article | November 5, 2014
Sales Leaders – Make the “Internal” Sale
Sales Leaders, here’s a frustrating fact you need to deal with. Some of the obstacles standing in your way have nothing to do with you. They aren’t your fault. Instead, they have everything to do with your peers and your boss.
This is the land of the “internal” sale. Your sales reps joke about their version of this. “I have to sell every deal twice. First to the customer, and then to the company,” they say. But the sales leader’s internal sale is far more difficult.
You must sell your agenda and vision to the other executives. They don’t work for you. You have to successfully influence them to do what you want. You need a tool to help you. That tool is a sales strategy. To start the journey towards developing one (or validating one you’ve developed) click here. You’ll receive SBI’s 2014 Research Report. It will assist you.
Your internal sale is as difficult as your external sale. And if you lose the internal sale, you’re less likely to get what you want. Your power in the organization may decrease. Ultimately, your job may be at risk.
No, you need a strategy. Literally, a written document you can “slide across the table.” Our experience tells us very few sales leaders have done this. Most strategies are vague and undocumented. Or they are just collections of different tactics with no glue holding them together.
Here are a few examples of how a real written strategy will help you:
Imagine you’re in a planning meeting with your Product Management peer. You say “Mr. Product Executive, can you share your strategy for our products with me? What’s the product roadmap look like? What problems are you going after in the marketplace? How is our product different than our competitors? What’s our product pricing strategy?”
Here’s what you may discover: product management doesn’t have a written strategy. (As an executive said to us a few weeks ago, “It’s all in my head.”)
You swing into action. “I understand you don’t have a detailed, written strategy. I recommend you create one. Here is mine. Here’s what I’ve created. Let me walk you through it. I know your strategy isn’t documented right now. But is what you’re planning aligned with my sales strategy? Is there misalignment? If we have misalignment, how do we change that? Can you alter your product roadmap to reflect the way I plan to sell? Do I need to alter how I go to market to reflect your strategy?”
You’ve just created a way to influence product marketing. You did it by having a written sales strategy. Here’s another example:
“Mr. CMO, please share your strategy with me. How are you allocating your budget? What programs and campaigns are you planning to run? I’d like to share my strategy with you. This is what we’re planning to do next year. Do I need to change my sales approach based on your marketing strategy? Under ‘Compensation,’ my strategy calls for spiffs in these months. How can we ensure you are running the right campaigns at the same time?”
Now, the reality in corporate America is that the sales/marketing relationship is fractured. One executive even told me, “I count on zero help from those guys.” He had literally given up on the 30% revenue contribution good marketing teams provide. Can you see how a written sales strategy might bridge the gap? You might create the environment for actual, attributable revenue contribution.
A written strategy is like your team’s “brochure.” Do you have an awesome brochure you can use to sell your vision? If so, others will adjust to accommodate your plans. If not, you are not as prepared as you could be.
Ultimately your end goal is a conversation with your CEO. He WILL have a written strategy. You say, “I’ve built a sales strategy. Here it is. I need you to coach me. Point out the flaws in my strategy. Where am I in conflict with what the company’s trying to do? This way I can bring your strategy to life. We’ll be more effective in front of our customers.” You’ve just enabled yourself to ask for the time and funding you need. Your written strategy is aligned with the CEO’s.
None of these conversations happen if you don’t have a strategy you can slide across the table. You close the internal sale with peers and the CEO with your sales strategy.
Get what you want. Put others in a position to help you. Sell your vision internally. Win the “internal” sale.