Are your salespeople the only employees at your company besides you who think about selling every day? If so, your business could be at a big disadvantage.
Every member of your team can help you improve your revenues if you set the right tone, says Alan Siege, founder of Small Business Management Consulting in Brooklyn, New York. “Every employee or independent contractor has to appreciate the fact that they represent the brand,” he says. “The more polite, efficient and effective they are, the more likely the business will attract and keep customers.”
How do you turn every employee – from your receptionist to your office cleaner – into a rainmaker? Try these strategies.
Know when to disconnect from technology
If you run a service business and have been short staffed, it may seem convenient to let calls go to voice mail during busy periods. Big mistake. Make sure that customers can reach a live person on the phone during the hours you are open, so they don’t get frustrated and give up on doing business with you. “You have to be really careful about where you utilize technology,” says Siege, who is an instructor in the Kauffman FastTrac program, an educational program for entrepreneurs. An employee who listens well to customers and makes an effort to accommodate them can work wonders in helping you build a loyal client base, he says.
Explain the selling process
“In every business, everyone to some degree can be a rainmaker if they understand how leads are produced,” says Siege. If, for instance, you get most of your new clients from word-of-mouth referrals, share that with your employees. You’ll want every member of your team to focus on delivering a level of service that makes customers want to tell their friends to use your business.
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Appeal to employees’ self interest
Sometimes, staffers may not recognize that if, say, they take a personal call on their mobile phone while a hurried customer is waiting for help, they may drive that patron elsewhere. To make sure all employees understand their role in selling your product or service, share with them how the business is doing and explain how their efforts fit into the big picture. Tell them, “The better we do, the more secure your job is,” Siege advises.
Reward innovation and problem solving
Front-line workers who deal directly with customers can be a good source of ideas on new products and services. But you may have to prompt them to share their ideas. Hold contests to encourage your team to come up with more ways to sell – and award an appealing prize to the winner.
What if you’ve made hiring mistakes and some members of your team don’t seem motivated to keep customers happy? Maybe they’re even rude. While you may be able to correct such problems with proper training, you may not reach everyone. “It’s a little hard to motivate people who don’t inherently care about something,” says Siege. Let employees know that anyone who doesn’t treat customers well over a period of time will be out of a job, he says. It may seem drastic, but no business can afford to drive away existing customers. You’re better off looking for new employees who really do care about helping you grow.