Want to know a secret? Sales is not a position within your company — it’s every position within your company. The person answering the phones and serving as the initial contact point for your customers and the techs out in the field doing the work are just as responsible for selling the company as your designated sales person is. The question is: have you empowered and equipped your entire team to effectively sell?
Many business owners send their designated sales person to training and invest in their selling skills, but they leave the rest of the team high and dry. Here’s why that’s a big mistake:
The sell coming from your techs and office staff feels more organic and authentic. I’m sure your designated sales person can talk all day long about how great your company is and why your customers would be stupid to choose anyone else for the job, but they have a disadvantage that your office staff and techs in the field don’t: it feels like a sale. The interaction your office saff and field staff have with customers feels more organic and authentic, and gives your customers a better idea of what your company is really all about and how they can expect to be treated when they work with you.
Your sales person is not the one who will leave a lasting impression. Most of the interactions and experiences your customers will have will be with the women and men doing the work, scheduling appointments, and answering any questions the customer has. These are the touch points your customers will remember and the touch points that will determine what kind of lasting impression they have of your business. Two bad experiences here and they’ve already forgotten about how friendly and convincing your sales person was.
Your office staff and techs have more opportunities to sell. Being in front of the customer more also means more opportunities to sell. After all, the employees most frequently interacting with your customers have a direct pipeline to your customers; they likely hear the customers’ wants, needs, and complaints first and have the opportunity to swoop in and meet those wants and needs and solve problems for your customers. But if your team is unsure of how to do that or feels insecure in their selling abilities, they won’t have the confidence to take advantage of each opportunity. Instead, opportunities to upsell, identify needs, and solve customer problems will likely be wasted.
Seeing the direct correlation between one’s efforts and company revenue can be a boost to morale. Here’s the thing, everyone in every company wants to feel important and see the fruit of labor. But when you completely disconnect your office staff and techs from the selling process, you minimize their importance, limit their power, and obscure the direct impact they have on company success and customer satisfaction. By making it clear that everyone on your team has an equal responsibility and role in the selling process, you’re emphasizing the importance of each individual to the success of the whole.
So how can you make sure everyone on your team is equipped and empowered to sell?
- Start by letting them know that it’s everyone’s responsibility and privilege to sell the company and to be that point person who conveys the mission, values, purpose, and culture of the company to the customer being served. If you don’t verbalize this, your employees may not think it’s their place to sell, because they’ll likely falsely think of sales as a position within the company.
- Next, provide your employees with scripts and practice scenarios, and ask them to identify a couple of missed opportunities in the last month or so. Give them examples and practice this often so they begin to see sales opportunities easily when on the job.
- Emphasize that selling is not just beneficial to the company, but to the customer. Many people are uncomfortable with selling because they associate it with being pushy or deceptive. Clear the discomfort your team has by assuring them you only want them to sell when they feel it provides value to the customer or meets a customer need, and by showing them how selling can directly benefit the customer. For example, if a team member goes to provide an estimate for a carpet install and, while the estimate is being performed, the employee notices that the customer’s dog is aging and there are a great deal of pet urine stains on the existing carpet, he or she could use this opportunity to educate the customer on a pet stain resistant carpet. Sure, it’s an upsell, but it’s something that will very clearly benefit the customer and her enjoyment of her home. There’s nothing greasy or deceptive about that!
Sales training and webinars are also worth thinking about. But no matter how you choose to empower your employees to sell, encourage them through any discomfort and insecurity as they learn new skills. Selling is not something that comes naturally to everyone, so be patient and supportive. It will be well worth it for you, your customers, and your employees!
It may be a given that, before performing technical skills, your employees need to be adequately trained and experienced so they can do the job right. But education and skills training isn’t only important from a technical point of view — you should also be investing in the growth and development of your employees in other areas — like leadership. Why?
Well, if you’ve hired anyone in the last 10 years, there’s a good chance you have Millennials on your team. And while everyone seems to think that Millennials are unique, surprise, surprise, studies are showing that Millennials want the same things you wanted when you entered the workforce: opportunity, growth, and purpose.
The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that “when salary or other financial benefits are removed from the equation, work/life balance and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles stand out” as most important for Millennials. Think this only relates to the male sex? Think again: When it comes to determining where to work and whether or not to stay with their employer, “Women are as equally likely as men to rate opportunities for career progression and leadership roles as a major factor; the genders are also aligned on the value of professional development support…”
So if leadership opportunities and development are so important to the newest generation of workers, why aren’t today’s leaders responding?
The majority of Millennials surveyed in the aforementioned survey feel that their “leadership skills are not being fully developed,” and of the Millennial workers looking to move on to a new job in the next two years, 71 percent stated that they are “unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.” So what’s up? Are we just not listening? Or are we assuming that this generation is unlike us and uninterested in leadership development and leadership roles? Either way, we’re really missing the boat.
