Understanding The Sales Team

“In some professions such a difference would be obvious. A salesman who sells 10x as much as his peers will be noticed, and compensated accordingly. Sales are easy to measure, and some salesmen make orders of magnitude more money than others.” ~ Joe Cook

Role of Sales

Sales is one of the most important aspects of any company. As Will says, “It’s their job to get you a paycheck.” They have both a duty to the company and to the customers. Nothing sells itself. The primary function of the sales team beyond gaining and retaining customers is to make people aware of the products the company produces. This is especially important in technology as many times the potential customer doesn’t even know they need the product. A salesman’s job is to make promises to customers. As developers we can assist them by making sure those promises come true.

Sales School 101

Sales is all about managing perceptions. This is done through advertising, public relations, customer satisfaction and customer acquisition. Knowledge of the product is very important here. Salesmen need to know the product’s quality, it’s ease of use, and reliability. They also must know about it’s design to create a “cool factor”.
Depending on where you look or where you are trained the sales process has varying amounts of steps but they all will fall within the following five categories. To start a salesman must prepare by knowing the product, knowing the customer, and knowing the market in which they are working. Once prepared a salesman will begin prospecting or searching out new customers. This can be done many different ways but it is best through the process of qualifying leads. That is looking for customers that can benefit and afford the product within the market it is designed for. This begins the next step which is an assessment of the need. This is an intelligence gathering step to find out what about the product does the customer need most and to prepare for objections. This is also the time where they will build up the need for the product. Once the need is assessed and identified the salesman will go through the presentation. Here they show how the product meets those needs. They will demonstrate the product and manage objections. Finally we reach the close, the most important part of the sales process. This is the make it or break it point of the sale. In the close the salesman uses all he has been taught to overcome objections and prove the need for the product.The close is so important that there is a phrase called the ABC’s of Sales. That stands for Always Be Closing. This can best be understood by thinking of sales as an asynchronous process. At each phase of the sales process the ultimate goal is to close and make the sale.

There are many more tactics and processes that sales teams will use during the sales process. These include The Jones Effect, Urgency, The 80/20 Rule, etc.

Differences in Pay Structure

Pay does not always match ability. In coding there is a high starting rate with a sharp increase in pay up to a plateau or ceiling. Whereas in sales most companies pay on a commission basis with no cap on what one can earn. The downside is that there is also no floor. Pure commission based sales can have high earning but can also go times without. This is one of the reasons for the high turn over in sales jobs.

How Can I Help?

As developers we can help the sales team out by sharing our intimate knowledge of the product and production time lines. Generally speaking we know what the future holds and what features are in the backlog that they can use to make a sale. Our input can help them make promises that can be kept.

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