My team gets tired, I am sure, of hearing me urge them to get out in front of Sales. Sales needs to have something to sell; engineers need sales to sell them. But, there is no process to follow to tell the local sales types what is available. After all, my skill set does not map directly to some nifty SKU in a catalog.
I am reasonably certain that is true for almost all humans. If that is true, and there is no process or guidebook on how to “get in front of sales”, how can you expect the sales team to sell something they don’t know about?
The answer, of course, is found in your personal marketing plan. Let’s pause here while you do some light reading here, here, and here. What do I get out of that reading? That the definition is going to change from group to group. So, here is my take on this. Marketing is educating the consumer about why they need/want you or what you offer. In this case the consumer is the sales team. The sales team needs to know why their customer needs/wants you.
How do I do that?
Here is the rub: The answer to that question is going to change for each person. I can give you general guidance, but my personality (or lack thereof according to the SO) will make what I do work for me, but not necessarily for you. But, let’s give this a swing anyway, ok?
Another thing my team is tired of hearing is goals, objectives, planning, focus, and accomplishing those goals and objectives. So, start there. Make yourself a backwards planning shell and pick a date in the future and set a goal of being able to approach the FSM in your market with the offer of at least one presentation to the local weekly sales huddle. You might need to make sure that this presentation also appears in PPT format so that you can contact your neighboring branch FSM’s also.
What is the content of this presentation?
A better question is: what is the delivery? The content of the presentation is your willingness to help with pre-sales. Delivery of the message/presentation will take many forms and need constant reinforcement. One FSM might not want to have a “presentation” but is totally willing to do email and other options. Your delivery in that case is more electronic and you’ll have to make a point to get face time with the branch staff. And a solid point here is: nothing replaces face time. I don’t care how good your video conference solution is, it is not face time.
You need to have an elevator pitch tailored to the sales team. Delivery of that pitch does require face time. But you need to be doing that anyway. Sales won’t sell what they don’t know. They need to know you.
Your resume needs attention at least once a quarter. Maybe all you do is read it aloud and decide it is still valid. But maybe you might want to update a significant achievement. Maybe you achieved another goal and passed a test or two. Added some more Mic, Key to your signature block. But, at least it is up to date. And have it in PDF format so that you can drop it into email on demand. Perhaps, if you are ultra-inventive, you will create a one-page marketing slick.
Send the resume and/or slick to the FSM, CEM, CSM, et cetera. Make sure the RC gets a copy also.
You will also want to get together with your SDM, CSM, CEM, FSM, and AE types and flat out ask them what they need/want. Make an appointment with the SDM, FSM, CEM, CSM, and be prepared to discuss the following question:
“What can I be doing to help sales be successful?”
Notice that I approached this not as “what do *I* get” but rather what does the sales person get. Appeal to their personal interests and structure. I market myself to the sales teams. I educate them on what I offer to their success.
Remember that you have a story to tell; but you need to keep it out of the techie weeds and relate your skills and accomplishments in business terms. Technical details should stay in the 150-175 level.
On actual pre-sales calls you may need to drive past the 300 stuff, but for this purpose, something less detailed is much better. Your friendly sales executive needs to be able to spin the story to their customers. You need to give the sales team the data needed to create the story, but the data needs to be in an understandable form for the receiver, not the sender.
Time Time Time
But all this takes time. Building a reputation and instilling confidence in both your abilities and the idea of approaching the sales team is not going to happen overnight. It will take a bit. Take the time to create the goal and then figure out how to achieve that goal within the next quarter. Be prepared to adjust your plan based on input from the previously noted acronyms. Then take that plan to your SDM. You need an IDP outline anyway, right? It might as well be something useful!
In the end…
Being a consultant is much more than successful project delivery. A consultant should be helping with the entire sales process. A consultant recognizes the need to market themselves to the sales team and takes appropriate actions to achieve that goal.
Do you want to expand your career but are struggling with getting started? I am here to help.