Straight from the Horse’s Mouth (Interview Sales)

September 29th, 2010 by Marcus Tewksbury

If you want to know what’s happening with your customers, start with your sales team.  Nobody should have a better perspective than sales.  They are in constant contact with the customer and are highly compensated for their ability to establish and grow relationships.

Success in sales is tied to the ability to understand a client’s problem and translate that into a solution that can be delivered.  As it so happens, that’s exactly what’s also needed for truly effective marketing.  As a starting point, therefore, you need to get out there and talk to your sales team.

Organize formal interviews.  Make sure you’ve polished up your questions and can get the meetings executed in 30-45 minutes.  Also, appreciate, while a salesperson may not have a strategic perspective, they will know their individual facets extremely well.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that every day these people sitting across from you are out there laying it on the line.  If they don’t produce, they are gone.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Start with your seasoned folks who’ve seen the good and bad of selling your products.  To get deep insights into what may or may not work it’s very important to get a three-sixty degree view of a deal.  Try to find out all the steps taken and the impact they had.  Also, don’t be afraid to target loses, some of the most instrumental lessons have been learned in a losing effort.

In the quest for customer understanding, your first stop should always be sales.  There are many steps that come after, but this one should give you a huge step up in framing how you approach customer discovery.


•    Sales is on the frontline with customers every day
•    Organize 30 minute interviews with structured questions
•    Talk to seasoned folks with lots of wins and losses
•    Don’t focus on high level strategic issues, but more tactical relationship ones

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