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Sales Consulting & Sales Training:

Accepting a Helping Hand

The Importance of Asking for Help

In the field of sales, we’ve all seen sales reps with overblown egos who think they know everything necessary to do their job. They know all about their client, all about their products, all about their terms and contracts and just about anything else. Oftentimes, others know that those people can be a bit difficult to work with and they’re not always the best sales professionals. What other people know is that those people are self-styled “know it alls” who often miss out on opportunities because they fail to ask for help.

Asking for help is important in sales and it can come in different forms. Three main forms that a sales professional is likely to encounter include:

·          Help from colleagues

·          Help from management

·          Help from customers

·          Help from subject matter experts

·          Help from Colleagues - Part of working on a team of sales professionals is the benefit of utilizing the knowledge of others in pursuit of closed opportunities.  Each sales rep you work with has information on situations that can help you with your potential sales. In one office, a sales rep may send an e-mail to his fellow reps to find out if anyone has a good testimonial from a managed healthcare provider. The one rep may not have any contacts but the others might. In another office, an account manager may sit down and talk about a customer situation with another account manager to get an idea of he would handle the customer.  It all boils down to everyone helping each other out. The end result will be of benefit to you and to your employer. When you’re not familiar with the situation or don’t have all the information you need, ask your colleagues.

·          Help from Management - Some people are afraid to walk down this path since they think it will cause their managers to think they are weak. Not so. Managers want to help their sales reps grow in their jobs. One of the most important roles they play is to help sales reps close important deals. Just because they’re managers doesn’t mean they’ve stopped selling. I’ve seen many an astute sales rep bring their manager on a third or fourth sales call to help seal a deal. With some corporations, executives and even CEOs have been known to fly out to lock up large transactions. The message you send to your managers is that you trust them to help with important deals. At the same time, the message you send to your customers is that you find them to be important enough to have involvement from company management.

·          Help from Customers - Many people overlook the fact that one of the best ways to get help is via customer involvement. Imagine the following situation – a customer has asked for a proposal on a service. After some initial calls to gather the appropriate information and to identify the customer’s pain points, you arrange to put together a draft proposal. You then set a time to review the proposal with the customer. As you review the proposal, you make it clear that you need the customer’s help in making sure that what you have provided fits their requirements. You are making a moral appeal for help. As the two of you talk, you confirm that what have sent them is accurate. You also get the opportunity to work together to modify and build the right proposal. Do you see what happens in these situations? The customer has an active hand in coming up with the right solution. This enables customers to feel involved and to receive final proposals that are more likely to be accepted. 

·          Help from Subject Matter Experts - This is a crucial component of the selling process in the software industry.  Most software companies have sales organizations that consist not only of account managers and inside sales but also of pre-sales and post-sales consultants.  These consultants are focused on either providing demos, helping with technical questions and deploying proof-of-concept installations (pre-sales) or rolling out product implementations at customer sites (post-sales).  These resources offer a wealth of knowledge on technical topics since most account managers are not expected to know the minute details of software products.  Likewise, you may have subject matter experts in your company.  Ask for their help on conference calls, sales calls, demos, company roadshows, etc.

One thing to keep in mind – when working with members of your own team, try not to overwhelm them with too many requests.  Hitting up the same sales rep for information with every lead puts an undue burden on them.  Of course, new reps need extra help so there is a time period when a lot of questions are understandable.  Also, be ready to reciprocate.  If you ask for help, you should be prepared to help, too.

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