7 reasons why the sale is a part of an ecosystem
March 9 2020
Do you treat sales and the selling process as a sole source of revenue in your company? If so, after this article you can change your mind. In practice, the selling process should be one of the elements in a whole chain of processes, activities, and events that lead to customer acquisition and retention. The final element and not necessarily the most important one.
Sales is often a long-term process. It’s often true for B2B (business-to-business) but not exclusive to it. In the case of B2C (business-to-customer), when more expensive products come into play (like a car, an apartment or even more expensive vacation trip), the process sales can be longer. A long-term selling process is ok, but for it to end with success, you need to make it bulletproof. You need to create a whole ecosystem supporting the sales specialist in closing the deal.
In a modern, effective selling ecosystem, the sales specialist himself should be the last link. New Business Manager should be surrounded by an entire ecosystem supporting the company’s financial results. It’s worth putting a few other employees on the client’s path and stimulate their behavior so that the client will bump on them. Thanks to that approach, the field will be clear for the sales specialist to enter. It doesn’t mean that the New Business Manager can now dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Plus, it’s nowhere to be said that his actions won’t balk the work of everyone put earlier on the client’s path. It also doesn’t mean that the sales specialist can justificate the loss of the potential sale by saying that the previous stage failed.
Sales depend on the sales team. Persons responsible for marketing, public relations, recruitment, and employer branding should aid them. If you’ll ask if this is not an overkill, I’ll tell you that this is the natural evolution of thinking about organizations.
Who and in what way should support the New Business Manager?
1. Everything starts with recruitment. Contrary to a popular belief, good, aware, creative, and dedicated employees are needed not only for the development of quality products and services. Sooner or later a client can figure out what are the working conditions in a given company. Based on that, he can decide to part with, let’s say, a subcontractor. In the age of the internet, massive public gatherings, information exchange between fans of the brands but also between employees, it’s the factor that can’t be stressed enough. It’s worth remembering that created shared value (CSV) is not a fantasy but already an important part of day-to-day business operations. In every given sector. If you’re not feeling it already, if you don’t appreciate the change that is building up in your employees and clients, you will appreciate it tomorrow. And then it may be too late.
Through hiring qualified employees you show customers that your company can deliver a product. In quality demanded by the market, in the right amount, before the deadline. A good way to build relations between the client and the company, showing him the process of making a product and building trust towards the last link, which is a sales specialist, is the creation of the ‘employee success stories’ section on your website. It’s the section where your company can show how employees are doing and getting along. In what way they achieve professional goals, how they develop, how they are promoted. Here you can prove that employees are a vital part of interesting projects and they feel fine at their workplace.
The keyword here is ‘to prove’. If the marketing creates a professional narrative about the company, and the reality misses the mark; it doesn’t follow up to declarations, clients, business partners, and potential employees might be convinced to overlook such a company. I’m not a stranger to situations where marketing created excellent stories and then a company in question had to look for the outside contractors to do the job. Why? Employees that should work on the product, were no longer with this company. They had left due to bad treatment, unstable and often changed strategy, even because the board was lacking crucial domain competencies.
Another important element of supporting New Business Manager is an employee branding. That means turning employees into brand ambassadors. If the climate is good and the company itself has a real-working mechanism of listening to employees, paying attention and drawing conclusions, you shouldn’t have difficulties with gathering an army of ambassadors. People are eager to help and are willing to be involved in the company’s life when they see real benefits (in this case: working on a recently acquired project). Employer branding equals higher company’s visibility. Employees can, for example, place banners with crucial information about the company, on their social media. This way they will shout that they are part of your company but more importantly, that they identify with it. Even if they are not executives. Everyday practice shows, that in larger companies there is a highly limited amount of people that want to support a company this way but in smaller organizations, this practice is not something out of this world. More importantly – it works.
2. The second important element of supporting sales is content marketing. From my experience, I know that content that can be put in front of the client to read always works better than a hard push from the New Business Manager. The client has more time to get familiar with the content and think it through. Pushing content to a client can be done in a settled way (by putting a link to an article in an email footer) or more directly – by sending the link to the client, along with the notes from the conversation. If the client faces the challenge or has doubts after the last call, a sales specialist can easily put his or her mind to ease. Even if the material on the company’s blog or an ebook has been published a year, two or five years ago but it’s still relevant, it’s worth to promote it. Good, timeless content will not age.
That’s how we enter my domain and what I believe in as a branding, marketing, and content specialist. Only a holistic, deeply though-out and long-term strategy is a source of competitive advantage.
3. Another important link in the chain is social media. Today everyone is on Facebook and it’s still the beginning of it. Generation Z, young people born after 1995, is running away from Facebook and crosses over to other platforms. It’s because their parents are on Facebook too and for young and vibrant people that’s a big no-no. They use TikTok It’s an app that allows very creative self-expression. You need these people. Not only as employees – with their „digital native” abilities, content consumption awareness, ways of looking at brands. You need them also as message carriers for your brand.
Your fans or Facebook or Twitter can be your best allies but they can just as easily sink the product and even the best-laid plans of your marketing campaign. Fans of the brand are its best ambassadors. They have a longer reach than any, even the best, employee – a one that identifies with the company, is active, engaged and has strong positive emotions towards its mission and vision. It doesn’t mean that employer branding is worthless, on the contrary. It means that your team should work with your clients. Every day, not once in a while. They should listen to the feedback from the market – what it thinks and feels. Funny comments on social media don’t count. What will help you out are detailed reports on how your brand is perceived. For that you can use Brand24, an app helpful in brand monitoring.
4. Another important link in the chain is a Junior New Business Manager. Ignoring him and treating him like an intern might not be the best idea. Think about using his talents and optimizing a long and complicated sales funnel. The role of „leads qualifier” is not always the best for someone with proper education and talent. A Junior New Business Manager should act as a wingman – someone who aids a senior specialist when he or she doesn’t have the time or can’t do everything. The trust you give someone with less experience shows clients that they can be properly cared for even when the main account can’t do it personally. What’s also important – the quality level will not drop. Handing more and more challenging tasks to the younger college, and with time making them ahead of the product’s category or responsible for the entire market you show the possibility of promotion. You also grow as a sales specialist.
5. Networking and relations. It’s a foundation of modern business, in both B2B and B2C models. Building relations based on trust establishes a long-term relationship with a client, and earlier with a supplier, his supplier, etc. Trust comes from the properly build internal processes, properly made sales materials, etc.
6. Post-sale support. To sell something once is easy. To sell it twice is called luck. To sell it for the third time and beyond is called a relationship. Even the shortest (but still reasonable!) post-sale support builds a relation and trust.
7. Education of the customer. A key element and the last thing to mention. A modern end effective sales process starts with the customer’s education. When the customer buys because he knows what he gets for his money, you can establish a stronger relationship. And then educate, serving materials about products entering the market. You can also serve materials that will help customers envision the need for a new product. The relationship doesn’t magically appear with the purchase of the product but sooner – while browsing content that educates about the product.
The success is a personal responsibility of a sales specialist but he shouldn’t ever walk alone
Sales specialists often complain about being lonely in their companies. They don’t have proper support from the marketing department, their activities don’t fall into a wide strategy of the company. You can say that a sale is only a signature on the contract. It’s not true at all. The sale always depends on who is selling. Customer’s reasons to buy depend not on selling specialist but on the entire company.