Sell internally and externally, otherwise you will soon be piping these common lamentations by salespeople. “I was let down by back-office?”, “ Whose job is it?” “Why me?”
As a salesperson, where does your job end? Is it after you have delivered the cheque (sold externally)? Is customer service your work? More importantly, is back-office work, your work? Well, let’s see.
Internal selling vs. External Selling
Back-office is where the sales rubber meets the road; back office staff will keep the promises that front office (sales) made. Back-office work could be anything from opening the bank account, to having the factory production being attuned to customer demand, to having the advertising space booked or room/hotel reservation made. Many institutions have distinct back offices and front (sales) offices. This structure is meant to emphasize specialization and to keep the salesperson focused on selling not bogged down by back office work. In theory, this structure is perfect; in practice however, the dynamism of human behavior denies this perfection.
Back-office may not always appreciate the pressure or dynamism those at the front line face- few people do. In addition, back office will most probably work at their own pace as dictated by their departmental priorities which may not always align to those of Sales. To be fair, salespeople may apply undue pressure on back-office. They may not always fathom process flow, procedure and such other matters that translate to ‘slowness’ in their fast-paced mind. Hence, their lamentation that “Back-office let me down”; and, the lamentation by back-office that, “Sales people promise heaven out there, then put pressure on us here on earth to deliver it. Nkt!”
Sell internally and externally: External sales meaning
Back-office and sales wrangles are as old as the profession. Judging from feedback from different industries, it is not ending any time soon. Who’s to blame is a question as old as the wrangles have existed and it is not the purpose of this post to answer. The purpose here is to explore the predicament. After all, when promises are not kept, it’s you the salesperson who’s on the firing line by the customer; you did after all make that promise.
This is not a position to shy away from; it’s a challenge to the profession that the progressive salesperson takes in his stride. A salesperson is always selling-even when defending his company for failing to keep a promise. Because the salesperson is always selling, the progressive salesperson sells externally (to prospects) and internally (to back-office). The progressive salesperson sees the sale through. Having promised heaven on earth, and knowing that he needs others to bring heaven to earth, he sells his way through this promise until voila, heaven! This is what t sell internally and externally means.
Example, advantages and disadvantages of using internal selling methods
What do I mean? No-one will truly understand the prospect-salesperson chemistry except the salesperson himself. Because of this, the salesperson, being the business owner he is, sees the full picture and manages the process through and through. It especially helps if he has commercial skills. Anyway, as I was saying, he sells internally as well as externally. For example, a successful insurance agent I know understands the 360 degree sales process of insurance premium financing from his bank of choice. Insurance premium finance is a short-term loan from a bank, specifically to pay insurance premium (cost).
Not only has he established the bank’s internal processes, he also knows the influential persons (not necessarily bosses) in the respective departments the process goes through. Keep in mind that he does not even work in the bank; he has just taken it upon himself to find out and befriend these individuals and make it easy to sell to (internally). He calls to find progress of his application, requests and gets favours which, while ethical, aren’t always as per procedure. Little wonder then that he is able to bring heaven to earth more often than not, and faster. (Read how to break stalemate with slow back office)
Selling internally and externally beneficial
Discussions with back-office staff are also very revealing. Turns out that despite rules and procedure, back-office staff are also human and are not always averse to supporting the progressive salesperson who respects them and what they do. The operative words here are progressive and respect. Back-office staff will rarely, if ever, let down the successful salesperson, or the one who has established a working relationship with them. (That is, one who has sold internally). It is usually the mediocre or disrespectful salesperson they tend not to prioritize. Find out if this is true from your institution.
Selling does not end with the promise of heaven on earth; it never ends really- even after the salesperson has brought heaven to earth by selling internally as well as externally.
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