Sales soar when staff know the difference they make

Mar 3, 2013 | Best practice, Corporate culture, retail trends

Want to increase sales or enrolments? Don’t rely on top-down leadership alone. Make sure that your contact staff understand the emotional needs of the prospect and see the difference that their efforts make.

According to Fast Company, it’s all about ensuring that your employees know and care about the effect of their efforts has upon the beneficiary.

A forthcoming study by Adam Grant  from Wharton found that the vision of transformational leadership passed down from above needs to be grounded – and that meeting the beneficiary of your daily work (the customer) provides much needed reinforcement of the broader vision. “(Executive) rhetoric alone may not be sufficient…transformational leadership is most effective in motivating followers when they interact with the beneficiaries of their work”.

Fast Company is more direct in their interpretation of Grant’s study. According to Fast Company’s Anya Kamenetz, “Motivational talk from higher-ups is just that – talk. If you want better sales and revenue, make sure your employees know who it is their work benefits”.

Whilst this might be a new finding, at its core it’s not an entirely new idea. Nor is it restricted to internal cultural benefits.
Whilst Grant’s study focused upon internal beneficiaries, there is much to be said for the knock-on commercial effect of this approach. In its simplest form, it is the age-old notion that…

“Management takes care of the staff, the staff take care of the customers and the sales take care of themselves”.

…It might be old-school but it is far from outdated.

It is a philosophy that sits at the heart of some of the world’s most successful operations. It is as relevant to retail operations as it is to the higher education sector, and to pure online enterprises. It is a old as the late (and great) Steven Covey and as young as Tony Hseh  – and it is one of the defining qualities of a service-oriented business.

Understanding that you make a difference has enormous power. However, simply meeting the beneficiaries of your efforts is not enough. Certainly from a Higher Ed perspective, the common emotional need that unites a group of prospective students or customers is easily lost in weeks of product training and the individual circumstance of each in a fast-moving stream of prospect enquiries.

Creating a clear living picture of the customer – which involves a sympathetic explanation of their challenges, motivations, vulnerabilities and triumphs – creates the empathy that allows for truly genuine service and adds broader significance to daily activities for those at the coalface.

It sends an interesting message for those who maintain that brand no longer has a place in a digital world or that the evolution of online sales strikes a relentless path toward a world without the cost and complexity of human interaction.