At first you may think, so what? A sales process is for sales reps, right? Yes, but it is also for all those other contributors to the sales campaign that do not (normally) carry quota. This includes sales managers, sales engineers, subject matter experts, overlays, implementation project managers, customer service reps, technical architects, executive sponsors, and so on. Each has a role they plan at some point(s) in the sales process. Sometimes their impact can be decisive.
Despite this, the ‘average’ sales process focuses almost exclusively on the sales rep, as if the only activities that advanced a sale were those required of the sales rep. This is particularly galling with regard to the Sales Engineer/pre-Sales Consultant position. As Darrin Mourier points out in this blog post, those who fill this role in the sales team end up contributing significantly to Qualifying, Positioning, Proving, Transitioning, and even follow-on Business/Account Development.
If your sales process does not contain guidance for these support staff members, you are failing to properly leverage, manage, and inspect their contributions.
So what should you do about it?
How do support staff help the sales process?
Break out your sales process and look for any or all of the following activities:
- Conduct or prepare for a product demonstration
- Meet with prospect’s IT staff
- Host Executive briefing
- Answer detailed technical questions in an RFP
- Introduce the Implementation Staff to the prospect
- Architect an integrated solution
These are important sales tasks that are almost exclusively conducted by sales support staff, not the sales rep. Does your sales process contain detailed guidance for each sales support staff member on how to perform the task, with whom, and when?
Changing your sales process to provide guidance to support staff members
If not, it’s time to fix this problem by providing guidance to the entire team of support staff that they can follow and managers can coach. Here is a list of the top 10 things to do:
- Indicate which roles are contributing to each step in each phase of the sales process
- Describe what activities each role should perform and in what order
- Map each support staff person to someone in the customer/prospect organization
- Establish a range of hours or time commitment by support staff to a specific sales campaign
- Specify what tools or Sales Job Aids support staff members should use/complete
- Direct all support staff members to the CRM Opportunity records so that they can update themselves on the status of the campaign without asking for personal briefings from the rep
- Require sales reps to script ‘parts’ for the sales support staff to play so that their contribution to the customer interaction is optimized
- Ensure that the sales rep positions to the prospect/customer ahead of time what the purpose of the sales support staff member is in the meeting or in some capacity of the sales campaign
- Provide metrics within the sales process to track the contribution, frequency of contact, and overall impact of the support staff member
- Reward sales staff members for the contribution they make to the sales campaign and for executing their role in the sales process