Seldom am I able to write a blog post which covers all areas of sales and is essentially a blanket statement. Today is one of those days: sales success requires cooperation with and from other departments within your company. In order to be the best you can be and provide your customers with the best possible service you must work and communicate with others—others who will touch the customer and perhaps deliver on the promises you make.
Being successful in sales means successfully navigating the treacherous waters of office politics, petty jealousies and any number of other issues facing you and your department on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Know How Things Work: It’s important you understand the workflow process. When you place an order or bring on a new customer, who does what? How many people get involved with your sale? How many things have to go right (and could potentially go wrong) during one sales cycle? You must know this. You have to understand how your actions affect others within your own organization. Others will probably have to fulfill your promises—make sure you know what it takes for them to do so.
Ask Questions: Find out how other departments work. The more you know about their jobs the more sensitive you become when something does go wrong—and it will. I’ve found few people who actually want to mess up a sale for you; most people want to do a good job. So, the more you know about them and how they work the better you can be at satisfying your customer and not over-promising what can be done.
Walk A Mile In Their Shoes: Sales success is a team effort and if you want to truly understand the team, how about spending a day in each department—watching the process of filling your order or completing your sale? As the TV commercial says, “The more you know…”
Communicate: Find out what everyone needs in order to satisfy your customer’s needs and requests. Does accounting need a certain form filled out 7-days in advance? Does production need a certain ramp up time to bring on a new customer? What does purchasing need to know about a customer’s buying patterns in order to properly stock merchandise? Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more information you provide them the easier transition and transactions your customer will have.
Sales is the only department in the company contributing to revenue (but nobody wants you to tell them that), however there is no way for sales to operate on an island and ignore the needs of others. Be sensitive to what a new customer, a new order or a special circumstance means to them. It’s not just your commission check that is affected.