The Internal Sale: Educating Your Company on Your Customer

Sometimes you find yourself with two distinct customers. You have the customer on the outside, the person you're trying to approach about helping so that you can grow your business, and then you’ve got the customer inside your company, on your own internal team. You often need some help from them too.

It's a common assumption that your company knows exactly what it needs to do in order to deliver results and outcomes for the customers you serve. More often than not, that's just not the case. There is often a disconnect there, and you as the salesperson are often the only bridge. Yes, sometimes you need to sell within your own company, and these are actually my favorite kinds of sales to make.

You are in the unique position of being the interface between the two entities. You know what you offer your customer, and sometimes it needs to be tweaked. Specs need to be adjusted, a different service package needs to be put together... You bring those proposed modifications back to your marketing or engineering department, who steadfastly insists that they created that solution perfectly the first time, and it's on you to sell it.

It startles me how much pushback you often get from your own company about trying to grow the business. You've done the yeoman's work of capturing someone's attention, making a strong value proposition, and gotten them to commit if certain modifications can be made. In many cases, you aren't even required to offer price concessions. You return back to your company feeling like a war hero, only to be told, "We can't do that." Now you have to make the same sale again to your own company? Which team are these guys playing for?

I think I love this sale so much because your passions are clearly aligned with the people inside your own organization. Guards are typically lowered in these conversations because everybody has the same logo on their shirt. You're not talking about money unless you are using the profit from the potential sale as a lever, which is a fun spin on the price discussion.

I always appreciated the long-term benefits of these conversations. Anytime I can bring a deeper understanding of my customer inside my organization, it helps me to do my job better. Marketing teams know more about messaging. Engineers know more about design needs. These internal conversations developed my relationships with my team members in-house, and make no mistake, they increased my influence there as well.

One of the best ways to bridge that gap is to get your internal, non-customer-facing teammates to spend some time facing customers with you. Give them an idea of what one of your typical days looks like, and show them what you're really up against. Get them in the car with you for a 13 hour day on the road. Give them a listen to some of your call recordings. Outline for them what your customer’s own constraints and challenges are. People all have their biases, especially when it comes to other people in the organization and what their roles entail. In reality, there's no feasible way for you to know all of the details of everybody else's position. With that said, it's not only in your best interest to shed light for other people on what you really do on a daily basis, but for you to take interest in what your other team members’ days are like too. Conversations like this have enabled me to make more friends and a lot more sales.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash