It's impossible to build a successful small business without making sales. But that doesn't mean there is only one way to manage a sales force. Here are five reasons why you might want to consider making your salespeople your brand ambassadors instead.
1. It's not just about the sales.
In the end, it actually is all about sales. But that's your perspective as the business owner. The customer is looking for something else.
"We go beyond sales and make the position all about engaging with people on all levels, from customers to media, and it's a lot of fun," says Taylor Aldredge, Ambassador of Buzz for Grasshopper, a virtual phone system provider.
Ambassadors wear many hats in addition to sales. They handle customer education, marketing and support. They engage customers on social media platforms. They are the face of the brand.
Having ambassadors is one way to ensure that customers get a response in a timely manner, according to Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva, a company that fulfills once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation requests.
"With so much opportunities for feedback on brands and customers it's important to have brand ambassadors monitoring social networks and talking about all aspects of your business," Tuchman says. "It's different than it was seven or eight years ago and a brand can be tarnished very easily by not responding quickly."
2. They really get to know the customer.
In a traditional business model, a customer is likely to have different points of contact for the different stages of the journey or customer lifecycle.
There may be one person to answer questions, another person to take the order and another to handle inquiries after the sale.
In a brand ambassador model, customers have one point person to guide them through the process. From the first signs of interest through closing the sale, a customer need only reach out to the ambassador.
It's a personal touch that strengthens customer relationships.
"We like to have the person you're dealing with for most of our events be on-site to talk about the brand," Tuchman says. "At the end of the day, it's our service with Goviva that's important."
3. They know it all.
Hiring an ambassador can make a lot of sense for a small business.
An ambassador is one employee who is able to handle the jobs traditionally done by the salesperson, the marketing person and the customer support person.
For a start-up, that can make growing the team a more manageable process. Start with one ambassador instead of filling three positions and grow the number of ambassadors as the company grows.
Tuchman said it is important, though, to find the right person to fulfill the ambassador role.
"They have to be really good at what they do and handle all those different roles," Tuchman said. "It's about overseeing the entire brand."
4. You'll get better follow-through.
An ambassador's job isn't really done just because the deal is closed. The ambassador is there for building a foundation to the next sale and keeping the company's reputation solid.
The ambassador, in the marketing role, is also looking for ways to promote the last customer success.
"If a customer has a great story to tell I'm going to go out of my way to make sure other customers and media outlets know their story as well, " says Aldredge, the ambassador with Grasshopper.
5. You'll be an innovator.
Successful entrepreneurs take risks and react to the current business climate. Replacing a traditional sales force with ambassadors may be just the thing that sets you apart from the competition and increases your bottom line.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.