Every business that fails to acquire new customers at some point will fail in business. The acquisition of new customers is essential to be the lifeblood or the pulse of any business growth, and there will always be natural wastage. So bringing new customers on board is incredibly important. In this edition, I want to talk to you about a mindset focus, rather than a process focus, as normal. A simple shift in the way you currently see things or believe things may well have a dramatic increase or an impact upon you and your business. Lets look at sales; the acquisition of new customers, the winning of new business and understand whose job it is to do so. Who’s really responsible for the acquisition of new customers?
In every business that I’ve been involved in, before I got involved, there was a huge divide between the sales side of the business and the operational side of the business. Sales is the sales team’s job, and the operational team are there to deliver the activities and the actions that result in the product or service being created. For me, sales is a philosophy, not a department. Everybody sells. I want you to look at it quite simply – that there are two departments. One department is selling and the other department is selling support. Those are the two critical roles. People will fall into one of those two camps. So, the responsibility of everybody outside of the sales team is to support the sales team, be it delivering on the promises that are made, ensuring that the products and services are delivered in a way that is fitting with the explanation, and ensuring that the administrative processes that follow allowed sales people to sell more effectively. Where you can get the two working coherently, you get massive uplifts in results. This has been crucial in the success of every turnaround project that I’ve been involved in. Turning around retail operations in major department stores, furniture retailers, or football retailers, have all come from creating this coherent response where everybody understands that they all contribute towards the sales process. If you’re building a business that looks to connect with its customers, where it has long-term relationships with these customers, everybody who is involved in any customer-facing role needs to be aware of how they impact upon the sales process.
Let’s look at this in a number of ways and see where people make an impact, so you can really understand and illustrate the point that I’m making to you. Number one is identifying new prospects. You have sales people on a regular basis looking to identify the next person they can speak to. In simplistic form, if you have a dream customer, a most wanted list or a prospect list, sharing that list with everybody within your organisation may well create an opening or an opportunity that doesn’t yet exist. You don’t know who knows who, but when you share stuff, stuff happens. The more people that know what it is that you’re looking, for the more chances you’ve got in finding it.
Let’s look again at another area that is usually impacted upon by other people in your business. The first impression on a customer or potential customer is incredibly important. When the phone rings, the way in which that phone is answered will set the tone and the expectation for how your customer believes your business to be run and what results they can expect from it. There’s a sales responsibility there for the people that answer your telephones.
The uplifts that I’ve enjoyed purely by looking at all of the areas where sales and sales support teams cross over are huge. Where we’ve made it work, we’ve seen an increase in revenue, in profits. We’ve seen no late payments from our customers because we’ve impacted sales skills upon our cash collection teams. We have no bad debts. We get preferential treatment from our suppliers because we stand out. We understand the impact and importance of managing great relationships with our suppliers. When favours need to be called upon that allow us to win new business, fulfil challenges and stand out from the crowd, our suppliers look upon us favourably because of the way they’ve been treated up until that point in time. We can increase operational efficiency, because our selling support teams are fully aware of the part that they have to play in supporting the sales team. So paperwork moves quickly, jobs get fulfilled quickly, stuff gets ordered quickly. Those are things that we’ve seen with clients in the past. We’ve seen improved staff product productivity when everybody is chasing the same rabbit. You can’t chase more than one rabbit. It’s remarkably difficult if you’re trying to chase too many different outcomes. Everybody pulling in the same direction will lead to far better results. You gain more free time when everybody pulls in the same direction and understands that they have a role towards the sales team.
Overall, what you really get is improved communication. In every area, people understand what their purpose is. Everybody is accountable for better sales results–not just one person. Look at everybody in your business and look at every process within your business. Does it support your sales process or does it hinder it right down to the delivery? One of the best examples I’ve got of the final touch with a customer is in furniture retail. We took time to train the delivery drivers on basic sales skills, how that delivery driver would act, what they would install, what packaging they would take away, and what lengths they would go to ensure that the customer was delighted. They knew what was expected of them so they could over deliver. We then helped them understand that they were the final part of the customer experience, so we said, “Let’s make it a good one.
Let’s make sure they thank the customer for their business, are courteous and shake hands”. We even went one step further. We trained delivery drivers to ask for referrals and some of them got them.
You can get everybody pulling in the same direction. You can get everybody sales-focused, everybody focused on the task at hand of acquiring more new business. Your sales results will go up because everybody is pulling in the same direction and everybody is selling.