One of the common traits in top athletes is that they are curious…always trying to learn, trying to improve. Whether you are a highly successful veteran sales representative or new to a sales role, there are always opportunities to learn. If you have started a new sales role you may have a longer learning curve and rapidly getting a handle on what your company offers customers becomes critical. Here is an outline of the approach I have taken multiple times in my career.
What information do you need?
Let’s say you are starting sales role for software that analyzes user experiences on websites. In addition to how the software functions, there is a lot more you will want to understand including:
- Value for customers (e.g. increase sales, improved customer retention)
- Why customers buy your solution (what issues does it resolve?)
- Comparison with competitors
- How is your solution installed and/or
- Roles for resources from your organization, customer
- Average length of time
- Typical issues during implementation
- Challenges inside your organization (every organization has some)
- Stories about wins and losses
Regarding understanding challenges in your organization…as a sales representative the better you understand what your company does well and what they struggle with, the more effective you can be in pursuing business. More on shielding customers from internal issues in another post.
Get multiple perspectives
It is important to get input from people in different roles in your company because they interact with your customers in different ways and develop valuable working relationships.
- Sales Representatives
- Solution Architects (technical resource early in the sales process)
- Customer Service
- Technical Support
- Service Delivery/Implementation
Solution Architects and other technical resources are solving problems for customers every day. They develop deep, trust based relationships with customers. Treat them well…you need them on your side in order to be successful.
Gather the information at a digestible pace
This can become a lot of information to absorb particularly if you try to gather it all in one day. When I started at Compaq Services in 1999, I would have lunch once a week with either my mentor, sales manager or the Technology Services Delivery Manager. Each meeting would focus on a small number of topics. Then I had another week to leverage that knowledge during discussions with customers. Take an approach that works for you and be sure to ask a lot of questions!