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Instilling a Sales Culture into your Business

Written by : Lori Karpman
2006-10-15
Instilling a "Sales Culture" into your business will dramatically improve your bottom line. That is, it will help you sell more franchises and make your existing franchises more successful. There is no major investment required to reap the rewards that this culture can provide namely, increased revenues and improved client relationships. Companies often overlook the selling process and invest heavily in research and development, technology and other "operational areas”.

However, it is the people in our organization who are representing the brand, and therefore, "selling”, for the company at every contact with the customer. A customer will judge a company from the receptionist to the sales representative to the delivery driver who delivers the merchandise ordered. Together, these people form a "selling network”. Yet, we rarely see companies investing in training these individuals on customer service, the companies' philosophy or the features and benefits of their products. You can have the greatest concept in the world, but it will not sell well unless everyone on your team is out there selling for you.

What is "Selling"?

We tend to think of "selling” as a bad word, and in a negative fashion, reserved for used car salesman, but this is the furthest thing from the truth. Selling is not about forcing your views upon someone else nor is it about persuasion. It is about showing a prospect how your product or service fulfills their needs and provides value. Communicating your product offering in a manner that shows the prospect that his needs will be met better than by your competition. Persuading does not work and often results in the purchaser buying and later, returning or cancelling the order. This is called "buyer's remorse” and is what you want to avoid at all times.

Selling starts with communicating a company's vision and in most businesses, selling is an ongoing process. A potential client begins the buying process when they first come into contact with you or your brand. They immediately begin to form an impression of your brand and product offering as well as begin to evaluate the possibility that you have something of value to them.

Selling is: making yourself known to your market, qualifying your prospective clients, determining their needs, communicating your value proposition to them and finally completing a sales transaction. If a prospect knows your brand and has a good impression of it, respects the company, has a need that is met by your product offering, and has the required funds to invest, they will purchase from you because they "want” to and that is the essence of a good sale. In this sale there is no buyer's remorse.

Why is Selling important?

Selling is not only important but it is the only way to grow your business and increase your profitability. Selling is crucial because your competition is "un-selling” you at every chance they get! Resting on your laurels from previous sales is a bad strategy. There is always a better mousetrap being built. And do not forget, you also need to sell to your existing clients. A continued effort must be made to sell your vision to and products at every turn.

Who Sells?

While they may not realize it, every single member of an organization sells. Everyone who works for the company in some way represents the brand and reflects upon the company. You sell or un-sell every time you come into contact with a prospect. The receptionist sells every time she answers the phone. The person on the other end, whether a prospective franchise, an investor, or a business partner, will be influenced by that person's demeanor. They will form an impression of your company and whether or not they might want to do business with you. That person is just as important in the selling process as the real "salesman”.

The best way to understand that everyone sells is to remember that every potential client comes into contact with either the people, or the product, that your company produces. Each contact then is an opportunity is to either sell or un-sell a potential client

What are we really selling?

Is a consumer-products franchise selling just products to their customers? Or are they selling the concept behind that product? Both. When a consumer enters a franchise they are not just buying the products the franchise sells. They are buying the brand. Each franchisee then is a salesman of franchises and therefore is selling franchises at the same time as selling the products sold in their store. So each customer is also a potential franchisee who may perhaps be looking to buy your concept. A franchisee buys your brand, your vision, and your goodwill. They too then are salesman and must be part of the Sales Culture.

The Essence of Good Salesmanship

Regardless of your sales philosophy, approach or experience, one factor accounts for the success in any sale. Honesty and integrity. Before all else you need to sell yourself. The way you sell yourself is not by bragging all about you or the company. It is by establishing trust and rapport. Many franchises have important marketing campaigns which aim to do just that. They give their potential clients a look into who they are and what the brand stands for. A potential consumer customer begins their buying process by considering who they are buying from. People buy people. No matter how good your product is, people will only purchase from people who they believe are sincere in their interest to service the customer honestly and sincerely and not for their own personal gain.

Always remember that you want to communicate how your company will offer something of value to the prospect. People buy to improve their lives, to satisfy their needs, not yours.

What is a Sales Culture?

A sales culture exists when all levels of the company are actively promoting and contributing to the growth of the brand. In a sales-oriented organization, the CEO is the top salesperson, continuously selling the vision and brand, to his employees, business partners, franchisees, and consumers. A sales culture makes every member part of the mission to expand the brand and grow business. Everyone has ownership in that process and feels like they are part of the bigger picture. From the CEO to the delivery driver, the mission of the company is communicated, the value of the product or service is internalized and the growth of the company is desired. Together these people propel the company forward.

How do I instill a sales culture in my organization?

Instilling a sales culture at all levels requires the top personnel's commitment to selling. The leader of the organization needs to be the top sales person. Sales training classes for all levels should be instituted on a yearly or even bi-annual basis to ensure that all levels understand the company's mission, value proposition and philosophy. This ensures that all levels of the company are integrated and have the same message to communicate to prospects and customers. The cohesiveness amongst the teams that this will create will have numerous other benefits as well in increased teamwork skills, commitment to the job and brand, and overall health of the organization. You will see not only an increase in sales but other favorable financial results as well, all of which will increase your bottom line. Profitability is a direct consequence of, among other things, how well everyone sells.

A franchisor grows his/her business by expansion. Selling franchises is only part of that. Instilling a Sales Culture among your entire team will be an investment that will pay back in spades!
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