Unique Strategy to Enhance Sales Process
Summer is here! In my house, that means home repair — along with trips to the beach and backyard barbecues.
Last weekend, I was fixing my back deck after a long, harsh winter. I made a list of what needed doing — some chores easy, some requiring a bit more expertise than what’s in my wheelhouse. (Hey, I’m a lawyer, not a carpenter!)
Off I went to my local big box hardware store, figuring everything I needed would be under their one big roof. Ugh! I spent over an hour walking up and down the aisles looking for parts and materials. When I finally got the attention of an employee, he didn’t seem to know any more than I did about deck repair.
So, I got in my car and drove to my local hardware store. As soon as I stepped in the door, a clerk came over and asked if I needed help. It quickly became apparent that he had significant DIY experience. Twenty minutes later, I was on my way home with the parts I needed and a good sense of how to get the work done.
All in all, it was a nice reminder that despite the big box store’s relative advantage in pricing, selection, parking, and hours of operation, the little guys excel in customer service. Specifically, by having staff that knows what they’re talking about and consistently provides useful and reliable information.
When it comes to negotiating contracts and closing sales, your legal counsel can play the same role. By acting as a source of useful and trusted information, your legal advisor can help you get the deal done faster and better. Indeed, a unique strategy involves…
Building Trust by Engaging Your Legal Counsel Early
Today’s business landscape is complex; trust is an especially critical component of any successful sales relationship.
To establish this trust and build lasting partnerships with customers, your salespeople should make a practice of involving legal counsel very early in the sales process. Maybe I’m a little biased, but your counsel’s unique expertise and perspective will smooth the bumps and (typically) reduce the time to close. Here’s how…
#1. Addressing Customer Needs and Pain Points Early
Frequently, a vendor’s sales team doesn’t become fully aware of customer needs and pain points until the contract negotiation process begins — i.e., when material details are finally “put to paper.” By bringing legal experts in early, specific needs are identified and insights are gained regarding industry-specific challenges.
At that early point, legal counsel can serve as a valuable resource to drill down on specific requirements and hurdles — that will enable counsel to connect each party’s relevant team members or to provide creative solutions — ultimately decreasing the likelihood that deal-breaking roadblocks may arise late in the sales process.
For example, I’ve participated in transactions where security-related requirements weren’t fully identified until late in the sales process. By assisting my client in identifying these issues early on, I’ve been able to pull in and connect the right people and facilitate resolution of the issues in a timely manner.
#2. Providing Quick Follow-Up and Resolution
Timely response and resolution of issues are paramount in maintaining customer trust throughout the sales process. Legal counsel, working closely with the sales teams and other functions within the company, can serve as the quarterback for getting things done. Examples include expediting reviews by relevant internal teams, connecting the customer with appropriate individuals within the vendor’s organization, and resolving miscellaneous hurdles or roadblocks that arise. (See my prior newsletter about “playing your position”.)
By coordinating discussions, honoring commitments, and providing quick follow-up, legal counsel demonstrates the company’s dedication to resolving issues promptly. Taken together, this fosters customer confidence in the company’s commitment to its interests.
#3. Providing Effective and Transparent Communication
Attorneys are trained to pay meticulous attention to detail and ensure that needs and concerns are uncovered. These attributes allow for the prompt, comprehensive, and straightforward tackling of issues on the customer side — building trust and, again, fast-tracking the process.
During a recent negotiation, a large enterprise’s counsel was concerned about the data security protections in place on my SAAS client’s marketing platform. Engaged in the process, I was able to follow up with a few questions and identify the prospect’s true concerns. More importantly, given the nature of the SAAS platform, we convinced counsel that these concerns weren’t valid. Satisfied, the customer’s counsel backed off on several initial, onerous security requirements.
#4. Demonstrating Honesty and Transparency
Salespeople are paid to close deals. Inevitably, that reality requires walking a fine line between persuasion and providing factual information — puffery can sometimes go too far.
Legal counsel has a different orientation. Our job is to act as a guiding force, providing accurate information, addressing concerns head-on, and setting realistic expectations — all of which ensure that sales interactions remain open, honest, and transparent.
As a result, I’ve been involved in numerous cases where the alignment between sales and legal teams promotes and demonstrates integrity, which is essential for building trust and long-term relationships with customers.
#5. Addressing Legal Risks
Every transaction invites some risk for a customer, and to the extent a customer’s perception of this risk is minimized, the better. Early in the process, legal counsel can provide the customer with guidance regarding a vendor’s efforts to mitigate this risk, ultimately reassuring prospects and customers of the company’s commitment to a secure and long-term business partnership.
Further, and as I pointed out in a previous newsletter, the sales process may offer an opportunity to explain your company’s approach to customer care and support. Here, you can point out characteristics that may distinguish your ongoing service from others in the industry (e.g., dedicated reps handling the account, rep seniority, average response time, etc.).
Whatever the specifics, making it clear that the customer will be in good hands throughout the relationship may ultimately forestall opposing counsel from inserting draconian, worst-case-scenario obligations.
As my hardware store experience demonstrated, people want to do business with engaged, qualified, trustworthy individuals. This is especially true when the dollars are significant and the relationship will be long term.
By involving your legal counsel early and comprehensively, you’ll move your transactions — and contracts — along in the best and fastest way possible.