What Experts Want Sales Reps to Know

Last Updated Sep 17, 2009 8:57 AM EDT

I recently posted some advice for coping with a sales call that includes the presence of your firm's in-house expert. (See "The Care and Feeding of Clueless Experts"). As a response, the blogger at Harding & Company pointed out that experts have some their own beefs about how sales reps treat them.
I'm obviously "on the side" of the sales pros when it comes to issues like this, but I have to admit that the Harding blogger has a point. I did a re-edit of the Harding post, which I've presented as advice from an in-house expert to a well-meaning (but perhaps over-enthusiastic) sales pro. Here's what your experts want you to know:

  • Request #1: Please don't sell our offering as if it were a widget. I worked hard to make our offering as simple as possible, but the truth is it takes some effort to understand what it does and why it works that way. So please don't promise customers that they can "plug and play" when in fact they'll need to engage their brains before they can make our offering useful.
  • Request #2: Please show my expertise the proper respect. I spent nearly a decade at a University to learn my subject matter so please don't try to structure a deal by ignoring my advice. I realize that you're doing this because you want to make the sale, but if the deal closes and we've misled the customer, the customer won't be happy. Trust me. Please.
  • Request #3: Please don't jump into "sales mode" all the time. I realize that if you don't make sales, we both don't have a job, but there are times when it just isn't appropriate to try to sell something. For example, if I'm brought into an account to provide background to other engineers, you'll just make then uncomfortable if you try to close business then and there.
  • Request #4: Please respect that I have client relationships, too. Yes, I realize that you have a "relationship" with the client, but the truth is that I have my own value-adding relationship, one based on the client's respect for my knowledge and advice. If you act as if that relationship does not exist, the client might request that you don't make any more sales calls.
  • Request #5: Please, please, please, keep me informed. If I don't know what's going on in an account, I might accidentally do something that will scuttle the opportunity. Or I might not be able to feed you some key bit of information that could help you close the deal. So keep me in the loop, and I'll do my best to keep you similarly informed. We're a team, so make me a full team member, OK?
READERS: Comments welcome on this one. For what it's worth I've been on both sides of the fence and have come to the conclusion that a good relationship between the sales group and the engineering group may be even more important than a good relationship between sales and marketing.