Here’s the reality: If you want to truly stand out and excel as a leader today, you have to listen and you have to look for opportunities to delegate and invest in the growth of your employees. Give them opportunities to lead; invest in leadership training and development; find out where they’re interested in expanding their skills and knowledge; and ask them what aspects of your business interest them or where they’d like to improve personally and professionally.
Support them in those efforts. Invest in them. You don’t have to break the bank, but investing what money you can into classes, courses, or other training opportunities is an excellent way to show your employees that you’re invested in them and what they want to be. Choose a couple of employees to go with you to the next big trade convention. Some companies even gift employees with a reading and development stipend every month so they can continuously grow and learn.
Tight on funds? Start a work library and fill it with a few books here and there as you can afford it. Don’t just invest in books directly related to your work — ask employees for their reading wish list and get a few of those. Create an environment that encourages employees to read, learn, and better themselves and that lets them know they’re supported in their efforts. And what you’ll find is that your team performs better and is able to take on more tasks that you would otherwise have on your plate. A better, well-rounded, more fulfilled, more productive team and more time for you? It’s a win-win.
Are You Investing In & Supporting Your Team?
So before you think disloyal employees and problem employees are simply a generational thing, ask yourself whether or not you’ve investing in the development and growth of your team. A bored and unchallenged employee is sure to be underperforming, problematic, and disloyal — no matter what age he or she is. But an employee who feels invested in will have no problem investing in you, because they’ll know they’ve found a place where they’re free to grow, expand, and shift.
The Dreaded Off-Season: The time when everything slows down. It arrives every year, and you’ve come to expect it. You can’t stop it from coming any more than the Grinch could stop Christmas from coming to Whoville, right?
But what if you were prepared for it this year? What if you decided to take action and make the most of it? What if you stopped thinking of it as a slower season and started thinking of it as a different season?
Instead of throwing up your hands because the phones aren’t ringing and there’s nothing you can do about it, dive into some of the things you can do something about. You know all of those things you’ve been meaning to do, but never seem to have time for during the busy season? Now you’ve got the time – so get focused and get to work!
Here are 5 great things to spend the slow season on for a better business and a better year…
#1 Make SOPs & Delegate
As the business owner, there’s nothing you don’t have your hands in. You may have time now, but during the busy season, you’re swamped. Now’s the time to help your future self out. Think about the things you’d like to get off of your plate and create SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for these tasks.
SOPs will allow you to explain how to perform these tasks to your standards, once and for all, so you can pass these duties on to other members of your team. Once you’ve written these out, think about which team members you can delegate the tasks to. Since business is slower than usual, you’ll be able to spend more time going over the SOPs, answering any questions, and training your staff to take over some of these tasks.
#2 Train & Educate
On the topic of training, is there something your team could improve upon? Why not spend some time during the off-season investing in your team, training them, and helping them perfect their craft and add to their arsenal of skills? Even if you don’t have the resources to take your employees to an industry convention or bring an educator to your business, your team can still be learning.
Is one of your techs a master at upselling? Ask her if she’d be willing to spend some time sharing her methods, thought-processes, and techniques. Does one of your techs excel at a specific technical service? Let him share his expertise and train the rest of the team. Ultimately, you’ll have a better, more well-rounded team that delivers better services as a result.
#3 Solicit Customer Reviews
Now that you’ve got some time on your hands, why not contact customers you served in the last 6 months and ask them to write an online review for your business? Explaining how vital word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews are for your business will remind your customers just how important they are. It will also put you back at the forefront of their minds, and may even rack up some additional business for you. Cha-ching!
Psst. Tools like GatherUp can make getting reviews and feedback from customers simple and straightforward.
#4 Review Customer Feedback
Speaking of reviews, have you gone back through your negative reviews and customer feedback from last busy season? Were there any customer complaints or issues that kept popping up? Use this time to look at weak points in your service and company and think on how you can improve. This will help prevent some of that negative feedback from following you into the next season.
#5 Make Changes For Increased Productivity
Do you remember hearing your techs complain about warehouse setup and organization or flaws in procedures when getting ready for the day last busy season? Why not rethink things? Ask your techs how you can improve your space and procedures to make the start of the day easier and more productive – then make those changes. It may take some time (which you’ve got) and careful thought, but if it makes things run seamlessly, even on your busiest days, it’s well worth it.
Slow Season = Grow Season
Remember, what you do when business slows down is just as essential to your business’ success as what you do during the busy season. So don’t think of it as the “slow” season, think of it as the “grow” season – the time when you work on perfecting things so you can grow faster and be even better when those phones start ringing again.