As you walk into a retail store, you will be greeted by ‘Welcome to X Store!’ The staff are selling you their experience. If you want a raise, what should you highlight to your boss? You need to sell your capabilities. If you are an accountant and you want timely sales reports, then you have to get your team to sell vis-a-vis an early submission of their report. Supposedly your spouse wants to cook Italian when you prefer Indian, you would have to sell your choice. In short — everyone sells!
It does not matter what job function you are in — we simply cannot avoid selling. Unless, of course, you are the only person on earth and nobody else is around you.
In the business context, right and effective selling skills are of utmost importance. If you run a business and you are unable to convince people to buy your goods to the point of meeting a handsome profit margin, your business will fold in no time. It is as simple as that.
In small companies, generally, most staff are aware of their sales role. But in larger ones, the tendency is to leave the job to the sales department. Big mistake! My take is that everyone who interacts with customers or prospects should and must sell. This is especially so during tough times; everyone needs to come together and sell.
I was in a hotel for training. I left the computer running and Internet on while I went out for dinner. When I came back, the Internet got disconnected and I couldn’t access my e-mails. So I called the lobby and was soon directed to the hotel’s tech support guy. After getting in touch with me, he coached me on what to do to get the configuration right. When I posed a question on the slow Internet speed, he told me a ‘remarkable’ story. Here goes the story.
`Well, our management is on a cost-cutting spree … they are mainly a group of penny-pinching dudes who don’t understand the importance of upgrading. That’s why the Internet is slow.’
Wow, what a fantastic selling pitch! Instead of painting a positive picture of the hotel’s management, what the tech guy did was sell an idea that I wasn’t going to get fast Internet speed for a long time in his hotel. Hence, is it not wise to keep an eye on what non-sales staff are selling to your customers? In a hotel environment, it is vital to keep frontline staff and those who come face-to-face with guests (bell boys, chamber maids, receptionists, etc) exposed to fine selling skills (greeting guests, direction, hotel’s specialty, etc).
There are a few things to consider when training your non-sales people to sell. Make sure they understand that everyone sells. It does not matter if they are the delivery boy or vice-president of operations. Focus on these three areas if you are serious in giving them proper training:
Firstly, introduce them to your company, products and services — In classic sales, we call this the elevator pitch. It is basically a short presentation on what makes you special. In Sales Ninja, we call this Positioning. Everyone in your company needs to have a standardized introduction so that every staff will speak the same language when interacting with someone outside your company or industry (this is especially so if you belong to a small company).
Imagine everyone knowing Nokia but not many knowing Nanotech Solutions, for example. And just because you have been around for the last 10 years doesn’t mean everybody knows you. For a start, train your staff to promote your business.
Next, train them to look for opportunities to sell. Selling is helping. So when they hear there is a gap, problem or situation that the associates are having, they need to jump in and sell. While the more advanced sellers are able to create needs or opportunities, a fundamental need for novice sellers (such as your non-sales staff) is switching on their radar to detect a sales opening.
It is paramount that non-sales staff must understand that business survival is crucial to provide a consistent income stream to all employees. Non-sales people in an advertising industry can definitely leave their ears open to new product launches in the market, or the execution of new marketing strategies among big firms. Likewise, non-sales people in the property development sector can introduce new project launches to their relatives or friends.
Thirdly, train non-sales people to tackle objections. In non? sales terminology, this means to correct feedback, wrong perceptions or concerns from potential customers.
Say you are the administration executive for an automobile company that sells China brand cars.
One day you are having tea with some friends and one joker decides to crack jokes on China-made cars. While it is merely a joke, it may hurt the reputation of your company in the long haul. Regardless of the fact that you are merely an administration executive, you need to quickly step in and ‘correct the facts’ before it tarnishes the image of your employer.
To more sales … with less effort!