Why Your Sales Team Needs to Be Your Most Authentic Brand Advocate
Are your sales and marketing functions copacetic? Or are they more like two ships that, if you’re lucky, pass in the night? Aligning your company’s marketing and business development functions:
- Unifies your team
- Builds strategic cohesion
- Keeps the sales pipeline flowing
B2B companies, especially in the industrial manufacturing sector, are competing in a fast-moving, complex digital world where a strong brand can make or break a company. A carefully crafted, well-executed company brand is a must to ensure resource-intensive sales and marketing activities are fruitful.
Dramatically changing customer expectations (which is precipitated by the changes in their buyer behaviors), disruptive technologies, and evolving ecosystems require CEOs, as well as sales and marketing directors, to anticipate and respond rapidly to stay competitive—all while staying true to their brand and on point with their messaging.
5 Steps to a Saleable Brand
- Develop a sustainable, relevant brand.
A dynamic, relatable brand starts with a comprehensive brand development process that includes researching internal and external perceptions, creating a compelling brand communications platform, and selling the brand internally to gain appreciation and buy-in.
- Involve employees in brand development.
Many companies focus their brand development efforts on the external customer, treating internal “customers”—their employees—as poor relations. Employees who are involved throughout the brand development process, and who feel their perceptions and opinions are heard and valued, are much more likely to become highly engaged brand advocates.
- Help sales people create personal brands.
While laying the foundation for a strong, engaging corporate brand is important, it is also important for sales people to have their own personal “brand.” Each sales person is unique in his or her approach in how they engage with, and relate to, customers. An authentic personal brand starts by aligning with the corporate brand, and then personalizing it to clearly communicate the value of the product or service being sold.
Trust is the cornerstone of solid relationships, so authenticity is one of the key elements in building a personal brand. You can’t “build” authenticity, but ensuring you maintain true alignment with the corporate brand vision and deliver on it in your unique way will ring true with prospects and customers in a trustworthy way. Remember, whatever marketing tools you may use, ultimately—especially in the B2B manufacturing world—you are people working with people. Your initial human connection is what will influence any subsequent interactions a prospect or customer has with your company.
A sales person who is fully onboard with the corporate brand is better able to communicate:
- What distinguishes the brand: company longevity, innovation, commitment, quality, etc.
- Benefits of using the product or service
- The enthusiasm and integrity their personal brand brings to the relationship
- Make every customer experience a great one.
According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience—experiences that are shaped largely by interactions with employees.
Sales people are often the face of a company and determine how customers perceive a company, its brand, and the value of its products or services. In interviews with clients’ customers, we often hear—assuming things like delivery, cost, and value proposition are satisfactory—brand perceptions are based almost entirely on their interactions with a sole sales person.
According to The Importance of Making Your Employees Your Most Credible Advocates,[i] “Focusing on target customers by generating excitement around the brand can come up short if companies ignore their most credible advocates—their own employees.”
- Humanize the sales experience.
Investing in corporate and personal brand development helps companies competing in the industrial space differentiate themselves by humanizing the sales experience. A comprehensive, company-wide branding program that involves employees is not only a good idea, it delivers measurable ROI and encourages ongoing dialogue for successful sales pipeline management.
Or as succinctly stated in How Employees Add Human Value to Your Brand, “Cultivate and embrace an engaged, authentic workforce, and your brand will reap the rewards.[ii]
Knowing Your Brand
Of course, the first step in all of this is having a clear awareness of what your brand is, what it (you) stands for, and how your prospects and customers perceive it. Do you know? Take a look at our Brand Report Card and see how you are doing. We work with many industrial manufacturers and have years of experience helping them navigate through our brand development process for brand “maintenance” and refreshing, along with full rebranding programs and brand strategies. Download the Brand Report Card to explore how authentically you connect with your company’s brand.