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10 Tips to Build Rapport Internally to Navigate Complex Deals

Internal Relationships in an Organization
ChoiceLucidchartPartnerSales Process

Sales is all about relationships—we know that. However, the focus tends to be on external relationships with customers. After all, that’s where the deals come from. But what can easily get overlooked are the many internal relationships in an organization.

Today’s sale is difficult and complex—and it’s near impossible if you try to go it alone. Sales leadership, sales engineers, customer success, and marketing all play crucial roles in getting a deal to closed-won.

You need information and resources from them, and they need the same from you in order to stay aligned. Yet, how often do you and your fellow sales colleagues act as separate entities? 

Let’s break down each relationship within your sales org. Below are practical tips for eliminating friction from the inside so that your deals close faster.

1) Show your SE who is who before you get on a call
2) Share your discovery call notes
3) Be wary about overpromising on your solution
4) Closely review your deal pipeline + account maps on 1:1s
5) Be strategic about when you invite leadership to join your calls
6) Keep your pipeline healthy
7) Nail the handoff process to customer success
8) Stay up to date on the status of the account
9) Identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling
10) Give marketing a clear path to the decision makers

Tips To Improve Your Relationship With Sales Engineers

If there’s one pain point that hits sales engineers the hardest, it’s the lack of time. They tend to be spread thin, and that pain point is only made worse when there’s a disconnect between you and the sales engineer.

When you invite sales engineers to a call or ask them to demo a product, they often lack essential context about your account. You can improve your relationship with sales engineers by providing them with details about your contact’s pain points.

To start, you can:

1) Show your SE who is who before you get on a call

Give your SEs a clear picture of your target account’s political landscape before you pull SEs into a call. This information will enable the SEs to tailor their messaging to specific decision-makers based on the prospect’s role in the organization and to the prospect’s concerns.

This way, your SE won’t dive into deep, technical aspects of a product when speaking to a high-level decision-maker.

2) Share your discovery call notes

Wouldn’t it be nice if every deck your sales engineers brought to a call was already customized?

The more information you can provide SEs about your discovery work, the easier it will be for them to find the right solutions for your specific prospect. It’s especially helpful to share notes on what tools your prospects are currently using. Explaining what the prospect’s short-term and long-term business objectives is helpful too.

Talk to your SE about creating a discovery information template with standard questions that you can use to make sure you’re aligned on all of the key points in a deal. Pulling SEs into a call before you’ve done the groundwork, is a recipe for a rocky call and a frustrated SE.

3) Be wary about overpromising on your solution

SEs can become frustrated when they walk into a call and realize that the prospect expects them to deliver on a solution that your company can’t actually provide. Learn what is safe to promise, and don’t be afraid to tell a prospect that you need to confirm with your team before you promise solutions that are outside of normal requests.

“Being a solutions engineer, I’m brought in on deals once they become technical or require custom solutions. For this reason, I often miss the initial discovery calls.

Using the account maps that our sales reps create in Lucidchart, I am able to quickly catch up.

I learn who the technical blockers and champions are, and I can add comments as needed when I need to ask the sales rep questions.” ~ Kristy Palombo, Solutions Engineer at Lucidchart

Tips To Win Over Your Leadership

With so many demands on a sales leader’s time, it can be difficult to get the executive attention and mentoring you need to tip the scale in your favor as you’re closing deals.

To impress the higher-ups, you need to establish clear communication and show them exactly how and when they should get involved.

4) Closely review your deal pipeline + account maps on 1:1s

When you can show your executive exactly whom you are talking to, you won’t have to spend 15 minutes reminding them where you’re at when it comes to moving the deal down the pipe. Before the deal review, ask yourself which key contacts may still be missing.

Is the CMO looped into the discussion? What about the neighboring department head? Come prepared with a plan on how you’re going to fill those gaps.

5) Be strategic about when you invite leadership to join your calls

Having top executives at your deal reviews can go a long way in showing your prospect that they’re a priority to you and to your company.

However, if you bring leadership in too early, they may start to feel like they’re doing all of your closing work for you.

Instead of waiting for your leaders to figure out when and where they should help out, decide on a few key accounts that are close to making final decisions to invite your leadership to. Prepare specific reasons on why those accounts deserve extra attention.

