For a long time businesses have been focusing on how to achieve better sales results. Organisations with varying levels of maturity and insight have embarked on many different journeys to get there. Some have been very savvy and have taken a holistic systems approach by putting in place sales strategies, market segmentation plans underpinned by clear sales processes, standards and values that inform their sales teams.
Some organisations tried other alternatives, with varied levels of success, from good training systems to silver-bullet solutions that offer no sustainable or significant results. However, the most successful organisations are the ones who have already realised that selling is everybody’s business.
Selling has to be a whole business focus. Every person in a business needs to understand and acknowledge that we are all in sales now. All people across the value chain – from production, credit, procurement to post-sales service, everyone – is part of the sales value chain.
This trend is about how smart companies recognise the importance of selling across the value chain and making sales and customer satisfaction a whole business activity with true purpose.
Let’s start with customer service
What better example to illustrate this point than customer service? How many clients are lost each year due to bad customer service? Ninety-one percent of clients that have a bad customer service experience will leave the company for a competitor without complaining or raising the issue with the first company. Considering the sales effort required to win a client in the first place, that is a lot of energy and resources going to waste.
Other areas of the business are less obviously exposed but still have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, client retention and continued sales growth.
For instance, if procurement is cutting costs by diminishing the quality or limiting the choice of the suppliers it will affect sales; if there’s a lack of quality control in the production process this will affect sales; if poorly managed logistics prevents clients from receiving or finding products in a timely manner, resulting in them switching to an alternative provider, this will affect sales.
If the payments/credit department doesn’t manage data accurately or personal customer interactions professionally, or if senior management are too internally focused on only profits and shareholder return, this will affect sales, and so on. The issues in most of these areas take more time to show up in terms of poor sales results than bad customer service, but that doesn’t make them less of a problem.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting a good customer experience (brought along by consistent good quality of product or service and positive interactions with the selling organisation) is an antidote against losing good clients.
Research shows clients prefer to pay a higher price if they receive good service and positive experiences every time they deal with the selling organisation.
What clients want
- To deal with real professionals;
- A clear definition of what ‘success’ will look like;
- Help with information, sorting and sifting;
- An expectation of being ‘helped’ and kept informed;
- Conceptual thinking;
- Business acumen and commercial awareness;
- Access to business/salespeople who can think about possibilities;
- A planned approach for change; and
- To feel safe.
The reality is that 21st century organisations need to keep up to date with the demands and expectations of the 21st century client. Smart companies map their value chains and define clear accountabilities for each business area as they relate to customer attraction, retention and ongoing sales. Retaining a client is as important, if not more important, as getting a new client on board and it has to be a whole business effort.
In the race for profits and cost-cutting, many companies have forgotten this and resort to trying to lure customers via other means. Loyalty cards, discount vouchers, special promotions and more can be good marketing attraction tools, but they don’t make up for not having good people in place who can deliver the promised products or services in a consistent and respectful manner.
It’s a matter of going back to basics. Organisations need to have good quality products and services they take to market that are underpinned by a shared mindset, ethos and functional capability that stems across their entire value chain.
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Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Get to know Sue further on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.