Here’s a fact: Every new client you win at your business happens thanks to the contribution of every single person who works there. However, I bet if you asked your employees which of them are in sales, only the sales team would answer affirmatively.
According to Forrester Research, fewer than 50% of marketers think they’re responsible for increasing top-line sales growth or profitability.
So if your sales and growth seem to have hit a wall, this is probably a good reason why. You need to nurture a company-wide sales culture where everyone understands that they’re in sales, regardless of their actual title.
It doesn’t mean all of your employees have to be out banging on doors every day, but every member of your team—from the receptionist to the CEO— contributes something special that moves a potential client a little closer to that magic word: “Yes”.
Creating a sales culture where everyone in the company thinks about how they play a part in your sales funnel delivers benefits other than just direct financial ones:
Builds a sense of teamwork - A we’re-all-in-this-together attitude will help your employees feel more engaged with your company overall, and more appreciative of each other’s role. If business is down there can be no finger pointing; everyone needs to work harder. And when a win comes in, you all celebrate together.
New solutions - By involving all of your employees in thinking about where to find new sales opportunities, new ways to pitch a lead, or new approaches to retaining clients, you may discover creative and diverse ideas. What’s the saying, “Twenty-two heads are better than one?”
Brand building - With more of your people talking about your company—what you do, how you do it, whom you do it for—in their own social and professional networks, you’re extending your reach. What better brand ambassadors than your own employees?
Here’s how to build a sales culture across your organization that will have your bottom line begging for more:
Inventory everyone’s skill sets
Maybe someone on your design team is a whiz at presenting creative ideas that could win over a potential client, or your account manager is confident he can turn his knowledge of PPC into a new service offering, or your developer used to build mobile apps for big brands.
I once worked for a small marketing agency as an account manager for about a year, filling in for someone’s maternity leave. I was hired directly by the agency owner, but somehow he forgot or missed that in my previous agency job, I had done copywriting for some major brands.
A big pitch to a new client was coming up and copywriting was needed. The agency owner asked me to source some outside contractors we could use as they didn’t have someone in-house at the time (or so they thought!). He was fretting about whether or not we would be able to service this client and what the costs would be.
I hesitantly reminded him that I had copywriting experience—I wasn’t sure if he didn’t remember, or if he didn’t want me to get involved. It turns out the former was true, and once I brought up that I could handle the project and it would mean we could keep all the work in-house, his confidence in the potential success of the pitch rose. He also started talking about other opportunities we could go after now that he knew I could write.
As a leader in your business, you should be familiar with the skill sets of all your employees. This is really important when creating a sales culture; you need to know where opportunities lie within your own resources for upselling and cross-selling.
Everybody is a somebody to sales
People who don’t consider themselves directly in “sales” often need help seeing the connection between their role and closing more deals.
The way the receptionist greets a new client, how finance deals with invoices, the design of the pitch deck, the attitude of account service, the strategy presented, and the quality of your portfolio; all of these touch points add up and contribute to whether your sales lead decides to say yes or no to your company over the competition.
Make sure everyone understands that what they do is important to the ongoing growth and success of your agency and how that in turn translates into sales.
Understand the mission (and choose to accept it)
To activate your sales culture and maximize its potential you need to ensure that everyone in your company knows what you’re trying to accomplish.
They need to know:
The services/solutions you offer
Your ideal client fit
Your ideal project type
Your company’s value proposition over your competition
Who the competition is and what they offer
Lines of accountability
The goals and objectives of the company
How to communicate these points to clients
You’d be surprised how everyone in your office might have a different view on these points, so it’s essential that you’re all singing from the same song book if you want to cultivate quality leads and not waste time.
Recognize an opportunity
While you don’t need to make everyone in your office read Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale, teaching them how to recognize an opportunity can go a long way in boosting lead generation.
Whether it’s a conversation at your kid’s hockey practice with a parent whose law firm needs a new website, or the perfect opening with an existing client to cross-sell them on another service you offer, everyone should be able to spot the ideal time to mention your company and what you do.
That team member isn’t necessarily the one to close that deal, but learning how and when to say, “Our company has a lot of experience with that. Can I get someone from the office to follow up with you?” or whatever your process is, could reap warm new leads.
Let everyone in on a lead
Sharing your list of leads and what’s happening in your sales funnel with everyone in the office could open up doors you didn’t know existed.
Maybe your developer has a cousin at a prospective business who can influence a meeting, or your finance manager used to work in the same industry as that pitch you have coming up, or your digital strategist used to create online campaigns for your sales lead’s competition.
Make a list of all the clients and industries your employees have worked with in the past. You may know what they’ve worked on while they’ve been under your roof, but find out who else they worked with previously in their careers.
Keeping your people in the loop could uncover that tipping point that moves a deal one step closer to a close.
Pitches are as important as projects
And vice versa.
It’s not just your sales reps who are responsible for pitches or proposals; you need them to be well-designed, well-written, and with a kick-ass strategy. This requires the input of multiple people on your team.
Chances are these folks are super busy with client work already in the pipeline,but they need to understand it’s as much their job to perfect a proposal as it is to knock a project out of the park.
At the same time, the promise of the new and sparkly potential-client shouldn’t override the importance of finishing quality, on-time, great work for existing clients. Making existing clients happy is part of sales.
Don’t forget that the average close rate for selling to existing clients is 60-70% compared to only 5-20% for new clients.
Kill the status quo
If you’re going to bring new people into your sales process, you need to be open to their ideas and their questions.
Fight the attitude of “We’ve always done it this way” because you’ll kill their enthusiasm and miss out on the potential for innovative new ways at looking at the same problem: how to close more deals.
Try new stuff, see if it works, adjust as necessary. Keep the dialogue open-minded, respectful, and results-focused.
Respect the sales team
Your existing sales team might feel a bit defensive or protective of their “turf” when it first comes to empowering a company-wide sales culture. They may feel this is a reflection on their ability to do their job, or that they’re going to lose out on commissions.
Position this shift as a way to make their job easier. They’re still going to cultivate leads and move them through the sales funnel, but with extra help they’ll be able to close more deals.
If done right, this culture shift will eliminate any ‘us vs them’ attitude that can sometimes exist between the sales team and the rest of the company.
Isolating your sales team and their activities from the rest of your business will only isolate your opportunities for growth.
By nurturing an inclusive company-wide sales culture, your opportunities will expand into the social and professional connections of your staff, and benefit from their creativity, skills, and experience to close more deals.