When dealing in an environment of reoccurring sales cycle’s relationship building has become an important piece of the sales puzzle in today’s ever evolving economic climate. Regardless of the industry, if your customer trusts you and like’s the way you do business then they will buy from you. This has been drilled into every aspiring sale’s professional’s head since the dawn of time. Part of the changing climate though has been an ever-growing list of front line manager responsibilities. These front line managers in most cases tend to be the ones who are the movers and shakers of the business and are the foundation of the client’s business which at the end of the day can affect you and your organizations bottom line.
However, it is important to keep in mind that these front line managers are not the decision makers when you are trying to launch a new product or service. If you are reading this and you are in some area of field sales you probably have many clients like this that play an important role in the business yet there is a little trepidation around getting to the decision maker for fear it could damage the relationship you have worked so hard to build. Whether you’re selling manufacturing products or providing a service getting buy-in from the front line manager is the key.
Here are a few steps you can take to move the needle:
1: Get Pumped: If you have a new product or service that you are expecting someone else to get excited about wouldn’t it make sense if you were just as excited about it? Hopefully you have done your job well and have already shot past the Q&A stage of your business relationship. Bottom line here is that enthusiasm can be contagious and if you are weaving your excitement around a new product through your normal interactions you will generate some interest.
2: Present the product, but don’t try to close the deal: Don’t try and close the deal?!?!?! That’s right; most front line managers like to think their name is on the building when dealing with vendors. Well we all know in most cases that is not true, because once you attempt to close them on whatever it is you are trying to sell rest assured that wall will come up. The reason for this is really all perception; the front line manager may have a little fear in the back of their head of taking any kind of ownership around a product that could potentially be bad for the organization and that could mean the end of his or her job. So don’t try, build value and make sure they know that you are not trying to close them on this that you want them to see the value, take the decision off their shoulders and get their buy in first, turn them into an advocate.
3: Develop a team of advocates: Involve the entire front line team; this may require a few more meetings along the way depending on the size of the organization and each managers availability. The group should have a clear understanding of the product and the results they can expect. It’s also important to align any benefits that make their job easier and put’s more money in their pocket. At the end of the day it’s about getting their buy in first.
4: Never let them close it for you: I have seen too many sales people do all the right things in the beginning of the process and then allow an excited front line manager who is all bought in to the product try to close the deal only to come back and say “sorry the answers NO”, this can be the kiss of death. It is vital for you to be present when the decision maker is brought in to the discussion not only to show the product but handle any possible objections that may come up.
5: Get with the decision maker and close the deal: At this point you have pretty much set the foundation for the close. Your chances of winning the final say are very high at this stage. The decision maker has confidence in the front line team and their ability to run the business effectively. You are more apt to get a “Yes” if the decision maker is confident in the front line team’s ability to effectively utilize the product and move the business forward. All this will allow you to maintain control of the process with relationships intact and a team of managers that value your product and are ready to take immediate action in the implementation.
In closing it’s important to understand that the front line team can play a substantial role in your sales process. If you approach this correctly you will maintain control, keep those relationships intact and have a happy client that will value your products and services.