Good organizations invest in improving the skills and knowledge of their sales team members; great organizations recognize that “sales” is a multi-faceted process that requires ongoing commitment and effort from every department within the company.
So if, up until this point, your business has targeted its salespeople only with ongoing education and professional development opportunities, consider that all of the following stakeholders all play a critical role in selling your brand and your products as well:
In most cases, your company’s customer service workers represent the first point of contact between potential new clients and your business. As such, it’s vitally important that they understand how to present your company in a favorable light and to answer key questions that may compel a new customer to engage with your company further.
Truly, there’s a big difference between a bored CS worker who answers the phone with a monotone greeting and an engaged pseudo-salesperson who demonstrates to potential customers how your product can meet their needs!
Research & Development
Another department that plays a critical role in your company’s “behind-the-scenes” sales process is Research & Development (R&D). Your R&D team is toiling away every day to create the innovative products your sales team needs to maintain a competitive advantage in your marketplace. However, if there’s a disconnect between sales and R&D, your sales people won’t have access to the information needed to recruit new customers or encourage further business from existing relationships.
It’s imperative that these two teams connect regularly in order to facilitate an effective sales process, so we’ll cover a few strategies for doing so later in this article.
One final key department that’s often left out of sales team updates is your company’s Quality Control (QC) team â€“ though this is a huge mistake! Whether your sales team is dealing with new or existing clients, one of your customers’ biggest concerns will be the reliability and longevity of your product offerings. As such, they want the information that only your QC department can provide. If your sales team doesn’t have up-to-date access to this data, you risk frustrating – or altogether losing – vital relationships with your customers.
Of course, it isn’t just these teams that need to communicate with your salespeople – every team in your company plays a role in your sales process. Your Accounting department can provide salespeople with helpful reference information on your company’s billing procedures or the current status of any customer accounts. Your IT department may provide the support needed to service and maintain any technical products or tracking tools offered to your customers. Even your Human Resources team is responsible for educating salespeople on your company’s policies on appropriate conduct while conducting sales calls on behalf of your organization.
As a result, it’s clear that the process of information-sharing across departments should be a priority for any company that wants its sales team to be fully educated and maximally effective. The following are a few strategies to consider that will enable this type of communication within your company:
These days, much of the sales education process is carried out in regular, in-person meetings amongst members of the sales department. So as you’re holding these meetings, consider inviting members of other departments to weigh in with their own updates.
This strategy offers the advantage that information presented in person is often understood and retained better than the same content shared over email (where it’s frequently ignored or discarded). However, the cost of conducting these training meetings can be high – especially if your company employs remote sales staff who must fly in for every session.
If the cost of in-person meetings exceeds your departmental training budgets, another option to consider is the sharing of important information via email.
However, if you go this route, don’t just send messages containing vital sales training information willy-nilly. To ensure that this information is received and acted on by sales team members, set up a defined system of regular messages that follow a template formula. Put one person in charge of the process and consider putting checks in place to confirm that your organization’s sales members have accessed the information.
Social Business Tools
Another option for facilitating the internal sharing of corporate information to benefit your company’s sales process is the use of up-and-coming social business tools. One of the best options in this expanding marketplace are Enterprise Q&A programs like Quandora, which allow companies to create a central repository of important information that can be accessed by all team members.
According to Andrew McAfee, in research titled, “When Social Meets Business Real Work Gets Done – Enterprise Q&A”:
“Enterprise Q& A programs generate powerful results. 45% of respondents say they that they are either “extremely satisfied” or “moderately satisfied” with their capability. This percentage rises to 60% among organizations that offer rewards for EQ&A participation.”
These solutions are typically much more cost-effective than regular in-person meetings and generally have higher engagement rates than email messages alone â€“ making them a valuable alternative to traditional systems.
But whatever solution you choose, it’s important that you take a proactive stance regarding the facilitation of corporate information across the various departments of your organization. Though it may require additional effort beyond your current sales-only education, the impact on your overall sales processes can be significant.