In the last two issues of The SalesPulse™, which you can see in our blog, we have discussed how you utilise your resources in a harmonised manner to tackle your challenges. We have used sales effectiveness as an example, after all this is a sales newsletter! In the January edition we identified your resources as, customers, people, infrastructure (processes and systems), investment funds and company culture. In both that issue and last month’s we discussed how we can apply investment, people, and infrastructure to improve sales effectiveness. In this issue we will look at your customers and company culture and the role they play in improving sales effectiveness.

Customers are arguably your best and most valuable asset, but are grossly under used because the people who serve them, be they sales people, customer services or management may not necessarily have confidence in what your company delivers. Few have customer satisfaction surveys, delivery follow-up questionnaires, customer experience programmes or a senior manager asking a customer “How are we doing”? Nobody likes to be told “Badly” – but in many cases that might very well be the case. We all know that customer satisfaction drives loyalty and repeat/enhancement business. But it also drives business from new customers, if used correctly.
Do you have a referrals sales strategy? Referrals are a highly, if not the most effective way of generating sales, and there a number of ways in which referrals operate. However, the most effective one is the personal referral. Here are just a few statistics related to the subject.

  • 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do. (Source Texas Tech University)
  • 92% of respondents trusted referrals from people they knew. (Source Nielsen)
  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. (Source Nielsen)
  • Every referring customers makes an average of 2.68 invites. (Source Referral SaaSquatch Data Science)

For many small businesses, referrals are the only way they do business. Irrespective of the size of your business, a referrals strategy is a must. Click here for The SalesPulse Academy’s referrals introduction.
Another customer activity which can inform strategy is the “voice of the customer”. For this to be successful you need to collect feedback after each interaction, even if it is as simple as “Give me a score out of ten” for this service or sales meeting. It is very illuminating how something this simple can give you enormously valuable strategic input.
Moving on now to the topic of company culture. In one or two words how would you simply describe yours? Do any of these ring a bell? Hierarchical, autocratic, siloed, controlling, internally focused, technically led, unempowered, customer centric, engaging, family values, entrepreneurial and I am sure there are a lot more. These adjectives are the ones that sprung to mind, they are conditioned, not from a Google search or from a management book, but from experience. What struck me about them, was there were more negatives than positives, but perhaps I have had a lot of bad experiences!
What is the most important asset most companies have? I would say customers. Where on organisations charts are the people who deal with these valuable assets? Unless you are Timpson’s or a few other empowered, engaging and customer centric companies, the customer facing staff are at the bottom of the chart. The key point in this is; if you are changing a strategy or implementing a new one, will your culture facilitate it? For example the most common cause of failure in mergers and acquisitions is conflicting cultures. Going back to our example of sales effectiveness, if your culture is controlling, your non-sales customer facing people will not go the extra mile, do the unexpected, or bend a company rule to ensure the customer is totally satisfied. In this case your sales effectiveness improvement strategy will be impaired.
Your new strategy is important. Inspect every one of your resources because each one will have an impact on its success or otherwise.
The SalesPulse Insight
What is the main reason that you lose sales campaigns? Do you lose on price or features or service or some other reason? Let me say, in my opinion these are not reasons, they are excuses. There is only one real reason, and that is you were outsold. Understand the reasons for this, improve your win rate and make selling your competitive advantage.