Salespeople who work their way up the chain of command at a customer's company may have to field increasingly harder questions about specific capabilities. "We said we were experts, but we weren't," admits Tom Patrevito, co-owner of Booklet Binding, in Broadview, Ill. His solution: Have salespeople give team presentations in front of peers and in-house experts. Salespeople at Booklet Binding teamed up and spent eight weeks becoming experts in a topic area--saddle stitching, perfect binding, mailing, cutting, customer service, scheduling, estimating, and so on--then prepared a two- to three-hour presentation, complete with handouts.
One team created a takeoff on Reader's Digest, teaching about customer service under such familiar headings as "Laughter, the Best Medicine" and "Points to Ponder." A group studying pricing came up with a Jeopardy-style game. The program, which lasted over the course of a year, helped bring the sales representatives--who work on individual commission--together with other employees in the company. In addition, several sales reps have been invited to customers' sites to lecture on such topics as label personalization and postage tactics.