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The technical end of the sale

Hi, I hope some of you can share some experience here on the best way to evolve the team given the following situation:

Our Inbound sales reps nurture the relationship from a 30day trial commencing through to a close.

We’re early in the development of the team and don’t yet have an account management function, we have a great Support/CS team who manage anything post sale. They also assists with more complex matters pre sale (which has its downsides).

Although our product is not overly complex, it is normal for 4-6 buyer personas to be involved in the process with questions ranging from system settings and configuration to data security and integrations. Approx 60% of the inbound sales reps time is spent here, supporting the trial and helping them get to a decision.

The problem here is our inbound reps feel they do more supporting than selling and have asked how we can increase the sales activity whilst reducing the amount of time they spend supporting during the trial.

My early thoughts are:
1. Train the inbound reps better, to have water tight product knowledge including data security, integrations etc. the risk here is they will still be tempted to include the support team and with a busy schedule would prioritise the more commercial conversations/meetings leaving a poor customer experience.

2. Allocate part of the Support team to assist at this stage of the pipeline and work in partnership with the Inbound sales rep

3. Hire a technical onboarding specialist

I’m open to ideas here or if there’s something i’m missing please chip in.

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    • Profile picture of Patricia DuChene
      @pattyd
      ( 440 POINTS )
      3 months ago

      Hey Wayne – I have been in your shoes and your ideas look good. These are a few things that I used to migrate from a support focused sales org to a sales focused sales org (and I am not saying that sales shouldn’t support prospects, rather they need to support the right prospects):

      1. Identify where your sales team is spending their time supporting – is there documentation, collateral, support articles, short video clips etc… that you can create to alleviate some of this workload and better allow for your prospects to self service in those particular areas or allow for your team to avoid some back and forth? We had found that there were 2 areas taking up the reps time: A) the “first 15min” aka the basic set up and B) security approval. To address A we worked with product to improve our product tour (the forced new trial user experience) and make it more action oriented. We also edited our sales emails to contain more helpful (short form) getting started content. To address B we built a standard security document that addressed ~80% of what most companies needed, we then implemented an internal process that managed the requests from companies who needed more than what was included in the document. This avoided a LOT of back and forth between our reps, the prospect, and our security team.

      2. Clearly define what is “support” and what is “sales” in the pre sales process. Hire a pre sales engineer/specialist etc… (maybe you have a more salesy support/CS team member who would be interested in the role?) and educate the team on what is their role vs the pre sales engineer in the sales process. I also recommend targeting the pre sales role on the cumulative team target so they are encouraged to perform work that gets you closer to a sale.

      Hope this helps – best of luck!

      • Profile picture of Wayne Adams
        @wayne
        ( 560 POINTS )
        3 months ago

        I think your point of docs/vids to support is very important. I have seen examples of the need for internal ‘digital assets’ and I believe this to be a vital section of the ‘sales toolbox’. Thank you for sharing!

    • My business provides a service, rather than a product. Cov19 has put so many companies in a hole, that I’ve had 7 months of providing solutions, more often than generating new work. My work is paid by transaction, not hourly, at least 95% of the time. So, there’s a tension in these times. Yet, the mantra ‘solve don’t sell’ keeps ringing in my head. I think your team has stumbled into this; which will ultimately benefit your company. People who’ve had a salesperson truly solve their problem, truly remember. The growth in your numbers will come; money follows in due course.

      • Profile picture of Wayne Adams
        @wayne
        ( 560 POINTS )
        3 months ago

        Thank you for your perspective, very true to solve not sell. Best of luck in the recovery

    • Profile picture of Senthilkumar Deivasigamany
      @dsenth
      ( 290 POINTS )
      3 months ago

      We have had similar problems since a lot of technical sales includes support. However, one thing we can do is to try and see if some of the support areas are non technical (just documentation or research or similar) and if these can be done by others

    • Profile picture of Ben Eddy
      @eddyb
      ( 280 POINTS )
      3 months ago

      I have seen this problem treated in different ways in different organisations I have worked in. Alas there is no magic bullet. It is often symptomatic of a growing team, so a good problem to have.

      The culture and focus of the company play a key role. Are you focused on customer retention to create happy customers and penetrate into these accounts? Alternatively, are you interested in acquiring new customers?

      For a happy customer, a rep with a high level of product expertise can help accelerate the onboarding of customers and ensure a happy customer. Of course, this is time-consuming and detracts from time prospecting. You will have team members who love the customer engagement up to the full onboarding and others who want to hand over as quickly as possible. This is an opportunity to evolve your team members if possible into different roles.

      It is important to have a team with strong communication skills, and who have an understanding and appreciation of the role each plays in the sales process. There remains the sticky issue of compensation. If you pay the salesperson who hands the baby over very quickly, the on-boarding/customer success manager can feel that they are doing the heavy lifting whilst the salesperson carries away the spoils. This is a common dynamic, and therefore consideration in regards to compensation needs to be made to ensure a happy team.

      In short, there is no magic formula, it depends on the sales and customer service you want to prioritise as well as the team members you recruit. Good luck

      • Profile picture of Wayne Adams
        @wayne
        ( 560 POINTS )
        3 months ago

        Thank you for the reply, some very good points to consider. I’ll work through the solution with our head of CS

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