How you can improve your communications to sales

Putting puzzle together

One of the challenges you may be facing as you introduce services in to your portfolio is getting the right information out to the sales team. Selling intangible services is a very different to selling tangible products.

You need to educate the sales team on how to best present your services and enable them to answer most of the customer’s questions without the need to call in the product specialist.

Alternatively, you may be moving in to complex solution sales and one member of your sales team has created a bespoke customer solution that is a winner. A lot of time and work has gone in to this solution and you know other customers will also be interested in a similar proposition. It is a complex solution that needs to be simply conveyed, so other sales teams can initiate customer conversations and not reinvent the wheel.

Are you missing the sales story of how the services have been put together and why a prospect should be interested. If so, you need a simple vehicle that can clearly communicate your proposition.

The solution is a document I call a Sales Briefing.

More than a sales playbook, a Sales Briefing is an internal document that provides the “front end” of the business with all the essential information about a service or solution. It is particularly suited to complex solution sales that now need to be repeated.

Your objective is to produce a single document that is strictly for internal use only and is be used to train and inform the sales team. The content will also form the basis of the customer facing literature that is produced by marketing for each stage of the sales cycle, such as a two page data sheet, a detailed service description, bid boilerplate text etc. This will ensure consistency of messages to the market place.

Your Sales Briefing needs to be comprehensive and ask all the relevant questions but concise enough that sales will actually read it. A spin off benefit I have found is that it forces you to ask a number questions of your service and can expose any gaps in your offering.

So, what should you include in a Sales Briefing?

In my experience, I have found the following list to be about right:

  • What is the service or solution, its key features and the problems it solves for the customer.
  • Why customers would buy it, its unique benefits and how it is differentiated in the market place.
  • Notes and cautions when selling. i.e. what sales need to know to ensure no over-promising.
  • Who is the target audience.
  • Why should they buy, what is the value proposition, how is the service or solution positioned.
  • Who are the competitors and how does the service or solution stack up against them.
  • How the commercials work, where to find pricing information and billing.
  • What type of service levels can the customer expect and remedies available.
  • How is the service or solution implemented and supported in-life.
  • What sales process should be followed and customer qualification questions.
  • A glossary of terms to ensure clear understanding.

Timescales for delivery are hard to define, as it is dependant on a number of factors including the complexity of the product, service or solution and the amount of existing product documentation is available. Having said that, I would normally expect that you could produce a robust first draft within approximately 4 weeks.