Each new customer represents a world of upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Unfortunately, for some companies, the sales process halts within moments of a deal converting into an account. Although there are many possible explanations for this issue, a common cause stems from the divide between sales and frontline operations.

In this post, we’ll explore a strategy for bridging the divide by turning your frontline team into your best sellers.

Why Doers Should Be Your Best Sellers

It’s 9:07 am, which means your implementation team should be knee-deep into an onboarding discussion with your newest client (a regional chain of coffee shops). As a well-respected web consulting firm, your company prides itself in providing rapid turnaround time, excellent coaching, and, most importantly, websites that deliver results.

As you take another sip of coffee, you can’t help but wonder what is actually being discussed. You own the business, so it’s certainly within your purview to pop into the conference room and listen in. Giving it more thought, you decide to just wait until lunch when you’ll see Dominic, your most experienced project manager.

Noon rolls around, and you stroll to the break room. Sure enough, there’s Dominic having his usual ham sandwich and pretzels. You pull up a chair and start a casual conversation. As the discussion moves toward work topics, you feel your blood pressure begin to rise.

You: “So, Dominic, how was your call this morning with the coffee shop chain?”

Dominic: “It went fine, but things have been moving slower than most projects. They’re still recruiting some graphic designers to help with the rebranding process. Their in-house IT staff is also trying to connect their analytics software to the new site, but they keep running into issues.”

You: “Did you mention that we could handle all of that for them?”

Dominic: “I did, but they never got back to me on it.”

As Dominic gets up to recycle his empty soda bottle, a flood of questions race through your mind. How much are customer-caused delays costing us in overhead and lost time? Why didn’t Dominic push harder for the cross-sell opportunity? What other opportunities are we missing out on? What, if anything, might have motivated Dominic to actually follow up again?

Clearly, frontline team members like Dominic have the most in-depth understanding of customer needs at your company. By the nature of their jobs, they live and breath the intricacies of each customer’s unique situation. Clients trust their judgment and (usually) listen to them, which puts them in an especially powerful position to make recommendations – including those that involve additional services.

Sadly, as we saw with Dominic, few team members ever fully capitalize on the opportunity.

Planning a Paradigm Shift

Back at your desk, you decide to log in to your project management system and create a new project called “Operation: Frontline Selling.” The goal of this project will be to explore and (hopefully) correct the situation uncovered in your chat with Dominic. In reality, you’ve known this has been going on for a while, but now is the right time to take action.

Using the project’s description as a virtual notepad, your first step is to gather everything that’s going through your mind:

  • Designing a “house account” bonus program
  • Company-wide CRM access
  • Training for frontline workers
  • Emphasis on reporting & KPIs
  • New pipeline

At first glance, it seems like a rough list of random ideas. But hey, it’s a start. Before closing the project, you set yourself a task reminder to work on this again tomorrow.

Providing Access to the Whole Story

The next morning, you have a renewed spring in your step. Operation: Frontline Selling has been on your mind since yesterday, and you already know what your first move should be.

Wasting no time, you jump into your project and create three initial milestones:

  • Coordinating an in-person meeting with your leadership team
  • Providing frontline workers with CRM access
  • Offering CRM training to new users

Scheduling the kickoff meeting can be easily delegated to your administrative assistant, which you promptly do. However, the other two milestones will require some additional thought. To make your project successful, frontline workers are going to need the same access to customer information as your outside sales team. But, how much information do they actually need? Should the company consider utilizing role permissions to find the right balance? These are all questions that must be answered.

At the kickoff meeting, you share your vision for this new program. You reiterate that your ultimate goal is to have everyone at the company – especially frontline staff – be engaged in the selling process. You’ve even outlined an intriguing incentive policy, which your operations manager finds particularly interesting.

After a healthy discussion with your management, everyone seems in agreement on the next steps:

  • Finalize the program (bonus requirements, etc.)
  • Scope out in-house opportunity tracking best practices
  • Announce the program
  • Work with IT to onboard and train new CRM users
  • Define goals and KPIs

Luckily, you’ve already started a project in Insightly, which can be easily shared with each member of your leadership team.

Share Insightly Project with Team

A few additional milestones later, and the meeting is brought to a close. The team agrees to reconvene again in a few days and aims to go live late next week. It’s no doubt an aggressive timeline, but it seems doable.

Simplifying the Collection of Opportunities

Having volunteered to “own” the opportunity tracking milestone, you begin toying with several different use cases. The more you think about it, the more you’re convinced that the company needs a dedicated pipeline specifically for in-house deals. You watch a few refresher videos on how to set one up (such as this one).

Using Dominic’s aforementioned situation as the case study, you map out what appears to be the perfect pipeline for your internal sales process. Here’s a quick recap of what you’ve come up with:

Opportunity Creation: When an upsell or cross-sell opportunity presents itself, team members will simply find the person’s contact record, click “Add New Opportunity for Contact,” link it to the correct company, enter the relevant details, and select the in-house pipeline.

Opportunity Routing: Using a series of activity sets and workflows, you’re able to automatically assign and route new opportunities to the correct account manager. The sales team can then promptly follow up and work with the opportunity’s originator to advance the deal.

Opportunity Collaboration: By designing a pipeline that relies on both frontline staff and your sales team, you’re able to create greater accountability and redundancy – all of which is completely transparent in each opportunity record. Did a sales rep forget to follow up? Did the opportunity’s originator fail to provide useful information? Your new process gives you the information you need to move your company forward.

Celebrating Accomplishments

As exciting as pipeline automation might be, you’re also going to need a simple way to track the program’s overall success. After all, an automated sales pipeline is only useful if people are actually using it.

Since you’re planning on using a dedicated pipeline, it should be a breeze to track opportunity volume and revenue impact. Department heads can easily customize, save, group, and subscribe to the reports they need to push for results.

For example, let’s say you want to monitor how many opportunities are being identified by your old pal, Dominic. Just jump into your library of prebuilt Insightly reports and get customizing. Within a few minutes, you’re able to save a report that shows every opportunity that he has originated.

Better yet, Insightly can even be configured to email you on a predefined schedule or when a certain threshold is met. This helps you stay on top of Dominic’s productivity without having to manually log in, create new reports, and search for your answers. Insightly does the work for you, allowing you to stay focused on more pressing matters.

And, when the company finally closes its first $10,000 deal originated by Dominic, you’ll be ready to send him a personalized congratulatory message!

Your Doers Can (& Should) Be Selling

As we’ve discussed in this article, it is possible to integrate your frontline staff into the selling process. Doing so, however, requires a well-crafted vision from the top along with a decisive cultural shift. It also demands a nimble CRM that can easily accommodate an outside-the-box sales pipeline.

If your company is missing out on opportunities with existing clients, it’s time you took control of the situation. As the old saying goes, “It’s easier to sell to existing customers than new ones!”

matt-keener-2

Matt Keener is a marketing consultant and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. Matt specializes in content marketing and strategic planning, having helped numerous Saas (software as a service) companies and other small businesses worldwide. Read more of Matt’s work, get his book, or connect on LinkedIn.