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Every salesforce has its traditions, whether it’s a quick ritual to gear up for the week or a unique way of approaching follow-up calls. Traditions can be a powerful way to strengthen the culture of a team, develop consistent practices and provide structure that enables each salesperson to thrive.
But traditions also can be a double-edged sword. Relying too heavily on the things you have done in the past can prevent you and your team from adapting and evolving. Many of the most effective sales teams know how to strike a balance between convention and thinking outside of the box. Sometimes, you stay ahead of the game and learn more by breaking the rules.
Legacy Republic experienced this lesson firsthand during our first Mother’s Day as a company last year. Our mission is to help people preserve and share their family legacies by digitizing their personal videos and photo albums. We achieve this through a network of social sellers, called “Legacy Makers,” who engage with customers by educating them on the importance of digitizing their family memories. While Mother’s Day is typically viewed as a one-day celebration, we decided to buck tradition and turn it into a week’s worth of festivities. The expanded “Mother’s Week” timeline ended up providing greater convenience for the sellers, hosts and guests alike, and gave the sellers more time to create immersive, customized experiences for their customers.
Switching up the way things are done and actively experimenting with new ways is an important part of planning long-term business strategies. In today’s fast-moving world, stagnation can be the kiss of death. Any business, no matter the size or sector, that wants to succeed is striving to stay agile and relevant. Let’s take a look at the five steps businesses can take to help their sales teams shine.
1) Defy Tradition
The glue of tradition can unite your independent sellers who don’t have the common ground of working together in an office.
But the “glue of tradition” also can cause your sellers to get stuck. If they cling too closely to what they know, they can become less responsive to the cues of their environments and may miss out on new opportunities. You may be able to sustain your sales, but your business may face limitations.
Therefore, sales managers should cultivate a culture of innovation. Let your sellers know that you want them to experiment, iterate, adapt and put their own personal spin on how they sell. Giving them wiggle room can make the sales process more authentic, since sellers are being true to themselves rather than convention, and they may just land on a golden nugget insight that could push their business forward. And don’t be afraid to be unconventional in your company’s approach to sales, since the most effective strategy is often the one that is unique and true to your brand and company culture. Create an entirely new experience for customers and sellers alike.
2) Make It Easy
Sellers can do their best work when they are not bogged down by bureaucracy, legwork and minutiae. Their focus and energies ultimately should be directed at the customer. And businesses have within their power so much to make the sales process easier for their sellers. This may require getting more involved in the creative support you offer your sellers.
For example, we designed and distributed special Mother’s Week-themed kits. Each “celebration in a box” included a step-by-step guide for running a successful celebration and branded content that promoted interactivity and fun, such as game cards with questions about memorable mom moments that helped foster conversation. In addition, it included Mother’s Week-themed wine bottles, labels and party favors that ensured they took the experience home with them, as well as photo booth signs that encouraged guests to take pictures and share on social networks.
Every element of these kits reduced the preparation our sellers had to do for their Mother’s Week sales push, while also making their celebrations as impactful and memorable as possible. What constitutes the sales support will differ widely for every business, but the key lesson is to make it easy for sellers to engage with their customers meaningfully before, during and after their pitch.
3) Motivate with Tangible Rewards and Recognition
There is an art and a science to motivating employees and the sales field, whether they are an accountant or a sales star. Research from the American Psychological Association shows that recognition and rewards are essential for ensuring they are happy, motivated and productive. However, most people, especially millennials, “work for purpose, not paycheck,” according to Forbes writer Karl Moore, and it may surprise some sales leaders to learn that cash is not always the best way to motivate your salesforce.
You can boost the motivation and engagement of your sales team by breaking with tradition and looking for new, interesting ways to reward. Companies using incentive programs reported a 79 percent success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct reward was offered, according to Blackhawk Engagement Solutions.
And the more public and personal the recognition, the better. A study from Bersin and Associates found that organizations where recognition occurs perform 14 percent better on engagement, productivity and customer service than those where recognition does not occur. We learned that the most coveted prizes are ones that gain our Legacy Makers some visibility, and help them grow their businesses.
4) Make the Experience #Social
In today’s digital age, it is imperative that businesses incorporate social media into their long-term sales strategy, especially for companies whose sales take place “offline” and in person. Think about how you can leverage social media at every step of the sales process to make the experience complete; think creatively about how to use social media channels to expand the conversations happening offline.
At Legacy Republic, we conducted a Facebook Photo Contest and shared the photo entries to spark more mom conversations on our social media channels throughout the week. We also encouraged our sellers to share memories from their own Celebration events across social media. This widened the reach of these intimate events to our growing online community, and made more moms feel like they could participate, while we also personalized our brand and conveyed our mission in an authentic way.
Be sure to provide a specific hashtag so that everyone participating can drive traffic in a way you can easily monitor.
5) Make It Official
Press releases are traditionally reserved for big corporate announcements. But there is no hard-and-fast rule that says press releases have to be limited in this way. Press releases, as well as other forms of content, such as blog posts, can be a great way to connect with your sellers.
A press release can feel more “official” to laud their efforts and serve as both communication and recognition. This is especially important for a distributed salesforce, where each seller is really operating on their own as an entrepreneur. Press releases are an effective way to keep them informed and feel like they are part of the community. Additionally, blog posts can be a powerful way to convey lessons about sales strategies, among other relevant topics.
Don’t have the budget to hire a PR pro? Work with a strong writer internally. There are plenty of online resources to guide you through the process.
For all the countless books about “how to sell,” the reality is that there is no secret. What is effective in a salesperson varies significantly between individuals, campaigns and companies. Rather than adhering to tradition, break out of the norms. Inspire your team of social sellers to be creative and independent, so that they can have fun as they sell and drive long-term business results.
Which creative strategies has your team used to drive activity, engagement and sales?
Sharleen Reyes is Vice President of Marketing at Legacy Republic, the social selling division of YesVideo Inc. that offers services to preserve family photos and videos.