A client of ours who provides engineering and integration services recently established an alliance with a hardware/component distributor. It’s a great match, dramatically extending the value each company can provide to its customers. The challenge to our client is educating their new partner’s 1,500 sales reps.
While they’re great at selling hardware, selling services is a whole new ball game for these folks. They’re used to having a very tangible product. Something that comes packed in a box. Something that has features A, B and C; capabilities X, Y and Z. Something very easy to describe. You can’t put a service into a cardboard box. It’s as intangible as it gets. They’ll have a whole new set of objections to manage. “I already have engineers on staff. I’m already paying them. Why would I ever want to pay your engineers too?”
They hired us to do what we told them we could do. In other words “to harvest the necessary sales education content, put it into electronic format and deliver it via a blog platform on a secure, internal network.” We’ve set an expectation to have 150 active users within 6 months, steadily growing usage from the outset and, most importantly, a steadily increasing flow of new opportunities in terms of both number and size. Here’s the type of content we plan to use:
- Various combinations of text, images, audio and video for all content
- An introductory webinar (that will be recorded and archived) introducing “The Portal” (Note: We actually have a much cooler name for it, but it’s confidential.)
- A core set of six 5-7 minute videos that lay out the nature of the alliance and what it can deliver
- An e-newsletter to announce, point to, support, supplement and complement the blog
- A series of excerpts (video accompanied by explanatory text) from a series of panel discussions regarding why this alliance was established, what these services are and why should my customer care, how to start a conversation about services, why they’re valuable, etc.
- A call-in radio show/podcast featuring interviews of reps about their experiences – good and bad – with the alliance
- A series of face-to-face “How’s it going?” interviews with field reps and managers
- A focus on case studies and success stories
- Constant monitoring of comments and feedback promptly followed by appropriate feedback.
What are we missing? What are the flaws in this plan? Can we be successful with this approach?