6) Keep your pipeline healthy

Having lots of opportunities in the pipeline might make you look good initially. But, the customers in your pipeline actually have to close to build your credibility with leadership long term. Erring on the side of under-promising and over-delivering will go a long way toward building trust with your leadership.

“We now have executive deal reviews in which our largest accounts are reviewed by our CEO and other senior executives. With visuals like account maps, we can quickly and clearly inform leadership on the progression of a deal and help them understand how a rep is working the deal.

Once leadership understands the status, they can help connect reps with the key individuals who can help the deal close faster.” ~ Peter Chun, VP of Sales at Lucidchart

Keys To Working With Customer Success To Create Loyal Customers

The relationship between sales and customer success is crucial but can be difficult to manage, especially when it comes to knowledge transfer between the two teams.

As you work an account, you develop a deep understanding of the customer, which is crucial for closing the deal. However, that information is just as important for customer retention and expansion.

Your customer success team needs this deep knowledge of an account in order to effectively support the customer in achieving their business objectives.

7) Nail the handoff process to customer success

Set up a time to review the account before you hand it off. Then, customer success will have an understanding of the critical players involved, the roles they play, and the positive and negative relationships that influence the deal.

If you and the customer service manager can collaborate to devise a plan of action to engage with the customer, the customer’s experience is better, leading to bigger deal potential.

8) Stay up to date on the status of the account

As customer success interacts with the account, they can keep the account map updated with new relationships and new customer needs.

Account maps keep you in the loop as the account expands, which is especially helpful when renewals roll around. Then you both have a single source of updated documentation to turn to when working this specific account down the road.

9) Identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling

With a streamlined transition from sales to customer success, you create a positive experience for the customer and develop a lasting relationship with them. When you approach new departments, you’ll have the advantage of positive feedback from internal supporters that can provide you with essential deal momentum.

“One of my customer success managers was discussing POC plans for a major new account with the account’s sales rep. In order to bring the customer success manager up to speed, the sales rep pulled up the account map he had built.

The knowledge transfer was seamless and accomplished in a single meeting with a single visual. My customer success manager didn’t have to spend hours digging through Salesforce, and the rep was able to quickly get back to working his other deals.” ~ Cory Cozzens, Director of Customer Success at Lucidchart

Adding Marketing Fuel To Your Fire

Because marketing and sales often operate under different playbooks, you’ve probably never been in perfect sync with marketing.

A key contributing factor in the continual misalignment of sales and marketing tends to be a huge gap in information flow between the orgs.

The information that marketing has on leads isn’t always passed to sales and vice versa.

10) Give marketing a clear path to the decision makers

Bring key contacts from marketing such as product marketing managers and lead generation managers into deal reviews. With an account map in hand, the marketing team will have an easy reference that provides specific details for a deal.

With these details in hand, marketing teams can plan targeted campaigns to specific stakeholders and orgs at the accounts that matter most to you, to increase deal momentum.

“Account maps, especially during the planning stages of account-based marketing initiatives, have been invaluable. What was once 30 minutes of furious note taking (for each account!) is now a quick glance at a visualization of the account landscape.

By sending more meaningful messaging at the right time, we can provide better fuel for the sales conversation.” ~ Tyler Bench, Director of Demand Gen at Lucidchart

Building Internal Relationships in an Organization: Do’s and Don’ts

To summarize, here’s what you need to do (and what you should avoid doing) to facilitate better communication internally:

Do:

  • Use visuals to simplify the target account’s political landscape.
  • Create a template for discovery information with your SE.
  • Bring account maps to your deal reviews/1:1s.
  • Share account information with customer success managers before handing off the account.
  • Maintain account information in case opportunities for upselling or cross-selling arise.
  • Involve marketing in deal reviews.

Don’t:

  • Overpromise on your solution.
  • Invite SEs to a call before you’ve done in-depth discovery.
  • Involve leadership in too many deals.
  • Promise a deal too early.

Don’t go at it alone! When you improve the relationships between your co-workers, you can remove the internal barriers that can block your biggest deals. Work in sync to close bigger and faster.


Also published on Medium.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

Dan Cook

Dan joined Lucid with a background in technology investing. Prior to coming on board, he sourced and evaluated investments in SaaS businesses for Polaris Venture Partners. Dan holds a B.S. in both Accounting and Economics from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is an avid Boston sports fan and loves baked goods.