Thought articles

Who do your customers really want to speak to?

Do customers prefer to talk to someone else rather than a sales person?

Sales people aren’t the only people your customers speak to.  A growing number of companies are focusing on how they can ensure that a wider range of people have the right skills to make the most of their contact with customers.

Underwriters, operational teams, consultants, lawyers, project managers and other highly technical staff probably know your customers at least as well – or in some cases even better – than anyone. Often when a customer is looking for some advice, or another perspective, their first port of call is often a ‘technical expert’.

Technical experts also need commercial skills

So do these technical experts have the commercial skills and demonstrate the right behaviours when engaging and interacting with your customers? And what’s driving the need to upskill these people?

We are seeing the following trends…

As more and more smaller purchases are made on-line – buyers are looking for more advice and guidance on the larger, more complex decisions, and this means talking to an expert who will guide, provide perspective, challenge thinking and offer technical know-how.

Business development and sales teams seem to be moving to a role of opening new accounts, and developing existing relationships – whilst introducing their technical colleagues earlier in the sales process.

Therefore, technical experts are talking and engaging with customers earlier and more frequently and need to be able to ask the right questions, respond to enquiries and shape the customer’s thinking.

Building relationships and developing new opportunities now involves a much wider range of people

As the deal gets bigger, customers often want to meet the people that they will work with on a day-to-day basis and underwriters, consultants and operational teams are involved in joining pitches more than they’ve ever done before.

It stands to reason that when customers have a problem or idea they want to share, the first person they will speak with is someone they know well who can offer advice and perspective.

Instead of simply providing a technical answer, individuals who are more commercially aware are asking questions, providing a counter argument, and knowing how to effectively meet a customer need, or to spot and develop a new opportunity.

Although these technical specialists may involve the sales team for bigger deals, we are definitely seeing a trend for opportunities to be developed, progressed and closed by a much wider range of people.

Technical experts are expected to add value

Underwriters, consultants and operational teams are expected to add more value, develop closer relationships and drive new opportunities like never before – if they have the desire, skills and wherewithal to do this.

The more forward thinking companies recognise that to bring their brand alive and put their customers first requires more than a professional, slick sales team and that everyone who comes into contact with a customer needs to know how to make the most of these valuable interactions.

Solution Cell is helping technical experts to acquire commercial skills.

70% of our commercial skills training is now focused on people who have traditionally been seen as technical or customer service specialists.

Much of our current work and many of our new enquiries include audiences such as insurance underwriters and claims people, financial services professionals, systems experts, consultants, operational teams and lawyers.

Their interests range from relationship building, account management, presentation skills and customer service through to negotiation and trading skills. There’s one ‘common thread’ though; companies are becoming more aware of the importance of ensuring that all of their people who have customer contact, demonstrate the ‘right’ customer behaviours, consistently.

Paul Jakeman is a Client Director at Solution Cell and repeatedly sees this first hand. So it’s no surprise that at Solution Cell all our team are on hand to speak to clients and talk through their plans and challenges.