Making The Internal Sales Call Easy!

I was initially surprised when an international pharmaceutical company asked me to individually coach 4 of their best National Accounts Sales People. It didn't take long to discover why. They had to make the same sale twice - once to their external customer, once to their internal customer.

The Challenge of Making The Internal Sales Call
They made the initial sale to a multiple external customer staff which included a physician, lawyer, financer and operations executive. To make that sale they needed to be creative, flexible, and persuasive. Once the external customer agreed to the sale, the sales person made the second sales call to the internal multiple customer staff that included an in-house physician, lawyer, financer, marketer, and operations executive. This second group expected structure, order, policies, procedures and profit - the antithesis of a creative, flexible, and persuasive sell the first group expected. Needless to say, when excited, happy sales people are confronted by an unhappy internal customer team, their disappointment at having to make the same sale twice gets reflected in their communications.

Communication Habits Reflected In Second Sale
Each of their four best sales people demonstrated in their internal sales calls unacceptable communication habits because of their disappointment with internal criticism and perceived lack of respect.

#1) Impatient, demanding, of internal people
Doesn't ask for big R.O.I.
#3) Provides infrequent feedback
Sells too hard internally
#2) Doesn't provide sufficient internal feedback
Responds defensively
#4) Talks over people, doesn't listen
Goes to bottom line too quickly

Coaching Successful Sales People Is Quick
They already know the skills needed to sell - Get Attention, Sell Benefits, Anticipate Disagreements and Ask for the Business. They just forget to use them when confronted by their own company executives demonstrating lack of interest and perceived disrespect.

I asked them one question, which started us on the road to success.
"Would you ever talk to one of your external customers the way you talk to internal customers?" The light goes on! Their answer is obvious. So is my next statement-
"Make Every Conversation A Sales Call and particularly to the internal customer staff."

3 Coaching Concepts Needed To Make Every "Internal" Conversation A Sales Call

  1. Make Respect of Self/Others The Foundation Of Every Inside Sale
    A sales person's job is to sell. The internal customers' jobs are to make sure the company doesn't get sued, to insure the balance sheet is balanced, to be able to design marketing materials, to increase market share. The foundation for coaching successful sales people is the completion of a substantial communication style Personal Insight Inventory, an in-depth, visual diagnostic tool which uniquely translates the sale's person's strengths and vulnerabilities into colors -

    The strengths of the pharmaceutical sales people were Red (quick results) and Blue (creative ideas/information). The strengths of internal customer staff leaned toward Green (implemented policies/procedures). The challenge of our sales coaching was to help the sales people have the second sales call be successful by learning to speak and listen in a Green language, the language of the internal customer staff.

  2. Practice Expected Disagreements from the Internal Customer Staff
    Sales people routinely practice how to listen to and answer standard disagreements given to them by external customers:
    "Your price is too high" "Doesn't meet our requirements"
    "Need to consult with associates" "We love the competitor"
    What we did in our sales coaching was to determine AND practice responses to the expected disagreements they received from internal customer staff members:
    " These numbers have not been proven"
    " The regulatory commission will disavow this sale"
    " You sold something we have never marketed before"
    " The details make distribution impossible"
    By practicing these internal staff disagreements we reduced the sales peoples' reactions to disappointment and lack of respect. They learned to expect them as the natural reactions of their "own" internal customer staff.

  3. Master The Listening Skills of Responding To "Emotional" Reactions
    Most conversations between sales people and external customers are rational exchanges of needed information on both sides, exchanges of a mutual need and respect. However, many conversations between sales and internal customers become emotional exchanges. The sales people get emotional because they expect the internal customers to live with the completed agreement. The internal customers get emotional because they are asked to agree to a sale they may not believe they can implement. Every emotional conversation takes longer and leaves scars unless the sales person has special listening skills to defuse emotions and refocus conversations.

Coaching Sales Executives To Make The Internal Sales Call Easy
After Sales People make the external sale, they can complete the internal sale by:
- Making Respect of Self/Others The Foundation Of Every Internal Sale
- Practice Expected Disagreements from the Internal Customer Staff
- Master The Listening Skills of Responding To Emotional Reactions

When they have mastered these three fundamentals, making the internal sale IS easy!

By Peter deLisser


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©2002 Peter deLisser. All rights reserved.