relationship with the client will enable them to take advantage of potential opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell of new products and services.
A sales rep will also be a person who will, if necessary, be able to locate and activate new customers in other markets or other industries, thus ensuring further expansion of your business.
So, the ideal sales representative should be:
- An expert – a person who knows all the key details and product characteristics. They will know how to demonstrate the product and give the client answers to all possible questions.
- An advisor – a trusted person who knows how to use their expert knowledge and can recommend the product that best meets customer needs.
- A hunter – a person who will use their expert knowledge to locate new potential clients in new markets or industries, contact them and convert them to new satisfied customers.
Are all your sales reps like that?
Probably not. But if it’s any consolation, neither are ours. And quite possibly, neither are anyone’s.
Global experience shows that this universal Expert / Advisor / Hunter selling tactic almost never works in practice. The same person who excels in selling to existing customers can completely botch the quest for new customers. Also, a salesperson who wants to find new customer prospects may not find excitement in routine meetings and solution demonstrations to existing customers or in writing complex bids.
You can continue looking for an ideal sales representative or choose an easier way – specialization of sales functions, specifically an introduction of two separate new sales functions:
- Sales Development Representative – this is a sales function whose primary task is to find new potential buyers. These are potential clients who are not currently in touch with your business but are for some reason recognized as good customers for your solution – for example, for the product you offer, you already have satisfied customers in the same industry. The Sales Development Representative qualifies the potential buyer, that is, the most visible and most interested ones, and forwards them to the Account Manager, an experienced sales specialist for this product.
- Account Manager – this is a sales function that takes over a qualified customer and continues the sales process up to finalization – that is, a successful sale. Regardless of how complex your product is, it’s important that the Account Manager is an expert on this product and knows how to answer any product questions and explain the value of your product for a certain customer. They are not only in charge of the first sale, but also establishing a long-term relationship with the client and further expanding cooperation with them.
Where does Sales Development end, and Account Management begin?
There are several methods to qualify a potential client. Our best practice is that a client becomes qualified when Sales Development determines that the following prerequisites are met:
- The product solves a significant problem for the customer… and the client is aware of this and has verbalized it.
- The client wants this problem solved… and this is high on their list of priorities.
- The product is well suited to the customer’s needs… and is a good balance of their needs and the product features. If the product features overshoot the client needs, it’s possible that there are other solutions the client could use, that are more appropriate in price.
BENEFITS TO INTRODUCING A SALES DEVELOPMENT POSITION
Same as in any other business, it is essential to enable development of your salespeople in the direction that best suits them and which will provide the highest value for the company.
A more measurable sales process.
Perhaps your team includes an exceptional Sales Development Representative or Account Manager, that you don’t notice because their results are difficult to quantify. Also, it will be easier to identify exactly what the issues in the sales process are. Do you attract too few new customers, or are you having trouble closing sales?
A better pipeline.
Customers no longer come (only) at their own pace, but the company also gets better control of new sales. And not less important, especially in selling services, a more predictable pipeline.