More For Less: Teaching non-sales folks to sell.

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If you’re going to succeed in today’s small business realm, you really need to ensure that your entire staff is marketing your product or service. The days have passed where you can afford to have a receptionist filing his/her nails when a client walks in the door or gives you a ring. Everyone in the office needs to be in tune with the fact that selling new accounts/products and servicing those accounts/products are the essentials to growing the business and in turn, their paychecks. Below are three steps for converting that introverted comptroller into a valuable part of your sales team.

Buy In:

You’ve heard of this concept? Great! Now let’s implement it. If you want non-sales staff selling your products, then you need to explain to them why it’s important for them to participate. Different things motivate different people, but in most cases an explanation is a good starting point. Let them know that sales growth and happy customers keep the business open and in turn, everyone employed. This may seem like innate “home-grown” knowledge, but when we start assuming that everyone understands this concept, we get into some big trouble.

Another way to gain buy in is to tie dollars to it. I personally like the idea of an in-house referral fee. For every customer a non-sales staff member brings into the business, you should pay them a specific dollar amount on the sale. This can be a percentage of the sales price or a set amount, but this makes the idea personal. They gain the power to give themselves a raise, and you gain the benefit of a “production” based compensation model. No production, no additional compensation.

Tie an expected number of referrals into each position’s work objectives. Now I’m not saying that we should all be out cracking our friends and families over the head trying to force them into buying our latest widget, but it is important however, to have an objective for every person on the staff. This number should be an easily obtainable objective that requires only a partial conscious effort. We don’t want too much distraction from their essential duties, but we do want them motivated enough to ask others to patronize the business.

Engage them. By inviting them to the brainstorming table and letting them know you value their input on things outside their normal scope, you gain valuable insight and new ideas. The buy in becomes automated and you might find that many of the suggestions mentioned here become internally organic.

Create the process

You’ve got their buy in, now what? Since you are the business owner or manager, you probably have some form of sales skill set. You have done things, met people, or marketed in ways that has brought your business to this level, right? What methods do you use to ask others to spend their dollars at your establishment? Write them down!

The key here is to create an expected method or process that will allow you to teach others how to sell your products and/or services. You should have a glossary of terms that describe your business/products and a set of “tag-lines” or phrases that you deem appropriate in those descriptions. For example, if you’re in the pest control industry you might not call the pesticides you use “chemicals”…”Product” is a more customer friendly term. Another example within the same industry might be “treatment” rather than the negative phrase, “spraying your house.”

In other words, proper terminology and phrasing are essential to creating a positive image. As a business owner, you are automatically using this terminology….codify it and prepare to share it with those working for you.

If you prefer, you can hire a consultant who specializes in these things (Shameless plug). The money spent on proper advice is usually well worth the expense.

Train them up!

If you want employees to do something, not only do you need to tell them to do it, but you should teach them how. Training is always the difference maker for a business. In this particular case, the depth of training required to get a sales person ready to go out into the field is not necessary, but some basics are essential.

What they should understand when the training is completed:

The types of customers/clients you want. Who is your perfect client, or what demographic represents your most loyal customer? Either way, you should be able to define this in a way that is easily understood by your team.

The products and/or services you offer and how they work. Be specific. What are the features and advantages to your products?

What are the benefits of people using your products and services versus the competition’s? How do your products/services benefit the customer? Why should the customer want it?

What is the competition actually doing? Why is that an advantage for you?

Your team members should understand benefits of participating and/or the consequences of not participation. Reward/compensate them for taking part in sales.

What is the correct way to ask someone to spend their dollars with your organization/business? Asking for someone’s business is always an awkward situation for some sales people, much less those who do not sell things for a living. It is essential to teach them how to close the sale.

Got the ball rolling, now what?

Once everyone is engaged, it is important to constantly and consistently reiterate the process and program, track the results, and continue to look for more efficient/effective ways for them to participate. Communication is necessary, recognition is essential, and deliberate activity is imperative.

Be mindful that this, like so many other things in business, may not bring overnight results. But if you create and follow the process, exponential growth is not far behind. Good luck and Good growth!

If you should have any questions about these steps or want to share ideas on this topic, please feel free to email me at or post a comment below.


About wesherndon

CEO and Head Groove Master at Groove Web Marketing. You're welcome to follow, but be sure to make your own path as well. View all posts by wesherndon

2 responses to “More For Less: Teaching non-sales folks to sell.

  • T. Lavon Lawrence

    That is excellent! Back when I was in the corporate work-a-day world at Boeing, the most difficult concept for me to understand was the idea that I was personally responsible for the health and well-being of the company – that I had the power to contribute to the bottom line and increase profit even though I was not on any sales team. Wasn’t until I started a part time business that I ran during my off-work hours that it all began to sink in. The realization changed my whole approach to my day job, and that attitude shift transformed my relationship with the people I worked for. Went from mere employee to ‘participatory partner’ – from wage slave to ‘revenue generator’, helping to land contracts and attract business. Got raises, got promotions, all in a very short period of time. Strangely, when I tried to convey that new understanding to many of my co-workers, they avoided me like the plague, though they would constantly complain about not getting paid enough or not getting the recognition they assumed they deserved for merely showing up. This article is a very important one not only for business owners, but for managers and ESPECIALLY employees who should realize that they too have the power to make a profitable impact.

    • wesherndon

      There is definitely a huge difference in “working for a paycheck” versus “working for the company.” So many get trapped in the mentality that the employee/employer relationship is adversarial, it becomes detrimental to both parties. If you view it as a partnership, everyone stands to benefit.

      Thanks again for your comments and insight.
      Anyone interested in increasing your concentration and Mental fitness should definitely visit

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