There’s an easy hack to become a better sales rep, maybe as good as the founder of your B2E. You can accomplish this exercise in about a day, and many companies can even provide a way for a remote rep to do this training from home. It’s cheap, painless and guaranteed to improve your close rate. Any guesses?
I have a theory that founders are always the company’s best sales people. They carry themselves differently than a rep. They have more confidence and more passion, drawing customers in like a Pied Piper rather than applying “close pressure.” But founders aren’t universally sales gurus–it can’t possibly be a technique they use to pull off their customer magnetism. I believe there’s another important ingredient that makes them incredibly good at selling their wares. Extremely deep and authentic product knowledge. Founders know their product like the back of their hands, how and why to use it, what other B2E products seem similar but aren’t and why, and what pedagogical transformation occurs when you use their tool. B2E customers don’t want to talk about the sizzle – they actually like talking about the steak. So a rep that can serve up a healthy portion of product chops is going to have a founder-like success rate. If you or your reps are not as strong on product as you’d like, here’s the trick I promised to shore up that knowledge base.
Take support calls for a day. It will have an immediate impact on your understanding of how real customers use, and in some cases misuse, your product. You’ll hear their compliments about what they love, their confusion about what they don’t quite get, other products they’ve tried and what they liked/didn’t like, complaints about what they want changed in your product, and a bunch of real world use cases. In other words, the knowledge to make you as savvy as your founder.
Another great activity for acquiring product knowledge is delivering a training class. I know that’s a chicken and the egg conundrum—you can’t deliver a training class until you know the product well enough—however you can start by delivering parts of the training class and assist a trainer until you are ready for a solo engagement.
Sales VP’s might be cringing out there that these service activities are “wasted hours” when a rep could be making phone calls. I know, I know, you want your resources producing. Remember that Abraham Lincoln said if he had 8 hours to chop down a tree he’d spend 7 sharpening his axe. A well-sharpened rep is more productive and happier, translating into the added benefit of longer retention. I will also point out that many B2C giants, such as Little Caesar’s Pizza from right here in Detroit, require their new corporate employees to log some time working on the front lines. A day in the pizza shop helps the employee commune with the purpose and mission behind their HQ role.
Take a chance putting your reps in the line of fire and you’ll find you recoup your time investment almost immediately.