Main illustration: Chau Long
Sales is a client facing role, meaning you are communicating with customers and potential customers on a daily basis. Over time, you can accumulate a lot of knowledge regarding who your customers are, what their primary needs are and how your offering could potentially meet these needs.
At Intercom, Customer Days, where people from across the company shadow customer support representatives and respond to customer enquiries, have become common as a way of removing the layers separating the people who make our products from the people who use the products. We have also introduced Sales Days. They serve much the same purpose as Customer Days in bridging gaps between the people who build your product or your company with the people who are using what you sell but we’ve also found that Sales Days have become an invaluable source internally for knowledge sharing.
A Sales Day gives Intercom staff the opportunity to come and work with the Sales team to learn more about how the team works, interacts with customers and prospects and what these particular conversations look like. A typical Sales Day consists of shadowing reps, sitting in on calls and learning about the sales team’s processes, affording the participants a fresh insight into how the sales team pitches Intercom, responds to prospects’ questions and learn more about the problems that Intercom solves for our customers.
The benefits of Sales Days go beyond sharing the workings of the sales team. The experience gives people outside of the sales team a better understanding of who our customers are and what needs they have. The Sales Days also showcase how we use Intercom to sell Intercom and, more specifically, how we use Intercom to capture leads through live chat, send targeted messages and convert them into paying customers. It also highlights how Intercom can be used for the full sales cycle, passing prospects from sales development reps (SDR) to account executives (AE) to relationship managers (RM).
We have found that the clearest wins from Sales Days are a result of the natural conversations that flow from all parties involved. Sales Days are an invaluable vehicle for cultural transfer – everybody across the organisation benefits from getting a much clearer perspective on what customers want and need and how those conversations happen.
These benefits are true of any company, not just Intercom. Everyone likes to think they know what their customers want at all times but at a certain stage, maintaining that clarity becomes a task of its own. Having a setup like a Sales Day, where the various people dealing with your customers and prospective customers can communicate openly with product people, allows an invaluable transfer of knowledge that can only benefit all parties involved.
Here are our top tips for a successful Sales Day:
- At Intercom, we like to limit Sales Days to two people so the experience can be as personal as possible. We usually kick off the day with a short 15-minute introductory presentation, giving a holistic overview of the Sales Org and how we work. This includes breaking down the sales funnel, mapping the customer journey and an introduction to the various team members and their roles – from Sales Development Reps, to Account Executives, Relationship Managers and the Senior Management team.
- The next session is a 30-45 minute shadowing session of SDRs at work. The goal of this is to show how we manage live chat conversations and outreach to prospects through targeted messaging, email and video messaging in some cases.
- Once the Sales Day attendee has had time to understand how the team operates, they will sit in on a 30-minute call with a member of the AE team. Most of the time this will be a discovery call with a prospect, where the AE will deepdive into their intended use case, problems they are experiencing with their current workflows and how Intercom can bring them business value.
- Following the call, the attendee will sit down for a 30-minute chat with one of our Relationship Managers. The aim of this is to discuss our book of accounts and gain an insight into how our bigger customers are using Intercom.
- Once the final session concludes, we always send a short survey to gather feedback on the experience so we can work to continually better the process.
What are the benefits of Sales Days?
Getting to work with and speak to people outside your usual teams about our customers and product is invaluable. For example, working with colleagues from our product teams has allowed me to learn the full potential and power of our products, changing my workflows and teaching me to use our Messages product in a smarter and more targeted way to trial leads.
Following some customer support team members’ Sales Day, I learned to better distinguish between sales and support conversations in our Inbox product and how best to pass these conversations over to our customer support team to avoid friction or confusion.
Regardless of department and tenure, it’s also always enjoyable to meet new people, put names to faces and build relationships outside of your usual team, especially in a growing company.
Putting product first
Our engineers build Intercom and continue to ship new features week in week out. When it comes to Sales Days, it’s extremely beneficial for them to see how we are using Intercom internally but also how our customers use Intercom – whether that is for sales, support or marketing automation.
What is unique about Intercom is that we use Intercom to sell Intercom. In common tech terminology, Sales Development Reps like myself ‘dogfood’ our product by using live chat to qualify prospects and pass them down the funnel to an account executive to close. This often occurs in real time through the same Intercom conversation.
Engineers also benefit from seeing first hand specific feature requests that may be deal blockers in some cases. It can be significant that the feedback is being seen by somebody who might be in a position to act on it immediately. Potentially, this can assist product teams to close feature gaps and add new features to their roadmap.
Sales Days resemble a “learning-by-doing” approach, and in many ways it’s superior to reading up on internal docs or watching high level demo videos.
At the end of the (Sales) day…
Sales Days enable cross-collaboration along with cultural and knowledge sharing at Intercom. By the end of the session, attendees should have a better insight into who our customers are, what their needs are, how our sales team is structured and a better context of different roles at Intercom.
At the end of the day people buy from people, not businesses. By having every person in your business – from engineering to HR – understand the value of your products and know how we pitch that value to prospective customers, you are helping to turn everyone in your organization into salespeople for your company.