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Your Unseen Sales Force

Flickr Photostream by Public Information Office City of Marietta, GA

One of the interesting topics that always comes up during my business seminars is how to improve the bottom line and increase sales. So as you might expect we talked about selling techniques, sales incentives, and closing. But the last thing I talk about is the fact that each and every employee you have is a salesperson for your company.

Everyone from the bookkeeper to the janitor is a potential salesperson. You might think that since these people rarely if ever come in direct contact with a customer that they do not fit the strict definition of a salesperson and you would be right. But consider the following.

Sphere of Influence

Years ago someone did a study that revealed that the average number of people who attend weddings and funerals was two hundred fifty people. This is the sphere of influence we all have. Each person who works for your company has a spouse or significant other, casual acquaintances, friends, relatives, co-workers etc. These employees are in your business approximately forty hours per week. They are with the other group one hundred twenty eight hours each week. As a business owner you need to ask a very important question. How are my employees talking about my business outside of work?

Bad News Spreads

If you have an unhappy employee will that employee talk to their spouse? Of course they will. Will the spouse talk to others about this unhappy situation? In many cases yes they will. When that happens the negative word-of-mouth about your company is on the way. And the worst part is that you may never know it’s happening. Customers are getting the word that you don’t treat your employees well and might not be a good company to do business with. Which do you think will be more powerful…your advertising or negative word-of-mouth from a company insider?

So what’s the solution to this problem? Aren’t we always going to have someone that’s unhappy? The answer is yes, you probably are. But, there are some things you can do that can improve the situation and reverse the negative before it starts. The first area you need to address is how you, as the business owner, deal with your employees. You may have a whole gamut of age ranges in your company. Generation X to the geriatric generation. How you relate to one may be entirely different from another. I’m not asking you to become a psychology expert but there are some simple ways of learning how each employee is motivated.

Give Work a Purpose

One technique I suggest is to ask employees to list their goals in life and publicly post these. For younger employees it might be getting a down payment for their first home, for older employees it might be planning for retirement or that special vacation. If the employer knows what motivates each person then the work incentives can be designed to help each employee reach their personal goals and at the same time the company goals are also met.

The other positive is that each person can go all out at work because they are working for themselves and their own dreams and not just for the companies. This produces a more positive work environment for all employees. Employees will take more pride in their work and production increases.

Build Your Business With Complaints

The next technique is to make it easy for employees to complain if they feel they have been wrongly treated in some way. In many cases it might be nothing more than a misunderstanding. But it’s a very bad situation if the employee talks to everyone except the boss. One of the best ways to get a new employee on board is with the “60 Day New Hire Survey” sheet. This questionnaire will show you if the employee is getting off on the right foot.

Some Final Thoughts

And last but not least, the “Employee of the Month.” I am not a big fan of these because you have one winner and the other 99% of the workforce are losers. It’s also largely a popularity contest. I would rather see every employee publicly recognized at least once over a six-month period for something they did well.

No matter how trivial the task. We all like to be appreciated for our efforts and each person’s efforts make the company successful. In the future think of everyone who works for you as sales people because they are.

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