A decade ago, sales people were sales people, marketers were marketers, and accountants were accountants. Everyone had clear roles and lines of responsibility. They did their job, and they specialized in their field.
In the Social Era, the lines of responsibility have become fuzzy. Almost every person and every department has a client facing responsibility. And everyone has to come together to create winning customer experiences that drive sales.
Specialization creates overhead, not value
In the 80’s and 90’s, people could specialize in their roles. Companies created stable positions and encouraged their people to specialize in professions, because it created more efficient organizations. It was a purposeful effort to make the office run as efficiently as a factory.
Companies could invest in office efficiency, because they operated in a relatively stable business climate. Investments in people and infrastructure could be amortized over a decade or more.
In the Social Era static infrastructure is more of a liability than an asset. Companies are lucky if they can amortize investments in office efficiency over a year or two, let alone a decade.
The rise of the Internet, social media, communication technologies and globalization have upset the business climate.
Everyone has to sell
One-in-nine professionals in the United States are sales people. That’s 11%. It’s not enough. The world is changing too fast and has too many competitive forces for sales people to be the primary drivers of revenue.
In a climate of change, everyone has sales responsibilities. There’s no way a dedicated sales force can do it all. The whole organization has to work together to develop, grow and manage client relationships.
Every customer touch point is a sales opportunity.
Bake sales into your business
Companies like Virgin, Starbucks and Apple bake marketing into everything they do. Business development starts with the CEO, and radiates down through every department and function in the company. The sales responsibility is shared by all.
You can see the sales process at work every time you interact with these companies. It’s subtle, but it’s very obvious. It’s the total brand experience:
- The products and services they offer
- The look, feel, design and functionality of their services
- The way you’re served, and how they make you feel
They’re not just selling through their marketing or their sales people, their selling through everything they do at every touchpoint.
Adapt, serve and sell
Every employee has a customer responsibility: deliver on the brand promise. And that goes beyond their functional jobs. It extends into relationship building and evangelizing the brand. Everyone has a responsibility to take the client relationship seriously, and strive every day to meet their needs.