How much internal selling are you doing?
Many years ago, I was introduced to a concept that changed the way I do business. This concept was quite obvious but had been something that I was not cognitively practicing daily. Once I embraced this concept, I not only increased my productivity and realized more success, but I also created a friendlier, peaceful, and more enjoyable environment in which to work. The concept is internal selling.
I define “internal selling” as selling your cause or desire to anyone within your organization who can help you achieve it. This includes anyone on your team who can help your goal or project, such as the marketing group, leadership, implementation or service staff, administrative or clerical processing, or even other sales people. Internal selling is essentially rallying the troops to get everyone on the same page with the same goal in mind. It is the concept of each person doing all that they can to help you achieve your goals. Once again, this can happen in a professional or personal environment, but let me start with an example of how this worked for me in a corporate setting.
When I started with Micros Systems, Inc. in 2006, I was surprised at how personal and intimate each sale’s transaction was to my team. This was new to me, as in my time with my previous company (AT&T), I went and sold products and services, and then handed over the sales orders to another department which would then finish off the process from there. I would not have to submit sales order paperwork for fulfillment. I would not have to contact engineering or customer service or a post sales team. I basically sold the products and then moved on to the next opportunity. This was the intentionally designed sales process in a company with 40,000 employees.
At Micros, I worked in an environment where there were 100 people in one district office who supported a local territory. This office included sales, management, customer service, implementation, administration, and an enhanced help desk and support team. This meant that anything that I sold, and anything that I promised or implied in a pre-sales environment was delivered by our local team. Furthermore, once I sold a deal, people in the same building would help me process the order, make sure that the paperwork was as it should be, order equipment, program software, install the solution, and then introduce a support relationship for the years to come. This also meant that if anything went wrong with any part of the pre- or post-sales process, it would affect everybody in the office. As you can imagine, this put added pressure on to the sales team to make sure that every sale was as “clean” as possible. If you had a messy sale or sold something stinky, then everyone would smell it!
Now that I understood the environment of the team, it was time to schedule one-on-one meetings with each of the department heads so that I could gain further clarity on the specifics of the process as well as identify roles and responsibilities of our team. I saw this as an incredible opportunity to learn about the current process and begin to form relationships with each of my team members. It was during these initial meetings that I would pave the path for future success by listening acutely and taking extensive notes. I made sure to start each meeting with an introduction that included some background on myself and how I ended up at Micros––but most importantly, after the pleasantries, I began the heart of the meeting with one important question… “What can I do, as a salesperson, to make your job easier, more effective, and more fun?”
As you can imagine, most people were caught off guard when I posed this question, as they did not typically get asked this by new team members! Immediately, their guards were down and the energy of the conversation shifted. As they would share with me, I took notes… on everything. What they said, detailed instructions, challenges that they faced daily, how those challenges came to exist, roadblocks, bottlenecks in processes, and all other pertinent information was recorded. I was an active listener as they described to me mistakes that others in my position had made. It was obvious that they were in the best position to help me have success as they had with those previously in my role. I recognized that they were instrumental in my future achievements and wanted to capitalize on their wealth of information. Most importantly, I realized that I had the ability to add to their success by being successful at what I did.
Additionally, I recorded personal information on each of them which I could use down the road. I would ask things like when was their birthday? Did they have children, and if so what were their ages? What sports team did they like? Did they have a favorite type of wine? Did they always stop for coffee in the morning? Did they go to the movies? Did they eat a certain type of candy? I took notice of some of their habits. I recorded this information in my phone contact list so that I could look them up and be reminded of it at any time.
As I worked with them over the years to come, I rewarded them at different times with little surprises which I knew they would enjoy and would be a thoughtful way to say “thank you” for helping me with a particular task or project. It was sometimes as simple as a Starbucks gift card or a chocolate bar. Often it could be a birthday card or a thank you card after a project was completed. I would use this practice regularly as I knew that these simple gestures would convey my appreciation for a job well done––which at the end of the day would only add to the overall success of the sale.
I have known many successful executives and team leaders who simply “check-in” with their team on a regular basis. They may start their day with a walk around the office to say, “good morning” or “hello.” This simple act of engagement offers a personal connection between co-workers. This can also happen via phone or email, although there is nothing better than a face-to-face interaction. Remember, your co-workers are people first, and employees second. Engage them personally and you will have a stronger relationship that will only help in a professional environment.
Internal selling can happen in your personal life as well. Simple acts of consideration can create an environment that is more pleasurable for you. For a moment, think about the last few days or weeks and recall any personal interactions that you may have had with your friends, family, or acquaintances. Were there any actions that you took to motivate someone else to do something for you? Was there something you did to enhance the possibility of getting a “yes” or confirmation that you were hoping for?
I would propose that all of us have these moments where we participate in activity like this. This does not make us disingenuous. This is not merely an act of “buttering up” someone to get what we want, but rather maintaining an environment where constructive communication and openness to your idea can live.
Once again, internal selling as well as external selling need to exist together in an atmosphere where all parties associated receive value.
*Excerpt from Capture Your Power in Sales and Business ©2018