Does Your Sales Team Live the Company Brand?
by Rob Wolfe – Connected Places Global
“There’s only one asset your sales force can leverage that no competitor can…and that’s your company’s brand.”
The fundamentals that underpin ALL successful brands are understanding who your target customer is, what you tell that target customer in order to make them purchase from you, in what manner that message is communicated, and when to present the message for best effect. (Thanks to Australian marketing strategy firm BrandQuest for stating it so well.)
Your sales force is your current and potential customers’ most direct and common contact with your brand, as explained in a recent article from Manage Smarter, Successfully Integrating Sales and Branding (http://bit.ly/91e1In ). Your salespeople are shaping your brand in every interaction they have with current and potential customers, every day. You should consider what your company—not your product or service—does differently that the customer wants to pay for. This compelling brand story should be woven into the context of each unique sales conversation.
“One of the key elements missing in many organizations is the ‘Brand Benefit’; that final sales tool that can close the sale in what was a feature vs. feature race against an otherwise equal competitor,” says Bill Eastwood, Sales, Marketing & Business Development Manager in Boston. “It’s that undeniable benefit the customer will realize by doing business with your value driven company, even though your competition’s product would also fill the customer’s needs. And if this ‘Brand Benefit’ is a tentacle of an actively updated (with front-line sales input) and trained/coached mission or value statement, all kinds of good revenue things often happen, widening the gap with the competition.”
Integrating the company brand with sales is a matter of training, according to Denis Rojas, General Manager and Associate at PriX in Brazil, who believes that most of the time the sales team is not trained enough about the brand or engaged with the direction of the company. “I have worked with a sales team that every day, from 7:30 to 8:00, discussed the day before, what went wrong, the best practices, etc. This was quite interesting. In less then 2 months, sales increased about 25% with 10% more profitability.”
The Manage Smarter article offers this basic process for working with your sales force and more fully integrating the brand into your sales activities:
- Explore the challenges. For this process to work, the sales force must be part of it from the beginning and throughout. Sit down with the team and talk about typical sales conversations with customers, common hot-button issues that arise, and ways they may or may not be using any existing marketing materials and messages. Consider the key sales objectives and troubleshoot barriers to the sale.
- Apply the new knowledge. Analyze the insights you gained from the initial meetings. Next, apply the strongest points of your brand to create key messages, online sales tools, and more that hit target audiences’ hot buttons, in addition to helping sales overcome specific challenges they’re likely to encounter.
- Test the new messages. Review new brand-based and situation-specific messages with the sales force and practice using these approaches in common sales scenarios. Keep your sessions down to earth and action-oriented, so they’re strictly information the sales force can use. Encourage them to be honest in their assessments of the messages. Then get them started testing the messages in real situations.
- Review and improve. What’s working and what isn’t? Maintain a dialog with the sales force and seek their feedback, both to refine the new messages and address their evolving issues.
Of course, the idea of living the brand extends beyond the sales force. As a recent article from Pink Magazine, Brand-Aids for Brand Managers, (http://bit.ly/4Zqo9e) points out, your whole company is your marketing department. Advertising, sales and brand managers need to enlist and insist that their colleagues across the organization understand and care as much about the brand as they do. Marketers need to reinforce their efforts at every level of the organization to build armies of zealots. Marketing may be your message, but your company is the messenger.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to my fellow members of professional networking groups, as well as fellow bloggers and published authors, for your insights and contributions, which are expressed and reflected in the content of this feature.