No, I’m not talking about tearing down walls and bringing in a foosball table. I’m talking about tearing down the walls that separate your team.

It’s all about results

Are you satisfied with the results you are getting in your business? 

Are getting the results you designed the business to achieve?

This is actually a trick question, because the reality is that EVERY business gets the exact results it’s designed to produce. It’s the design that determines the results. Of course that doesn’t mean you like the results you’re currently getting. But if that’s the case, you have to change the design in order to get more desirable results.

Let’s think about the most basic results you must achieve as a sales organization. Every day you’re working to:

1.) Keep the clients you have, and

2.) Get the clients you don’t.

To achieve these results, you must perform both sales work and service work. It might seem logical, then, that you would design your business around those activities of sales and service, right? Not so fast.

Back to those walls

How many of you struggle to find a healthy alignment between your sales and service team? I’m guessing most. In way too many instances it’s as if a huge wall has been built between the two. Sales and service typically operate in such silos that, at best, there is indifference or, at worst, outright resentment. This really shouldn’t be a surprise when you have designed the business around a separation of the two functions.

Why the separation is wrong

Let’s think for a moment about the successful outcomes of selling and servicing. Isn’t a new sale simply the result of promising the right value to a prospect during the sales conversation? And isn’t a renewal simply the result of having delivered on that promise (and hopefully more!) during the client experience?

Prospects and clients aren’t different people who value different things. They are the same people who value the same thing. You’re simply meeting them at different stages of the relationship.

Instead of designing your agency around the activities of sales and service, you need to be (re)designing your business around what it is that prospects/clients value. And what every business owner values is having their needs met. 

Everything you do as an agency needs to revolve around the needs of your clients.

The way it’s been

I know you tell yourself you are already focused on the needs of your clients, but at best you have been focused on a single need (insurance) and mostly focused on the price associated with that need.

A typical new business scenario has the producer competing on price, trying to impress with a list of “We have it, too!” value added services, and promising to be an extension of the HR department. When successful, they drag that new client back home, with no clearly defined expectations, and then toss it over the wall to the service team to figure it out.                                                               

The way it needs to be

When that future client is still a prospect, it is the first job of the sales team to learn about their business and identify their specific needs (insurance, compliance, technology, communication, wellness, etc.). From there, the sales team will earn that new client by making it very clear how they can address those multiple needs and help that future client get better results.

And if you truly want a cohesive team effort, the service team (we actually prefer the term “resell” team) should participate in some of the actual sales meetings. They should become integral to helping define the broader client needs, setting their expectations, and establishing additional agency relationships. When the service team is there from the beginning, there’s no longer a need for the dreaded “wall toss”. 

With the clear expectations that result from a joint effort, the sales team can now successfully and effectively hand-off that new client to the service/resell team with the confidence that comes with a clear understanding of client expectations and an established plan of execution. Having that clarity allows the resell team to successfully address the client needs during the client experience and ensure the re-sale (retention) of the account.

Now, both selling and reselling activities are focused on what the prospect/client values: having their needs met. This only happens once the walls have come down.

Seems rather logical, doesn’t it?

Back to this “resell” label

As a sales organization, you have to recognize that EVERYONE who has any type of client engagement is a part of the sales team. We all recognize that producers have the responsibility of selling prospects on why they should become a client, but it is the service team who must resell existing clients on why they should remain a client.

When you refer separately to your “sales team” and your “service team” you create separation and internal conflict. In reality, they are all a part of the same team— responsible for meeting the needs of your clients. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Help your service team get over whatever hang-ups they may have about the idea of selling by making sure they all understand that it’s simply a validation of our understanding of and commitment to meeting client needs.

Now, go tear down the walls, create a unified team, and take the fight to the competition.

Photo by Eelke de Blouw