Have those on the execution side of the business ever had a sales rep sell something to a client and then throw it over the wall with little to no explanation of what was actually sold? With no idea what of the client's expectation is?
Being someone that started off on the execution side of the business and is now on the sales side, I have three easy tips for sale reps to help get a program up and running without a hitch. While this is directed toward sales team members, execution folks will also benefit from this.
Before diving into these three steps, all sales reps must 100-percent understand what it takes to create and deliver on any custom or integrated program. While this seems like a no brainer, I have seen, on multiple occasions, a sales rep sell something without fully understanding it or explaining it to a client. This sets everyone up to fail (both the client and internal teams).
Now for the three tips for success post sale:
- Sales reps own the client relationship and strategic decisions related to the solution(s).
- Internal teams (and 3rd party resources) must be aligned to support the development of the program, managing internal expectations for its timeframe and the level of detail.
- Be proactive with internal teams and with the progress of the program.
First, the sales rep owns the client relationship. Period. While some execution teams are absolutely fantastic and I would trust them with my children (if I had any), at the end of the day, the sales rep is the one who built the initial relationship and started the conversation for this program. The execution team maintains the relationship. For any new or strategic decision making, the rep and execution team should work hand in hand. Own it, sales rep…own it!
Second, align the internal execution teams — which can include: program manager, content team, marketing team, etc. — by scheduling a kickoff call internally (minus the client). During this call, it is important to review the client's expectations so the team knows how to manage them.
Below are what I like to call the five "W's" to be reviewed:
- Who (audience) — Who is the target?
- What (topic) — What is the industry topic, educational goal, etc.?
- Why (goals or KPIs) — What is the ultimate client need the solution will solve?
- When (hard stops concerning final delivery) — When does the program need to launch and/or conclude?
- Where (promotion vehicles and channels) — Where will the program be executed (email, website, social, third-party channels)?
Third, be proactive. This is the area in which client expectations meet reality. Adjustments may be needed depending on results of research, conversations with the content team, lead generation results, etc. It is important in this stage to not annoy your execution teams, but rather trust them. This isn't their first rodeo (most likely) so if they have a suggestion, listen to them.
As for the client side of things, always schedule mid-reviews, check-ins. Just because the internal team says things are going well doesn't necessarily mean the client is seeing things the same way. It is always beneficial to gauge the client's overall feeling about any program.
If there is one big take away from this article it should be this: Communication is key to success. Communicate with your team and with the client and I promise you things will turn out for the better.
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." – George Bernard Shaw