A customer-facing employee who knows nothing about the product he or she is selling can be found out within minutes. An employee who doesn’t believe in the product can continue in the same mode for years — but not without cost.
This dangerous status quo is surprisingly common. While companies are anxiously noticing that they’re failing to connect with customers, they find themselves repeating the same old processes.
Back in the day, a company’s training department ensured salespeople were knowledgeable. They were designed to serve the economy as it existed decades ago when customers lacked information. Oddly enough, we’re still acting as though that’s the case and using the same methods despite the wealth of information customers can access at all times.
Today, people expect companies to set themselves and their products apart by offering “intangibles” like a sense of experience, relatability, and purpose. It’s no longer just about the product; it’s about what comes with it.
If that’s going to become a reality, companies have to provide the best possible service to customers and need to ensure front-line employees are wholeheartedly “buying” the story they’re selling.
According to the PwC study “Experience Is Everything,” customers are willing to pay up to 16% more when they perceive their experience as high-quality. So, it’s imperative that front-line employees believe in the brand story so they can share it with customers.
If a company is making promises front-line employees don’t believe in, it inevitably fails to deliver that high-quality experience customers are seeking. Brands become, at best, messy and diluted. Even worse, they fail to live up to customer expectations and lose business to competitors.
I’ve helped companies launch security and automation services. They required heavy training, which took front-line employees away from their work for days at a time to learn the facts and minutiae of the products they were about to start selling.
At the end of training, the problem wasn’t that employees didn’t know the facts; it was that they didn’t know how to turn those facts into a compelling, cohesive story. The wave of details they took in led to overload, knocking their confidence to the point that they didn’t think they could sell the products in a way that customers would understand.
However, when brand representatives started hearing stories about customers who were using this product to make their lives better and safer every day, they began to believe it for themselves.
It can be difficult to see the problem clearly at first — or even to see a problem at all. After all, employees talk the talk. If you looked at a transcript of their interactions with customers, you wouldn’t find fault with their knowledge. A more focused review might show a clear lack of belief, though.
If you can engage employees in dialogue, they’ll start representing your brand and products in a more compelling way. Their investment in the messaging will strengthen them, give them confidence, and help them deliver an experience that far surpasses reciting facts without passion.