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The Value of Sales Skills for Non-Sales People

Think of it as “farming.”

Your salesperson plants the sale and then moves on to a fresh field. It is then up to your non-sales staff to properly tend to the crop and harvest the bounty. Such an organizational methodology works because the non-sales front-line staff is trained to solidify and expand customer relationships.

The customer feels less risk when they trust not only a salesperson but also the entire organization. Brand loyalty and the perception of long-term value begin sooner and last longer.

In today’s competitive landscape every customer encounter ought to be used for more sales and long-term account development. Success-oriented organizations recognize the potential of each customer contact as a selling opportunity.

Yes, every customer interaction. This makes front-line employees vital for finding new sales opportunities and creating loyal customers. Traditional non-sales staff becomes essential for building profitable client relationships.

Use the “Customer Relationship Cycle” to examine the payback of training customer-facing employees with business development skills.

The Customer Relationship Cycle illustrates a prospective customer’s perception of trust and interest throughout the sales process.

The customer relationship usually begins with a salesperson “hunting” for the deal. In this phase, the customer is initially skeptical of the salesperson and the product or service being sold. I am. You are. We all are.

The salesperson eventually establishes trust by understanding the customer’s needs and demonstrating the value of the proposed solution. If all goes well, the customer chooses a vendor and the deal is closed.

This is the highest point of customer interest in the cycle. The customer is excited and hopeful.

After the deal is complete the salesperson usually moves on to the next opportunity. This leaves the customer relationship in the hands of account managers, customer service reps or installation people.

At this point, the customer may feel abandoned and the customer relationship plummets. The Customer Relationship Cycle is broken.

Increasingly, forward-thinking organizations train their non-sales staff to engage the customer at every point of contact in the relationship.

This, in turn, leads to customer loyalty and openness to additional value-added products and services. In short, account revenue is maximized.

The Customer Relationship Cycle has a simple and clear message: do what you can to avoid breaking it.

To maximize revenue, companies ought to invest in managing the relationship process at throughout the cycle.

Train employees outside of the direct sales force to participate in the sales process and you may be able to avoid customer disillusionment. You can reach a higher level of perceived value faster. Use your “silent sales force” as well as you use your nominal salespeople.

What types of companies should tap into their silent sales force? Those that use a primarily “hunter”-based sales force focused primarily on initial sales or companies that have on-going support projects and have employees embedded at customer sites.

The organizational roles best suited for maximizing sales skills are employees who provide customer service and support or manage client relationships or market to customers or install and service systems. That’s what “customer-facing” means.

What would it mean to your company’s bottom line if all of your customer-facing employees could find new business for your organization?

They could generate more repeat business and deeper customer loyalty. Cost centers can become profit centers. You can increase your sales force without adding sales headcount.

Any organization's non-sales staff can and should be able to generate sales leads and new business. It costs relatively little to make sure they get those skills today, to turn them into revenue-generating “farmers” for your enterprise.

Adam Halpern is a Managing Partner for Houston-based Soft Sell, which specializes in training front line employees to help turn every customer interaction into additional revenue.

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