It’s essential that your sales staff know how to sell the key features and attributes of your products. But there’s something else that’s just as essential for them to sell, yet that’s often overlooked: the value and promises of your brand. Taking every opportunity to promote your brand helps build a deeper relationship with your customers.
Building brand loyalty with your customers is certainly about delivering on the promises represented by your products and services. But selling those promises with conviction requires that your sales reps take the time to educate customers about the depth of your promises and commit to ensuring that these promises are kept. When they are, your salespeople are elevated in the customer’s eyes. They become “go to” people who embody your brand in a real and tangible way.
A customer with a deep relationship with one of your sales reps is far less likely to shop around every time they’re about to place a new order. This tends to increase repeat sales from existing customers, which is vastly less expensive than prospecting and capturing new ones.
But you won’t achieve this happy outcome simply by urging your reps to play up your brand when they interact with clients and prospects. You need to stamp your brand onto your sales team—well, not literally—by encouraging and supporting them to more fully embrace your brand.
Here are four key ways to turn your salespeople into brand boosters—and make it easier for them to sell more of your stuff.
Write a playbook for your brand
Chances are you have product or service manuals describing what you sell. These were well worth the time it took to compile, because they give your sales staff and customers key information necessary to the use or enjoyment of your offerings.
In the same way, you can sum up the concept of selling your brand by writing a a simple two- or three-page “Introduction to Our Brand” document. This will give your salespeople a sense of the bigger mission they’re connected to, while linking branding and selling as kissing cousins of growth and success.
If, for example, total customer satisfaction is a key pillar of your brand promise that distinguishes you from the competition, highlight that. It’s a great talking point for salespeople as they work through the selling process to the eventual close.
Your brand manual can be as long or short as you like, but make sure it includes these essentials:
- What does our brand stand for?
- What is the tone or character of our brand?
- What is our unique selling proposition or key promise of benefit?
- How do we prove this promise to be real?
- How does this promise distinguish us from the competition?
Teach your reps how to avoid robotic elevator pitches
An elevator pitch—summing up in 30 to 60 seconds what your company does and why people should buy from you—is a classic branding method. And you should include one in your brand manual. But you also have to guard against a common risk with elevator pitches: how do you ensure that your sales staff deliver this vital message without sounding as soulless as a robot?
You should engage your staff in talking about your core brand promise in a way that is natural for them. One method is to have them take the “corporate” version, rewrite it in their own words and present it at a joint sales meeting. Invite comments from other staff to encourage all your salespeople to share their “brand story” with conviction and flare. Do this with each new sales hire. And review the pitch regularly to see how the message is evolving and, more important, how prospects and customers are responding to it.
Never miss a chance to deliver a branding message
Applying smart branding standards to all your customer touch points can go a long way in helping your sales staff become the brand ambassadors you need them to be. For example, if part of your branding promise is to offer your customers personal service via email or phone, get that information up close to the salesperson’s name on his or her business card. And make it legible at a glance.
As well, ensure that each sales rep’s email signature includes all the contact information a prospect or customer may need, including your website and, if applicable, an invitation to follow you on social media, on your company blog or to subscribe to your newsletter. And ensure that reps who will be away from the office on, say, a vacation provide an auto-reply offering an alternate person to contact. If you do these things already, they may seem obvious, yet it’s astonishing how many companies don’t.
On voicemail greetings, avoid at all costs automated replies with just your name inserted. Thank the customer for calling and mention your company’s name. Again, if reps will be away for an extended time, they should provide an alternate contact, email address or their own cellphone number.
Recognize the best and encourage the rest
Good salespeople who embrace the idea that selling is a branding function relish recognition. This should be based on standard performance metrics, such as quotas, sales, growth and profitability. But you should also rate performance on factors that support your branding mission. For example:
¢ Who got the largest numbers of repeat sales from their customers?
¢ Who got the largest number of referrals from existing customers?
If you have a company blog or other social media platform where staff are encouraged to post comments, think about rewarding those salespeople who take the time to post relevant content. If your salespeople attend workshops, trade shows or other industry events and post content on Twitter, you can recognize that as a brand-boosting effort, too.
Recognize brand boosters in a fun and public way. Post their picture and a recent achievement in the office. Take them to lunch or give them gift cards to a local coffee shop. However you recognize them, make it part of your culture, and your brand promise, to inspire and encourage excellence in the folks who sell your product and service. Doing this supports your overall brand mission and creates a culture in which everyone gets the opportunity to become more invested in your company’s brand community.
Wayne S. Roberts is president and chief creative officer of Blade Creative Branding, a firm specializing in strategic branding, creative advertising and innovative online solutions.
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