You have a sales team who goes out in the world cold calling, following up leads and closing deals (hopefully).
You have a marketing department who makes nice brochures for prospective clients, updates your website and strategises new ways to bring in more sales.
You have an operations or production team who carries out the work that the sales people told the client you could do.
But what’s missing?
A vital piece of today’s sales and marketing puzzle is an often unleveraged, overlooked resource staring you right in the face every day – your entire workforce.
Unless you’re running a company of robots, some, if not all of your employees will show some passion for the work they do in your organisation.
You will be able to spot your ‘employee evangelists’ easily – they live and breathe their work, tell their family and friends how good your company is to work for, how great the product is and why they simply cannot live without it. And they’re not faking it. They are able to talk about your product, inside out, the best way to use it, who should be buying it, what to do with it etc etc. But they are not your sales team. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Your sales team will be able to sell ice to Eskimos but they might not be able to rave about your product in the same natural way as some of your other staff members (the salespeople are much better at closing the deal and ensuring the contract is in place which is also vital).
How valuable is this kind of sales and marketing technique?
Extremely. People buy from those they know, like and trust. The best sales people know that it can often take several meetings, conversations, more meetings and emails to reach a satisfactory conclusion. But if your buyer caught up with a friend that weekend who raved about your product, the process would be quicker and the sale made.
So how can you turn your workforce into your salesforce?
Here’s the tricky part – you can’t ‘make’ them do anything. Otherwise the magic is lost. But what you can do is to enable them to take part in events, online forums, social media platforms etc. Not with the aim to sell or advertise your product but simply to offer solutions. Solve your client’s pain and a sale is likely to follow.
The team here at Blue Ocean Systems often meets with people in a non-work environment who are venting their frustrations.
“We lost a major deal today because we couldn’t forecast our sales figures. But I’ve worked there for 10 years and know we could have delivered for that client.”
“I wish I could concentrate on more important tasks than updating numerous spreadsheets which no one even looks at.”
“I took this IT job because I wanted to make a real difference for the organisation, but all I spend my time doing is backing up data and retrieving lost files because the system is ancient.”[Contact us if this sounds like you!]
Our response is definitely not “SAP can solve your problems” but this type of opportunity allows us to understand our prospective clients a bit better.
How can your company make the most of your enthusiastic employees?
Meet with them to find out more about whether they are talking about your product. Encourage them to do so if they want to (they might think they are not allowed).
Find out which platforms they are engaging on. Is it face-to-face, social media (Facebook, LinkedIn groups, Twitter etc), or online industry forums?
Set some clear boundaries about what you feel is appropriate for them to talk about and do (i.e. no blatant advertising). But don’t take the fun out of this for them!
Ask them to feedback to you informally what they know people are asking for / complaining about / raving about. This can be great market research.
If you feel this is valuable, allow your employees some time during their working day to chat to people in an online forum.
Of course, you need to tailor these suggestions to your business requirements, and it might not be applicable or possible for all organisations to do this.
Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.