“To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.” – Harvey Mackay
A number of months ago I arrived at a hotel after a long early morning journey, through fog and darkness to a destination I wasn’t previously familiar with. As you can imagine it wasn’t the best preparation for a day long training session with an important client. I struggled through the front door with my equipment for the day to be greeted by the night receptionist, who wore a frown as he advised me that he had no record of the room booking and asked was I sure that I was at the correct venue?? There was no offer of a seat, a coffee while I waited for matters to be resolved or an assurance that he would do all that he could to deal with the initial booking error (as the room had definitely been booked).
It was after this experience that I began to think more about the number of organisations that invest in their sales teams while ignoring other parts of their business that are working against the general principles fundamental to a wider organisational sales strategy. In my hotel example the sales team could be the best around but if the front office staff lack customer care skills, if the kitchen produces food of a poor standard and if housekeeping fails to maintain the cleanliness of the establishment then longer term client relationships become impossible.
So what does an organisation that has sales and business development at its core do? To answer this I tend to look at the responsibilities of a variety of departments and stakeholders within the business.
The Strategic leadership team will strive to identify the organisation ‘Unique Value Proposition’ e.g. ‘what is it we do/offer that no one else does?’ They will be customer centric in their thinking e.g. ‘what would our customers want us to do?’ They will communicate a message that everyone is a salesperson for the organisation and encourage interaction between departments to focus on processes that support and not detract from sales efforts.
The Human Resource team will use methods that attract new talent who wish to work for a sales focused organisation. These methods will include an understanding of the skills and attributes of a great salesperson and employing selection methods that help to identify the very best sales candidate. HR will also establish performance management processes that have contribution to business growth and prosperity at the heart of the employee expectation. They will also have reward packages that acknowledge contributions to sales focused organisation KPIs such as customer satisfaction, service efficiency and product quality.
The IT department will develop systems that make it easy for clients to engage with your business and buy from you. This department will also produce internal management systems that easily allow managers to measure sales and sales contribution activities of employees.
The Production/Delivery/Customer Service teams will produce the best products and will always be focused on exceeding customer expectations. They will see their role as fundamental to the achievement of repeat sales as they are to the forefront of the customer experience. Customer Service teams will encourage clients to purchase more from you and will seek to establish opportunities for business improvement through client feedback.
There are many other examples of how staff can make a vital contribution to company sales. What is particularly important is that EVERY member of your staff can articulate how (and are enthused by) they make a direct and indirect contribution to sales efforts. Establishing key performance indicators related to matters related to customer experience, product quality, systems effectiveness etc will help to bring measurement to the activities we need to get right.
Creating a sales culture brings wider benefits to your organisation encouraging staff to be creative, innovative, team players and customer focused. They can be fun and rewarding places to work as staff wholly ‘buy in’ to the concept of their value to the success and growth of the business. For those reasons alone it is worth exploring where your business is on this sales journey.