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Create an “Everyone Sells” Culture


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always be selling

The common fault in the thinking of many entrepreneurs is that revenues will only be driven by the sales team and the sales team alone.  They put a lot of energy into hiring the best salespeople they can afford, training them up on their product or service, and then letting them loose and hoping for the best.  The problem with that way of thinking is that salespeople are only one part of the equation.

Oftentimes, a startup with 1-5 salespeople may have 10-50 employees, which means that your sales team only represents around 10% of your entire staff.  Wouldn’t it be better to come up with an “everyone sells” mentality within your company to get 100% of your staff helping you with your sales and marketing efforts?  And, in the process, get 90% more people helping you drive revenues?

I’m not suggesting that the other 90% need to drop everything they’re doing and stop focusing on their core role.  What I am saying is that all 100% of your staff have friends, families, colleagues from former employers, schoolmates, and other connections that are often very accessible by the employee’s social media followings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere.  So, help educate your entire staff on your products and services and give them the tools and messaging they’ll need to help spread the word with their connections.

A good marketing plan for a startup is to tap into the best resources possible, especially free low-hanging fruit, like the personal relationships of your staff.  The fact that a company message comes from a trusted friend will increase the odds of it being seen or acted upon.  And this not only means tapping into those friends alone, but their extended networks with socially viral “refer a friend” campaign efforts.  So, whether it’s via social media, personal phone calls or whatever the medium, the key is to get all your staff thinking about sales opportunities for your business.  And, once a lead is identified, then the sourcing employee can hand it off to the sales team to close and service from there, so it doesn’t become a distraction to them in their normal job.

Most startup employees are smart enough to know that the security of their next paycheck arriving on time is directly correlated to the revenues of the business coming in.  So, in addition to the natural drive for a startup employee to want to help the team succeed, there are personal reasons in the form of income and job security as well.  But, worth mentioning, this needs to be a proactive and fully communicated plan right from the beginning of your organization.  You don’t want this request to be interpreted as a time to panic or get employees looking for the door. Keep it as positive or early as you can in your lifecycle and not timed around bad news.

The last point here is to make sure you are celebrating your successes here, company-wide in your weekly meetings.  Call out key employees who helped to drive a new sale.  Or financially reward them with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or store.  Or create “employee of the month” programs with a framed picture of the staff member on the wall.  Or create a 10%-revenue share for all sales sourced by employees as an additional economic incentive for them.  All of this kind of stuff matters, both to the employee wanting to feel appreciated and to the company who is trying to stimulate a certain behavior or sales culture within the company.

So, tap into the full 100% of your staff in helping your company with its sales and marketing efforts in a way that does not distract them from their core role.  Celebrate and reward them for their successes here.

This article was originally published on RedRocket VC, a consulting and financial advisory firm with expertise in serving the start-up, digital and venture community.

Image credit: CC by DFAT photo library

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About the author: George Deeb

George Deeb is a managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a Chicago-based startup consulting and fundraising firm with expertise in advising Internet-related businesses. More of George’s startup lessons can be read at “101 Startup Lessons — An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.”

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