“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust - it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.” - Wally Olins, CBE (Author; Co-founder of Wolff Olins & Saffron Brand Consultants)
A company’s brand is all about creating a unified and coherent customer experience. As the frontline of the company, salespeople have to be watchful of how they portray the company. While marketing is carefully drafting your company’s key messaging that is communicated broadly through your key media channels, it’s the sales teams that communicate one-on-one with your future and current customers, on a daily basis.
As a sales leader, you represent your brand through every decision you take - the people you hire, how you train and coach them, the playbooks you provide, and how you manage the balance between individual personalisation and being “on brand”. But how do you get insights into what’s actually happening in your team’s outbound email conversations, and what can you do to ensure it’s in sync with your company’s voice?
Here are 6 steps to preserve your company’s brand image.
Ambitious targets are a norm for sales teams across industries and companies. What differentiates the best sales companies is that they are explicit about their sales approach. How do you want your salespeople to establish urgency? Through customer context like trigger events, instilling the fear of competitors, or shorten supply as with time-limited offers? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors - do you even mention them? How much freedom do you give sales people to inject their own personality, and how much “brand-risk” do you accept? How have you trained your team to structure and run a conversation with a potential buyer?
It is highly important to clarify and convey your strategy at the outset. All salespeople want to hit their targets, but many often succumb to using aggressive selling tactics. As a sales leader, you must watch out for such tendencies and motivate your team to be both authentic and on-brand in their sales approach.
As a sales leader, you must ensure that your representatives are aligned with what they could promise. All customers would jump at more performance and features. But would your solutions team be able to deliver them? What level of customization is acceptable for your star customers? Offering stringent SLAs is a good idea, but only if your service team is adequately prepared to fully comply. Salespeople tend to offer discounts and incentives, but would finance and legal teams approve it? Sales leaders must try to develop collaborative relationships with all these departments, and encourage their teams to do the same. You’d come across as a unified organisation only if you act as a unified organisation.
Salespeople are always on the lookout for information that could help them bring a customer on board. Through both, formal and informal channels, they are looking for ways to understand their ideal customer, the buyer personas involved, the movements in the industry, the latest achievements of your own company - a tiny piece of information that could make the customer say yes!
But, if information is precious, discretion is sacred. As a sales leader, inform your reps of what is happening in your organisation, such as strategy changes, partnerships, fundraising etc. But also make sure they understand how much they can divulge in a sales email or a sales call. Any official communication has to be legally sound.
An effective way to gain the trust of your prospects is by providing social proof. Customer references and testimonials go a long way during the sales process. But before your team does that, you must ensure that you have adequate permissions from your reference customers. Think about how the reference would be presented, what information about your customer would be visible to prospects and for how long you’d be using the testimonial. Make sure that your reference account is fully aware and OK with how you’re leveraging their brand.
As the SaaS industry grows, it is bound to be more regulated and scrutinized. Data privacy and data ethics are the hot topics for this decade, e.g. the GDPR regulation has already affected how outbound sales take place in the industry. As a sales leader, you must strive to remain informed of new legislations that might affect your processes and be on top of governance and documentation to be future-ready. Ensure that your team is trained on the legal implications of their outreach and be friends with your CRM!
A high-quality sales email goes a long way in establishing a stronger relationship with your prospect. But you must also measure and reward your team against metrics that truly reflect your brand values. E.g., cost per qualified lead gives you a better sense of the outbound team’s effectiveness than cost per lead. Similarly, measuring the number of troubled projects in relation to overselling is a great indicator to identify needs for additional training and refinement of your sales approach. In order to instill a culture of high-quality sales practices, reward those behaviours and look at results in conjunction with the process.
Sales leaders can empower their teams to be authentic, trustworthy representatives of the company, responsible for preserving the reputation of the brand. They can do so by:
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