Sales is one of those professions that’s frowned upon by many. It’s not sexy, and it certainly isn’t glamorous. The selling process can be very frustrating at times especially when the potential buyer is reluctant, and there are always those budgets and sales targets that have to be met month after month. (Don’t you dread those monthly sales meetings?) Most importantly, sales involves a relatively high rejection rate which doesn’t sit well with most of us.
Yet, without “sales” there wouldn’t be any business around, not even in the non-profit sector. That’s right; even non-profits are constantly engaged in sales. Whether they’re selling subscriptions to potential members or the extent of their work’s impact to donors and constituents, selling is a main key to every organization’s growth and prosperity.
Regardless of your particular position in your organization, sales is a function that you need to exercise to some degree at all times. Even if you are tucked away in administration or accounting, you still need to contribute to the overall sales process in one way or another. (That’s why the extended marketing mix incorporates “people” and “processes”). But before we dwell deeper, let’s agree on what we mean by “sales”.
Sales is not the stereotyped “push-over, bullying, and tactical” approach to close a sale as many think of it to be. Sales is the art of communicating with a prospect to identify his/ her needs, determine which solution can be of help and value, and then proposing a successful implementation thereof. And if your job does not involve such a direct sales function, you still need to contribute to the overall process by demonstrating your organization’s customer-centric approach in its processes (if you’re in administration) or show customers how transparent your organization is when it comes to handling their payments, refunds, and what have you (if you’re in accounting). All of these ad great value to the overall sales process, so whether you like it or not, one way or another you will always be part of your company’s sales process.
Here are some examples of non-sales positions that will leave a strong impact on the potential customer’s willingness to buy from your brand or not.
Your receptionist, and by that we mean the very first point of contact someone has with your brand is of critical importance. A rude telephone operator can set off the entire customer acquisition process onto the wrong track. The same applies to your valet service, lobby personnel, etc.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that you train theses initial touch points extremely well as the impression they will make on your potential customer is a lasting one. This becomes of particular importance if your organization is renting offices at a location that offers shared services. With a team of people serving an entire building and multiple tenants, it can become very easy for someone whose a total stranger to chase off your potential customers before they even set foot in your office.
The Technical Team
In our case (consulting) for example, one might assume that once a contract is signed and the project commences, the sales process is done with. This assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. With the sales team out of the picture, it is now up to the technical team to promote and foster repeat business and even up-selling and cross-selling other relevant services.
And how do they accomplish that? Well, primarily by delivering exceptional work, and by responding to potentially undetected needs the client may have for other services we offer. So for example, while working with a client on a marketing plan for company A, Farah may detect that the client is launching company B for which they need a business plan. Farah has two options now; she could continue focusing on delivering a great marketing plan for company A, or she could also ring up Salim in sales and pipe him into one her meetings with the client to discuss what the firm could offer for company B. And bingo! Farah has just successfully introduced a new lead to the company’s sales funnel.
This is an obvious one; management – of all departments – need to constantly wear their sales-hat; they interact with a lot of people day in day out, have a thorough understanding of their entire organization and its values, and are in a great position to open new doors for the sales team. And yes, this includes the HR and operations managers as well.
Members of management typically get to network and interact a lot with new people, whether that’s done by attending events or dealing with other companies (such as suppliers and service providers. And who says those can’t become clients as well?) And since they – being managers and all – have such a thorough understanding of all the great products and services the company has to offer, they are in a great position to blend those into casual conversations, and by doing so open new doors that otherwise would have remained unexplored.
Board Members and Shareholders
We’ve seen cases where board members and shareholders contribute absolutely no value to the sales funnel, and we’ve seen others where either generated more leads than the marketing and sales teams combined. Always remind your directors and shareholders that they have a vested interest in the company, and that any sales they help generating will most likely increase their dividends and share value.
As is the case with your management team, equip them with the tools and marketing arsenal they can use as needed. So for example, provide your board members with company business cards and email address which they can hand out during networking events. At the same token, supply your shareholders with extra copies of annual reports and company brochures so they can hand those out to friends and peers.
Again, sales is not about pulling out samples of a bag and pitching a product or service to someone who may not even need it. It’s a combination of demonstrating effectively how a brand can fulfill a certain need, and equally important by making an experience with a brand all that more pleasant and rewarding.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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