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How do you get your staff to think about sales?

I was sitting in a board meeting recently. The company I met wanted to expand and they asked me to give some input on how. It was a pleasant and profitable mission where my job was just to just sit back and listen.

I fell asleep after three minutes.

This particular meeting was about strategy, the participants shuffled restlessly in their chairs before it all erupted into a big competition about who could use the most complicated trade lingo. Everyone won.

And now I wonder: Somewhere between a good business and all the board meetings, the very essence of the company – what the company was really good at in the beginning – seems to disappear. And what can you do to bring out the management message to the staff – simply how to get the staff to start thinking about selling - and enjoy it at the same time? This is what we will talk about today.

Everything starts with the formulation of the business idea
During my time as an employee, I never got to know what business ideas any of the companies that I worked for had. The result of this was that I never really could see the task we had ahead of us. It was a job, sometimes a fun job, but hardly anything more than that. I think this is also the situation at - I'm guessing here - 98% of all companies. Maybe yours too?

A business must be expressed in one simple sentence. The sentence should be foolproof, so it can be shared with everyone, pester us every day, every week - always. Why is your company in business? Everyone has to know this in order to know what to do.
It's not mumbo-jumbo. It's not quantum physics.   It's not some fancy trade lingo. It's not ”Let's play the Formulate a nifty concept-game” like when you are at the bank looking for a loan. You have to cut to the chase. Hit the spot and then make sure that everyone - the staff, all your suppliers and anyone who has a relationship with your company, especially your customers - can help you fulfill the company's goal. That's it.

Everyone should be able to wake up at half past three in the morning and be able to directly answer the question of what goal the company they work for has in this world.

Listen to and reward ideas
There are two important reasons to communicate regularly with the staff. The first is that you will get good ideas (which are rewarded with cash or in some other concrete way). The second is that you will make the staff involved in the company's forward motion. Without involvement, no commitment. People don't work just to simply make a living today.

Encourage and take care of talents
It's all down to the people you hire. The million dollar question is: Who will you choose - a highly qualified grumpy person or a sales-oriented and positive, but more inexperienced person? You can often teach a positive person your corporate culture, but rarely make a natural grump happy. You know what I mean…

Provide your employees with their own powers
Are your staff allowed to resolve issues with customers themselves? Will they give dissatisfied customers compensation - without asking the boss? Do they make exceptions to the rules sometimes if they think it's needed? Again, it's participation that is the key to engagement.

We are all sellers
Just a worn out buzzword? Absolutely not! Why doesn't your warehouse staff have business cards with a title that makes them proud to work with you and proud to hand out the card to everyone they meet? Why can't all of your employees offer their friends discounts on your products? It's all about participation again. Think of all positions in the company. It's not just the sellers that have to be taken care of and getting rewards and other nice things. You also have people in the switchboard, in the store rooms and at the finance department talking to people - selling impressions of your business - every day. Reward those who are usually not rewarded and you will see what happens with enthusiasm and the spirit of the entire company.

Finally, a question:
What do you do today to make your staff sell your company?

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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