The Partnership Promise

Too often, sales reps are perceived as being greedy people guilty of overselling, overpromising, and underdelivering.  These sales reps are commonly referred to as “vendors” as if it were an ugly term. The reality is that the sales rep is just following orders and doing the job.  For a sales rep to be truly empowered to act as a “Partner,” several other decisions must be made by the business.  The Partnership Promise is a commitment from the business to truly serve the customer from a holistic perspective.

The Partnership Promise can be boiled down to nine principles that overlap between the product, sales, enablement, account management and marketing teams. The common themes in each of these processes are customer focus and employee enablement. See below for the 9 principles — and the handy infographic to help you visualize these departmental processes.

  1. Sales Process: Train your sales people on the Discovery Selling Method as well as your product. Train often, no less than once per month.
  2. Sales compensation: Compensate your salespeople on both new business and retained business. Lower the BSN (brand spanking new) commissions in favor of a more generous recurring benefit.
  3. Account management compensation: Reward your account managers on both retained business and upsells.
  4. Contracting process: Depending on the complexity of the negotiation and contracting process, introduce the lead account manager before the contract is signed — if not before, then immediately upon contract acceptance.
  5. Account set up process: Ensure that both the sales lead and the account management lead are present for the initial call to ensure all information has been shared and understood by all parties.
  6. Onboarding process: Review the onboarding process completely either during the negotiation/contracting process or at account set up. Provide regular updates regarding the status of the process.
  7. Executive visibility: Assign a welcome call for each customer to a member of the senior team. In small companies, this is usually the CEO. At the very minimum, the head of sales can contact each new customer within one week of receiving a signed agreement.
  8. Customer satisfaction surveys: Establish a protocol for regular surveys. Consider a series that begins once the onboarding process has completed and then a routine 6-month NPS survey to keep the client engaged. Regardless of who executes these surveys, share the results with the heads of both sales and account management.
  9. Customer communications: Establish a routine communication plan containing regular product updates, company anecdotes and information as well as upselling messages.

The Partnership Promise, once in motion, will remain in motion through these processes.  Successful partnership is a constant evolution grounded in communication and collaboration.

 

The Partnership Promise Infographic

These 9 processes will help your business deliver an effective relationship — partnership — with your customers.