Everyone at your company is in sales. The person answering the phones is in charge of first impressions. The employee delivering your products has the ability to spot new opportunities and build relationships. Customer service personnel can determine whether or not you keep a client based on their handling of a complaint.
However, if you walk into any organization and ask a member of the team what department they work in, the typical answer is accounting, legal, or marketing. What would happen if the answers changed to: I am in sales and service. Isn’t this at the very core of why a company exists? If you don’t sell something, you have nothing to bill, ship or service. If you don’t service the client, you soon have nothing to sell or ship.
So how do you create a selling culture at your company? What do you need to do to change or teach your employees that sales is not a department?
Start with basic education and communication. Help members of your organization recognize how to contribute to the top line by learning a few sales basics. Focus education and communication on these three areas.
Who Do You Serve Best?
Most companies build their target lists around SIC codes, size of company, revenue, number of employees and/or geography. This criteria is called demographics. However, when you really dig into who your best customers are, you will hear different criteria. “They treat us like a partner, they value what we do, they collaborate, they pay their bills” appear. These attitudes and behaviors are called psychographics and are often overlooked when educating your employees on who you serve best.
Teach members of your team how to recognize both the demographics and the psychographics so they can listen and look for opportunities. For example, if one of your employees reads about a company that is philanthropic, that company might be a good target for your organization because their values align with your culture. If an employee is at a party and hears an acquaintance discussing expansion of their firm into another part of the country, that could be a good trigger event to report back to headquarters.
What’s Your Value Proposition?
Your employees belong to community organizations such as home owners associations, churches and school groups. At some point in their involvement, the question will pop up, where do you work? This is a prime selling opportunity for any of your employees. Your staff can reply with one of two answers. The first response is a dud. “I work at XYZ company. We DO this.” It’s a dead end response that doesn’t enlighten the person asking the question about problems you solve or opportunities you create for clients. Teach your team basic sales skills and change the response to, “I work at XYZ company. We help our clients customers decrease frustration with technology that doesn’t work. Or, “We help our clients figure out which new products to roll out and which ones to shelve.”
Now, there are a few of you reading this article thinking….my people can’t do that. Folks, if your team can learn the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school, surely they can learn a one line value proposition!
Create Raving Fans
Everyone knows that it’s less expensive to keep a client than acquire a new one. There is an old saying that two heads are better than one. How about getting 15 heads together? Ask each person to share their ideas on how to exceed customer expectations?
For example, the accounting department could sign invoices, thanking your best clients for paying on-time. What about having the warehouse team send a picture of their staff with a note thanking your customers for the opportunity to serve them every day?
At your next department meeting, set aside time for brainstorming on ways to WOW your customers. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Study some of the companies that are already doing it well. Zappos, an on-line shoe store company, is the one of the darlings of the business world. Everyone that works at Zappos knows they are in the customer service business, not the shoe business. And as a result, every employee is focused on ways to WOW the client. Some of you might have experienced this WOW factor by receiving your first order overnight—without any extra charges.
Everyone is in charge of customer happiness at Zappos. And everyone at your company can be in charge of sales and service at your company. Sales and service is not a department. Harness the power of many and get everyone in your company involved in selling and servicing your clients. Double your sales force without any additional payroll. How’s that for a competitive edge in 2012?