In Ellen’s last blog (here if you missed it) she discussed the value of getting all employees involved in the Web to Print solution and as a follow up I decided to look at some of the issues facing the sales team. Sales people are trained to identify the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me?) hook for a prospect in order to win a deal. So, what’s in it for the sales people who might be asked to promote on-line self service print buying? The classic response we hear on many occasions from print sales people is “my customers wouldn’t want it” or “I’ve never been asked for it”. Does this sound familiar?
The “FUD” Factor – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
Sales people often have a self perception that they are lacking in computer literacy. This can be for a variety of reasons such as never really needing to move beyond the use of emails as part of the sales process or fear that actually wanting to have any understanding of internet technology would somehow make them “nerdy” and therefore not “salesy”. This often creates the fear factor when trying to position a Web to Print solution to a customer (new or existing). “What am I selling? What if the customer asks me a question I can’t answer?" (We all know how much sales people hate saying “I don’t know”!)
This is the first misconception because it’s not about technology and a high level of computer literacy should not be required, particularly from the customer's perspective. Certainly an understanding of what the system can do is indeed a valuable asset but knowing how the software works is not at all necessary. Also, in Kevin’s business development presentations he talks about the benefits of team selling and not being afraid to take someone to a sales pitch who does know the system inside and out, it is certainly something I do when the customer is very tech aware.
Another fear for sales people is that they often feel that software is being brought in to replace them; it is eroding into their current job description. This is often hidden behind statements such as “We will lose our relationship with our customers”. On the contrary we have seen that the relationship with the customer is actually strengthened and the type of conversation changes from “How much?” to “Can you do this?”
Often it is down to how senior management position the new Web to Print solution to their sales people. Let’s take a couple of reasons that might enter a M.D.’s mind:
We’re getting a Web to Print system so we don’t need to see or talk to our customers anymore, we may even be able to save on the salary bill too!
We’re getting a Web to Print system which gives us a really exciting new tool to go and talk to our customers about, it will give our sales people the edge over any other sales guys and ensure we retain our customer’s business longer term.
Now hopefully the M.D. never says the first one out loud, but I think everyone can see that the second reason is going to create a much more positive introduction of the new system into the company.
Sales people need to understand that it is one more tool in their sales kit and will increase customer loyalty as it can be positioned to illustrate that you are easy to deal with and you offer a 24/7 service. It will also give them up-sell opportunities, a site that starts out as just business cards and letterheads will often experience a “viral spread” into other departments or divisions in a customer. Possibly the biggest advantage is that it will allow them to differentiate themselves from their competition whereas previously winning the business had been all about price.
The sales role is not disappearing, it is just changing, but only in positive ways that are good for your company, good for your customers and good for your sales people.