Sounds like a great concept, but when you have a full time, professional sales force that is admired throughout the world, getting the organization to believe that everyone can and should sell is no simple task. However, what I saw was an untapped resource that were so much more than cogs in the machine.
We employed thousands of people on client sites across the country to handle entry-level tasks like printing, copying, and mail handling. Many of these people had strong client relationships and a first-hand knowledge of client needs. So they quickly proved to be effective at identifying opportunities for us to expand our services. And I believed that some of these people had the talent and energy to help us by selling more services.
To take advantage of this opportunity, however, we had to transform the culture. So we developed incentives that were clearly linked to individual and team performance. We also established a carefully articulated career path so our best performers could envision a bright future with our company.
Next, we began sharing detailed account information with employees so they could understand all of the basic business issues just as well as our full-time sales reps. We also provided sales training to help them learn how to spot opportunities for new business. You can read more about how to build an entrepreneurial culture here.
As it turned out, many of these operational employees had more insight into client needs than our local sales reps. And they took advantage of that knowledge to help us grow the business on their accounts.
Unleashing a Natural Salesman
In fact, one of the most charismatic sales people I have ever met was a mailroom employee who was given the training, opportunity and encouragement to develop his entrepreneurial skills.
Most mailroom employees were content to work their way through a client’s building, dropping packages and envelopes on people’s desks. This young man was different. He took the time to get to know people and learn about their jobs. And by using his natural people skills, he discovered opportunities for us to do more for his customers and generate more revenue in the process.
By expanding the role of operational staff to include a secondary sales responsibility, we significantly increased our Same Account Revenue (you can find more information in the The Business Services Leader Case Study). As a result, we had plenty of money to count, orders to fulfill and customers to serve.