This article was written by Ed Hatton for Entrepreneur Magazine (South African edition), as the My Mentor column published in August 2015 and is posted here by their kind permission
Turn your whole company into an enthusiastic unit that aids and promotes your sales
It is in the interests of any employee to do anything they can to ensure the business makes sales, or at least not put sales at risk. Aside from loyalty to their employer, a healthy and growing business means everyone is better off and has improved prospects for promotion. Strangely there are employees, and some managers too, who damage the company through carelessness, incompetence or deliberate obstruction. They are hurting themselves as much as their employer.
Contrast that situation with companies where everyone is customer centric, and frequently attract praise from customers they have been in contact with. There are typically no unresolved complaints on consumer forums, and every employee seems to know why customers should buy.
To build a company like them, some introspection may be a good idea. Do you really deliver goods and services that meet customer expectations, or have customers had to lower their expectations to your standards? Think of the grudge purchases you make, or the times you have been distressed but did not change supplier after a bad experience. You cannot expect your employees to be champions if your company supplies shoddy products, uses untrained technicians and seldom delivers on its promises. Fix the real problems and you will be pleasantly surprised by the change in your staff.
Once you are sure you have something to be proud of, start developing a true selling organisation by communicating with everybody and listening to what they think. You will often be appalled by the level of ignorance of the company’s products, values, selling points and competitive position. If this is the case the fault is most likely of your making; people are seldom ignorant by choice.
Then you need to root out the destroyers, those who offend prospective customers by carelessness, stupidity, laziness or arrogance and kill sales. Many would-be customers are driven away by employees in branded vehicles behaving dangerously or illegally in traffic, telephones ringing unanswered or reasonable complaints being arrogantly ignored by lazy or incompetent managers. Either convert the perpetrators or get rid of them. Discipline may not work, they could become more resentful and take out their anger on the company and its customers.
Now you will be in a great position to show your staff what great products and services you deliver, and why teamwork is so important. Educating them, talk to them, bring customers to explain why they bought from you or better still take groups of staff to customers and let them see your goods being used. It is easy to forget that even the staff who are in frequent contact with customers, the receptionists, the counter hands, the deliverymen and the cashiers see only their little island of your company’s activities. Those in the back rooms may have little idea of what value you deliver to customers. Show them and see their enthusiasm blossom as they become knowledgeable and enthusiastic champions. Do this at their pace and following their agenda, not yours. This last is seriously difficult to do, but you do not get champions because you think that is where they should be, but only because they really believe in the company and are eager to share that belief.
Finally you should empower them. Actively encourage feedback from them and customers, follow through on improvement suggestions, follow up sales leads even if you think they will go nowhere and publicise customer compliments. This may sound like a huge change to your organisation, a risky culture shift which will defocus everyone from the real job while the transition happens. This may be true. You will need to judge if the rewards of having everyone in your company actively trying to bring new customers and sell more to existing ones are worth it. I suspect the rewards may be huge.
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