Talking with a professional the other day who sells a service, it occurred to me that many businesses fail to employ the single most effective marketing strategy to grow their business. Their people!
People work for people not a company. People buy from people not a company.
You do not have to employ a dedicated sales person to grow your business. Let me explain.
You enter a place of business and Rica the receptionist is handling another task and doesn’t even acknowledge you. So you sit and wait, and wait, and wait. Sometimes you wait while they finish a call to a friend or check their smartphone or finish checking their Facebook page. Not a very good first impression.
What you might not know, is that Rica is underpaid and treated as a dogs body. The other employees don’t even know her name let alone acknowledge she even exists even though she’s worked there for a year.
She is given all the jobs no one else wants to do and is bored, under-valued and retired even though she is only 20 years old. When she leaves work for the day and socializes with her friends, she’s asked the question, “Where do you work?” or “What do you do? Guess how she is going to respond. Not very good for business.
On her first day of work, Rosa arrives and finds a welcome card at her new desk signed by all the staff. A morning tea is arranged in her honor where she is introduced to the other team members who welcome her into the fray.
At the end of her first week, the other team members invite her to join them for Friday drinks. As the weeks go by, all the team members greet her by name with a huge welcoming smile each day and offer to bring her a coffee after their break.
After the first month, she is invited to a team meeting with all the managers, where she is asked her thoughts about an up and coming project and product launch. She is blown away that they are even interested in her thoughts.
She then regularly sits in on these meetings and many of her ideas are adopted that help the business operate more effectively.
After two months, she is sent on a sales training course where she learns more about how to handle incoming calls, up-sell appointments and refer clients to the right manager. She’s delighted her manager has invested in her personal development and she’s loving her workplace. Sales are on the upturn and Rosa has certainly contributed to this trend.
When Rosa leaves work for the day and socializes with her friends and is asked, “Where do you work?” or “What do you do? Guess how she is going to respond, with a great elevator pitch. Fantastic for business.
Dave the driver
Dave goes to a friend’s place for a barbecue and meets Jess and Joe who are thinking about renovating their kitchen. Dave just happens to work for a kitchen design company delivering the prefabricated kitchens to site and helps with the installation.
Dave gets chatting and asks Jess and Joe and finds out they are in the market for a new kitchen. He doesn’t try to sell them anything, yet. He’s been trained in sales basics and although he is not the formal salesperson, he understands the process. Dave delivers an outstanding elevator pitch and Jess and Joe want to know more.
Dave asks Jess and Joe questions and actively listens to the answers and finds out what their dominant buying motive is. Jess and Joe both work full time and they need a kitchen company to take care of everything from design, to installation and coordinating the flooring.
Because of the trust and rapport Dave built during that conversation, Jess and Joe end up buying their kitchen from the company Dave works at.
Tom the technician
Tom is a doctor who recently graduated and goes to work for a local doctor’s clinic. While he graduated top of his class, his bedside manner left a lot to be desired. As this was a small yet busy practice, they needed to employ someone quickly. On paper Tom had the goods, top of his graduating class.
After six months, one by one patients began to leave the practice. The practice manager couldn’t understand why until she did a reconciliation and understood that most of the patients who left had some contact with Tom. Asking for feedback, the practice manager found out that the patients did not like Tom which is why they left.
Tom was not well liked by the staff and patients alike. Although he was highly trained and an exceptional practitioner, he was gruff, arrogant and rude. He did not fit the culture of the organization he worked for and because of that, the clinic lost 10% of their patients.
1. Train your staff in sales
Everyone in your organization is a sales person and should be trained in basic sales. That’s because, every contact a potential client or customer has with any of your people leaves behind an impression of who you are, the quality of service you provide and how well you treat your people. It’s all about the customer experience.
No one should be trained in sales more that the people who answer the phone or who have day to day contact with customers. It’s not only the receptionist, technicians, accountants, customer service and delivery people, all your people who have direct or indirect contact with customers or potential customers. Their phone manner, service manner and how they handle opportunities and problems can lead to business growth.
The receptionist in particular is the front line of any business. They take incoming phone calls, greet clients, customers, suppliers and employees along with other stakeholders.
Don’t forget the accountant, they too should be trained in sales. Why – because they have to deal with debtors, suppliers and other stakeholders. When they are trained in sales, when asked “what do they do” at a networking or social occasion, they have the ability to also give a fantastic elevator pitch that leaves others wanting to know more.
Every single person in a business should be trained to deliver an elevator pitch so that whenever they are asked the question outside of work “What do you do?” they are able to answer in a positive and compelling manner that leaves potential customers asking more about what they do.
2. Employ on attitude
You could have the most qualified person in the world working in your business, if they don’t fit your culture and are not willing to be part of the solution, they can do more harm than good for your business.
The two best hires I ever made were both accountants and fresh out of college. Why? Because of their attitude and willingness to be part of a team.
During busy times, Maggie would come out of her office and help out at reception. Although her expertise was accounting, she often had to explain the contracts and payment plans our customers entered into. She had an amazing smile and treated everyone she spoke to as a VIP. Her manner was exceptional and her enthusiasm infectious. Yes, I put her through sales training and her customer service skills were second to none even though she was the accountant. She became part of the solution.
Jason also fitted the culture and in a very short period of time, his insights into costings and overheads meant he added value to the organization I worked for. Not only was he a brilliant accountant, he was able to sell his ideas to others in the organization which brought about positive changes to our systems and processes. We also saw a dramatic decrease in the cost of sales within a three-month period. Yes, I also put him through basic sales training.
3. Treat your people well
Because people buy from people not companies, every single employee represents your business. They do not have to be a dedicated sales person, however all your people can contribute to the growth and profitability of a business.
Many managers fail to share the company vision, goals and objectives with their team. They also fail to share the good results and focus only on the bad results. This alienates your people. Share your results, both good and bad and make sure they understand how important their role is and how they fit into the bigger picture. Every single person in your business has the ability to prospect for new customers informally. When your people understand the basic principles of selling, they can contribute to the overall success of a business.
When you treat your people well, empower them and make them part of the solution, they give back ten-fold. That’s because they love their boss, they love their job, they love what you have to offer and they love being part of a team and most of all, they love providing an exceptional service to your customers.
On a final note
When you look after your people, they in turn will look after your customers which will help grow your business exponentially.
In a Nutshell
- Put all your staff through basic sales training
- Invest in your front line people for they will give back what they receive
- Involve all your people in creating a compelling elevator pitch
- Employ people on their attitude not just their technical ability
- Involve your people by sharing with them the bigger picture
- Look after your people and treat them well