“We all work for sales.” I was recently alerted to this business mantra. A friend of mine recounted how he would tell his staff: “you don’t work for accounting, for media relations or tech support, every one of us works for sales.” I believe this way of thinking is more than just a catchy phrase, it’s the recipe for success in today’s market.
In a sales landscape where you’re competing with businesses like Amazon, with huge customer service departments at their disposal, how will you stand out? One way is to make sure every member of your team is approaching their work like they are the person responsible for delivering an exceptional customer (pre and post) “sales” experience.
A Tale of Two Customer Experiences
I want to begin by contrasting a couple of personal experiences I’ve had as a customer recently as a way to showcase how employee interaction can play a huge role in how a company is perceived. The first experience centers around my desire to upgrade my existing tablet to a newer version. I wanted to see what the differences were, and whether it was worth the cost of upgrading.
So, I embarked to the nearest mall to the brand’s store and waited in line. After standing around for 15 minutes, I approached the front and mentioned I was interested in a new tablet. I am asked several questions about which specific tablet I am interested in buying. After answering, I’m asked if I have an appointment, and am told that I would need an appointment to speak with anyone, or to purchase the tablet.
This seemed very odd, especially since I noticed many employees unincumbered with other customers, who likely could have answered some questions. Instead, I was turned away and told I could order the device online, which doesn’t help with the questions that remained about the new model. They lost an opportunity to make a sale, and help a loyal customer, all because I didn’t have an appointment.
Regardless, I left the store and jumped on my phone to schedule an appointment at the next closest store – about 30 minutes away. At the second store, I went through a similar experience waiting in line for 15 minutes and answering the same series of questions again.
After 20 minutes of waiting in the store, I approached an employee and asked if they were familiar with the features of the newest tablet. The worker replied that they were “not really familiar with it.” I pointed to another group of employees chatting with each other and asked if they could answer my questions, “No, they’re in the technical department.” “What about that person?” “No, that’s a manager.” “What about this person?” “No, that’s another manager.”
After this exchange, I was asked (again) by this employee about my appointment status and contact info. Once verified that I had an appointment, I was told to “go stand over by the tablets and wait for someone to find you”. I did as instructed and was eventually approached by an employee to discuss the tablets, only to find out that they had none in stock and it would be best for me to order it online, rather than place an order in the store.
Contrast that experience with the following: A week or so later, I wanted to exchange some pants for a different size. Upon arrival at the store, I was greeted by two employees who greet me and ask if I need some help. I state my predicament with the pants and ask if they have any options available for me to exchange them for a different size. The employees are more than happy to assist me. In fact, as one employee is processing the refund, the other is searching online for the size (since they did not have my size available in the store). They refund the original purchase price of the pants to me, add a clearance tag to the pants and place them on a sale rack, then ordered the new pants to be sent directly to my home address with free shipping.
I was blown away. There was zero reluctance or impression that this was a nuisance for them, just exceptional customer service. Every part of the interaction was designed to be helpful, courteous, and most important for them, retain and delight a customer. The system was set up to work together to make a quality sale.
Getting Your Team in the Right Mindset
So how can you apply this to your business? Well, the most common mistake I see businesses make in this regard is that they completely segregate their departments. Of course, a business has its sales and customer service departments, and those are its customer-facing departments. The rest of the company can often feel like they’re in their own little worlds. From the engineers and tech support to finance and human relations, it can feel like they are simply departments unto themselves.
This can be an incredibly damaging mindset to fall into. In the worst-case scenarios, some departments can assume an attitude where the customer is seen as a nuisance – this dynamic is often referred to as the “Sales Prevention Department”.
Ultimately, sales drive the bus. That isn’t to say the sales team drives the bus but rather actual sales transactions and customers. Much of this plays out in the everyday interactions of the customer-facing parts of the company. But what people often don’t realize is that the companies that succeed are the ones that bring all their departments together under the one goal of selling their product and delighting their customers who do business with them! If every member of every team in your company is focused on how their actions can bring in more sales, imagine the difference that could mean for your business’ income, stability, and future success.
If this all still sounds a little theoretical, let me bring it down to a practical level. Take my experience at the tablet store. I came in there prepared to buy and because their workers were so segregated into their specific rolls, I was forced to set aside several hours of my day just to get a few product questions answered.
Instead, if the store had everyone who worked there including the manager and technical teams “working for sales”, they would have been prepared to give me the low-down on their hottest new products. They lost business that day because the whole store wasn’t operating as a cohesive sales force.
You can implement this frame of mind in your business, whether you operate a brick-and-mortar retail shop, integration company, restaurant, or a kangaroo zoo! Having your whole company operating as if they work for sales, provides them with a common goal, and a great goal at that. Sales are what gives your company life; don’t let that goal be forgotten or left behind in a disjointed bureaucracy. Get your team working together and make some big money!
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