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Are You Selling Within Your Own Company?

by David Brock on January 14th, 2010

Anthony Iannarino’s post on Selling Inside reminded me of some great advice a mentor gave early in my sales career at IBM.  He said, “Sometimes you have to sell stronger within your own company than you do with the customer.”

It took me a while to understand that, but it’s been important throughout my career.  As sales people, we are driven to connect with our customers and to get them to buy our products.  There are few areas that I know of where we can do this as lone gunslingers.  Most every sales professional I know relies on strong support from people within their own companies.  We often need people to help us put together complex solutions, presenting them and our capabilities to the customer.  We need strong customer service, support and order management.  There are many people a sales person must rely on to get things done for customers and to close business.

Additionally, a major role for sales people is to serve as an advocate for customers within the organization.  Sales must make certain their customers’ voices are heard—not only for product development, but for service, and overall company strategy.

Executive management must get the whole organization aligned around customers, but sales professionals can provide tremendous leadership in accelerating this focus.  Sales people can bring the reality of the customer world into organizations that tend to be consumed with internal focus.

How much time do you spend selling within the company?  What are you doing to build relationships and support within your own company?  What are you doing for your customers to make sure their interests are hears? 

We don’t talk about this very much, but effectively selling within your own company is critical to your own effectiveness — and to your company’s success.

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6 Comments
  1. David

    Great point about selling internally. Knowing our organizations, navigating and interacting with them is as important a part of sales as knowing our customers.

    A consulting firm I worked for used to have a great tradition: Every Friday in an informal session; a group of consultants would prepare and deliver a preso before anyone in the company who wished to attend. They would speak for thirty minutes about a recent engagement after which they would field questions.

    It was a great way to help internal people understand the customer’s needs and the services being rendered by our company. Also, there were many good ideas that came from internal people that the consultants could leverage next time.

    Good Selling!

    Don F Perkins

    • Don, thanks for the comment. That’s a great idea! I’ve found many of the internal people are hungry to know what customers think and do. This kind of presentation or inviting customers in to meet are great ways of engaging everyone in focusing on the customer.

      As always, thanks for your thoughtful contributions! Regards, Dave

  2. Hey David, among some of the shared experiences I gleaned from my sales and marketing work with Nabisco Foods and MCI (back in the day…) was a culture that treated the sales, marketing, market research, product development, and brand management organizations as “internal marketplaces.” The idea was to create an employee mind-set for interacting and sharing and learning from and viewing one another as “internal customers.” This was really stressed on the sales guys as a day in, day out reinforcement of the habits and support needed for selling to our customers on the outside.

    PS Nice talking with you on Keenan’s Sales Smack!

    • Juan, thanks for the note! There are companies that create a customer mind set in all their functions. You mentioned a couple of good examples (except for those MCI guys that kept calling me at 6:00pm asking me to switch my carrier—but that’s a different story.). Getting everyone in an organization to understand how they serve the customer, not only internal customers, but the real ones, is critical to becoming customer focused and responsive.

      Having said that, I believe many sales professionals, in the every day rush of trying to do business with customers, forget to build strong internal ties and relationships. Selling internally, to get the support they need, and serving as a customer advocate. Sales people must make the time to do this, to perform at the highest levels.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Please keep visiting, your ideas are great!

      Enjoyed talking with you on SalesSmack! I’m leading the next one, talking about innovation in sales (sounds like an oxymoron). Look forward to your active engagement! Regards, Dave

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