ASK JOHN

Hi John,

I’m reading your Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer book and want to ask how as an inside Sales Engineer I can improve my client relationships. As background, I work with a dozen different salespeople, have at least six sales calls a day, and rarely speak with the same client more than twice. It is a tough environment with little time I can devote to what sales feels are non-essential tasks..

Thank You

Rajiv : Bangalore, India


 

Hi Rajiv ,

Thanks for your question, and you are correct – that is a tough environment and not exactly conducive to rest and relaxation.

However, the good news is that you can start to make some small changes which will ultimately lead to better and more trustful relationships with both your clients and your salesreps. Here are a dozen ideas for you:

  1. Start with consistency of messaging. Have a photo of yourself, plus a little personal and professional info on your introduction slide. Write a 2-3 sentence introduction which all 12 salespeople can use when they introduce you on a call. It’s their chance to make you look good. Remember you are a person not a resource.
  2. Ensure that you communicate directly with your clients and prospects, and don’t route all communications through the rep as an intermediary. That’s a trust issue.
  3. Schedule some solo calls for purely technical follow-up. You’d be surprised what an SE can learn when there is no sales person around. (and every good sales person knows this)

  4. Treat every interaction as if you are going to physically meet that person next week. That helps with a positive attitude.
  5. Visit some local clients. “Adopt” them.
  6. If a client uses your product in an interesting way, ask if you can learn more about their operations. You can trade knowledge, beta program access, “health checks” etc. for this.

  7. Volunteer for external marketing events, user group meetings and trade shows.
  8. Always look for a common bond with a client. That’s one reason to share a bit of personal and professional info up front. Sometimes you have to give before you get.
  9. Enable some partners. Especially if yours is a partner-driven organization and those partners drive a lot of business.

  10. Proactively supply your clients with useful information and updates. You’ll need to co-ordinate that with your sales partner.
  11. Develop a Twitter / LinkedIn/ Blog presence. Ask permission and discover corporate policies first!
  12. Focus on the relationship with the account execs too. Building trust with them (use “partner” a lot) makes your life easier and less stressful.

 

Working inside sales or small-medium-business (SMB) can make permanent relationships harder to build, but not impossible. It also pays dividends years later, when those contacts have moved onto other more senior positions in larger organizations. So there is a short term and a long term benefit. Trust me on that!

 

/John.

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