Sales Development

Whale Hunting Practice #20: Train Your Subject Matter Experts

By December 5, 2009December 29th, 2015No Comments
 In a complex sale to a big customer, the buyers will want to meet your delivery team.  They will not be content to deal only with a salesperson or business development leader.  In fact, learning how to engage key non-sales staff in the sale gives you a huge advantage over other competitors, both large and small.

But this practice cannot happen successfully unless you devote some time to preparing.  The harpooner (salesperson) needs to learn how to orchestrate a team presentation.  No longer doing most of the talking, the sales lead introduces team members and manages all facets of the presentation, on the fly.

Likewise, key subject matter experts [SMEs] need to learn how to participate in a client-facing presentation.  They will need the confidence that comes from  knowing what is expected of them, having rehearsed, and understanding the whole plan.

We recommending preparing SMEs with three sets of material:

1.  Power Points.  Not a slide deck but a few key statements.  Each SME should know the most important points about your company, your product/service, and their role in the delivery.  And the harpooner should be prepared to ensure they have the opportunity to make their key points.

2.  Power Tools.  These are the fear-busters, those tangible pieces of evidence that calm the buyers and make you look capable of doing business with a whale.  Power Tools are documents, white papers, testimonials, charts, graphs, diagrams, pictures, processes–brief but very professional representations of your company’s capabilities in areas that are likely to make the buyers afraid.

3.  Power Questions.   The buyers want to know what YOU need to know in order to serve them well, and they will expect your presentation team to ask intelligent and probing questions.  Be certain that each SME is prepared to ask one or more critical questions of the buying team, questions that will promote a lively discussion.

Teach your SMEs to incorporate power points, tools, and questions into the presentation.  Rehearse so that they understand when to speak and when to listen.  Invite other employees to role play the buyers and offer constructive feedback.

You will find that SMEs write better proposals and bring a new client on board faster and with fewer glitches and that your entire company becomes more excited about sales and business development.  They will have a new respect for the sales process, a better understanding of the customers, and a bigger stake in your growth.

How do you engage SMEs in your sales process?  We’d love your comments, tips and suggestions.