A WORD FROM DUANE SPARKS
Dear Sales Executive:
What happens in your company after a sale is made? How well does the rest of the organization align around the goal of strengthening the customer relationship and creating customer loyalty for the long haul?
If thinking about those questions sends a little chill up your spine, there is a name for the thing that worries you. It’s called a sales-culture gap. Closing that gap may be the most vital task facing you today. How do you go about it? Let’s talk.
If you have a question about how to align your entire company around a powerful sales culture, click on “Ask The eCoach“.
We are committed to your professional success.
Author of Action Selling
CLOSE YOUR CULTURE GAP! ALIGN SALES AND SERVICE
Congratulations! Your sales force just made a sale. You’ve gained a new customer. Now, what happens when that customer begins to interact with the rest of your organization? What happens when the customer comes into contact with functions like technical support or customer service? Are they all on the same page with your salespeople? Do they even speak the same language?
A lot of your company’s employees come into contact with your customers. Some deal with your customers a lot more often than your salespeople do. I refer to those employees, collectively, as Customer Relationship Professionals, or CRPs—not because that’s what most of them are but because it’s what all of them ought to be. So, let me ask my earlier question a bit differently:
How well do your CRPs align with your sales force around the goal of strengthening customer relationships, identifying additional opportunities and generating customers who are stuck like glue to your company?
In the last edition of eCoach, I explained the idea of the sales-culture gap that afflicts most companies, why that gap is widening today, and why it is increasingly critical to close it.
In a nutshell, to avoid falling into the commodity trap, both your sales team and your service teams must know how to add a level of value that the internet cannot. To bind customers to you, your sales and service teams must be able to differentiate your products/services, company and people in the mind of the customer. If you want truly loyal customers, you must add value on all fronts.
You’ll need to train your teams to do this—and to do it consistently. In other words, sales training is no longer enough; you must train your Customer Relationship Professionals, too. Everyone who interacts with your customers—all of your CRPs—must speak the same language. They all must know what “adding value” means in your company, and how to do it.
EVERYONE MUST KNOW WHAT “ADDING VALUE” MEANS AND HOW TO DO IT.
Am I proposing that you should deliver great sales training not just to your sales force but also to all of your CRPs? Not quite. Here are a few problems with the notion of extending “sales training” to everybody:
- Most CRPs do not want to be salespeople. They don’t view their jobs as stepping stones into a sales career. Some are recognized professionals in their own right—think of nurses or accountants or engineers. They would much rather “take care of the customer” than sell a product or service. If we put CRPs through a sales training program, we may be trying to make them into something they don’t want to be.
- Most sales training courses require time away from the field. At least a portion of the training is in a workshop environment. Workshops can be two or three days in length. In high-volume, high-demand situations, companies just can’t shut down their CRP teams long enough to attend a workshop.
- Nearly 100% of training programs intended for CRP types lack adequate reinforcement and/or measurement. Without both of these ingredients, the motivation and ability to excel at applying the learning is minimal. The training is quickly forgotten and becomes a waste of time and money.
Some of the nation’s best-run companies have discovered that there is an answer to the dilemma. Its fits the self-perception of CRPs, it accommodates the high-demand nature of their work, and it has the measurement and reinforcement needed to make training a fabulous investment. It is a program called Action Selling CRP. One company’s experience with it is described below.
Before I introduce that company, however, one final note: Why would the training I’m talking about be such a “fabulous investment”? What is the bottom-line benefit of aligning sales with service, and giving everyone in the company a common language to speak? I hinted at it earlier. It’s simply this: An aligned sales culture is the best way for a company to earn and keep genuinely loyal customers.
There is more to “genuine loyalty” than most companies know. In the next edition of eCoach, I’ll show you how improving customer loyalty can generate 25-35% more profit.
Download a free copy of my new white paper that describes this critical alignment issue in more detail. Want a Great Sales Culture? Fill This Gap.
Action Selling in Action
Not all Customer Relationship Professionals work in functions with names like “customer service,” and not all aspire to be salespeople. Bergen KDV is a leading regional accounting and consulting firm in the Upper Midwest. When Bergen set out to close the gap in its sales culture, the CRPs it needed to train included a lot of people with titles such as Certified Public Accountant.
Here is how Bergen partner Lee Roberts describes his company’s experience with Action Selling CRP:
“Most of our staff is CPAs. They didn’t educate themselves with the intention of becoming salespeople. So, there is a lot of resistance to sales training. But, because Action Selling CRP is positioned around developing communication skills that improve customer loyalty, buy-in was easy to accomplish. Every person identified with the training scenarios and materials. I expected push-back, but that didn’t happen.”
We expected the training to improve our client satisfaction and add revenue opportunities for Bergen KDV. To our great surprise, we got much more than we expected. Within days following the initial launch of the CRP program, the office was alive with comments about how we were communicating on a better level, not just with clients, but with each other. Our internal sales and service teams actually have found a way to work better together!
“Effective training requires a lot of highly effective pieces and parts. The CRP program came complete with every tool we needed to prepare staff to be trained, conduct the training, reinforce the new behaviors, and measure the learning that was acquired.”
“Since the cost to acquire revenue from new customers is 5-7 times more than the cost of gaining revenue from current customers, the program’s ultimate objective—to build customer loyalty—fit perfectly with our philosophy. Most of our clients buy only one service from us. So, the potential to add services to current clients is extremely high.”
For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling CRP at (800) 232-3485.
Get a free copy of my new white paper on the critical issue of aligning your sales and support teams. Want a Great Sales Culture? Fill This Gap.