Monday, December 23, 2013

Lesson #161: Create an "Everyone Sells" Culture

The common fault in the thinking of many entrepreneurs is that revenues will only be driven by the sales team, and the sales team alone.  They put a lot of energy into hiring the best salespeople they can afford, training them up on their product or service, and them letting them loose and hoping for the best.  The problem with that thinking is salespeople are only one part of the equation.

Oftentimes, an startup with 1-5 salespeople may have 10-50 employees, which means that your salesteam only represents around 10% of your entire staff.  Wouldn't it be better to come up with an "everyone sells" mentality within your company, to get 100% of your staff helping you with your sales and marketing efforts?  And, in the process, get 90% more people helping you drive revenues!!

I am not suggesting that the other 90% need to drop everything they are doing, and not focus on their core role.  What I am saying is: all 100% of your staff have friends, families, colleagues from former employers, school mates, and other connections that are often very accessible by the employee's social media followings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere.  So, help educate your entire staff on your products and services, and give them the tools and messaging they will need to help spread the word with their connections.

So, a good marketing plan for a startup is to tap into the best resources possible, especially free low-hanging fruit, like the personal relationships of your staff.  The fact a company message comes from a trusted friend, will increase the odds it will be seen or acted upon.  And, this not only means tapping into those friends alone, but their extended networks with socially viral "refer a friend" campaign efforts.  So, whether it is via social media, or personal phone calls, or whatever the medium, the key is to get all your staff thinking about sales opportunities for your business.  And, once a lead is identified, then the sourcing employee can hand it off to the salesteam to close and service from there, so it does not become a distraction to them in their normal job.

And, most startup employees are smart enough to know that the security of thier next paycheck arriving on time is directly correlated to the revenues of the business coming in.  So, in addition to the natural drive for a startup employee to want to help the team succeed, there are personal reasons in the form of income and job security, as well.  But, worth mentioning, this needs to be a proactive and fully-communicated plan right from the beginning of your organization.  You don't want this request to be interpretted as a time to panic, or get employees looking for the door.  So, keep it as positive/early as you can in your lifecycle, and not timed around bad news.

The last point here is to make sure you are celebrating your successes here, company-wide in your weekly meetings.  Call out key employees who helped to drive a new sale.  Or, financially reward them with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or store.  Or, create "employee of the month" programs with the framed picture of the staff member on the wall.  Or, create a 10%-revenue share for all sales sourced by employees, as an additional economic incentive for them.  All of this kind of stuff matters, both to the employee wanting to feel appreciated, and to the company who is trying to stimulate a certain behavior or sales culture within the company.

So, tap into the full 100% of your staff in helping your company with its sales and marketing efforts, in a way that does not distract them from their core role.  And, celebrate and reward them for their successes here.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

5 comments:

Kyle Taylor said...

We have specialization in the economy because people work at different levels of efficiency at different tasks. The average person can't grow their own sheep, collect their own wool, and then knit their own sweater at an efficient rate for instance, however, I think a selling mentality can be promoted in a positive way throughout a company.

I think everybody can be motivated to sell, but people do it in different ways. The average software developer isn't going to pick up the phone and cold call a potential customer and do a good job with that (nor should you spend money paying him for that) but a software developer can be motivated to make a good user experience a priority. Everything from a fast loading site to a site that removes a lot of clutter and focuses on the important bits can help improve conversion rates. There are things everybody in a company can do to help sell more.

Marketing people directly have many more options. Between the rise of social media (see how many companies are listed at BuyFacebookLikesReviews alone) and the continued importance of search and all of the other avenues that exist for promotion, there are ways that anything could be improved and expanded on.

Travis Johnson said...

Great article and I whole heartily agree. I run a small startup called foodjunky and we have a team of just 6. So it makes a big difference.

I have a friend that has started a company that has a digital solution to get your employees engaged with your companies social media message. It's called Social2Step.com.

Also note, in your post you say an increase of sales for from 5 to 50 is a 90% increase. It's actually a 900% increase!

Susan Burke said...

I would like to continue on with the ideas presented in this blog post and add that employees can be and ARE your most ardent social media ambassadors and should be empowered and rewarded for promoting their company over social media channels. Pew Research found that each of us has an average of 634 social connections! Companies should capitalize on that enormous word of mouth sales channel. Social2Step is a great platform (and a start-up) that is enabling this trend.

Susan Burke said...

I whole-heartedly agree with this post, to the point that I created a start-up (Social2Step)that empowers and rewards employees for being social brand advocates for their employers. Pew Research found that the average person has 634 social connections and companies should take advantage to the enormous word-of-mouth marketing potential those connections represent.

Zaida Enver said...

I agree, the selling mentality instilled within all employees of a start-up company goes a long way to ensuring its sustainability. Although not everyone is equipped with the skill and personality to sell, however keeping this top of mind will engineer and steer conversations both in a professional and social space. I have recently learnt to value the power of these conversations.