This article is about to describe the specifics of (re)building a b2b sales department of high added value services/products.
If you want to create or re-create a b2b sales department here are the four essential things to decide:
Yes, it seems unimportant but it all starts with the right naming. If you call something Sales Department then it will act like a department that’s role is to sell. If you call something Client Success Department then it will aim to achieve the success of your clients. So the suggestion would be to aim high and try to make your clients successful.
But wait, isn’t that the right name for the Account Management Department? How could we make someone successful before they are our clients? Salespeople should engage with people who are not our clients just yet, right?
Well not really, what your sales people should do as the very first step is to make sure that your services/products are the best for their prospects. And many times the best contribution to somebody’s success is realising and advising that our services or products are NOT the right solution for them. Now if the salesperson’s goal is to sell, then he would not care, and would proceed with closing the deal. But if your salesperson identifies with the success of somebody he would honestly inform the prospect that to his best knowledge our service or product is not for them. This is why you should call your sales department: Client Success Department. Because then you would end up with clients that are at the right shop for their needs. And you won’t have to do damage control with unfitting clients. (we can also call this: post lead qualification or prospect qualification)
You will need to create a structure that is scalable and integrated into your Marketing, and Account Management. Because in the 21st century there is no feasible way to have these three departments separated. The new B2B marketing is called Content Marketing and the only place where relevant content could come from is the day-to-day relationship with your real clients. So your content marketing should only come from the account management experience. Your sales people should be able to speak the same language and bear the same knowledge about customers and their real issues as your account managers.
So at the end of the day you have to take your sales, your marketing and your account management and blend them into one big Client Success Department.
Of course it is not enough to put all three (sales, marketing and service) together without defining specific roles within. You must decide what type of sales force behaviour you need to make you clients satisfied. Based on your client feedback and your service/product nature you must define if you need ‘virgin-type’ or ‘hooker-type’ sales people to offer to your clients. Let’s see the differences! 🙂
‘Virgins’ are the ones who don’t know how to promote themselves (the service or the product) but they are clean and young and untouched by either profitability or lying or taking advantage of clients. They are typical experts of a professional area, (so for instance if you sell webpages picture a developer or a designer). Certain clients love to talk directly to our virgins to try to take advantage of their lack of business skills. These are usually clients who buy such services or products often and the like being left alone with the expert without the ‘guard of resources’.
‘Hookers’ on the other hand are shrewd professionals who can provide services and deliver product exactly the way the client needs. Even against clients’ initial interests or wills because they know better. With them clients feel they are in good hands and they are served professionally. These clients are usually the first timers who have no experience in the service or product and it gives them security to be told what to do and what to let be done.
Both roles are equally important and many times they must coexist at the same department. Your client profiles and different service and product types should tell you which one to use.
The sales acceleration industry has gone through the roof in the past few years. (According to Forbes magazine by 2017 sales acceleration industry is about to be over $30 billion.) And there is a good reason why: by average companies with CRMs have 17% higher revenues than their competitors without. Take your time and study all available sales tools because there is no success without them. You will need a good mix of SaaS and PaaS to create a successful b2b sales machine like CRM, premium social subscriptions, blog engines (CMS tools), etc.
And of course if you don’t want to waste a lot of money experimenting start with Sales Consulting.