Mark Amtower

OPINION

Who needs sales and BD training? Everyone

All employees play a role in selling a company's goods and services

We’ve all heard the adage “selling is everyone’s job.” With the shrinking government budget, not only is selling everyone’s job, but so are marketing, business development and taking out the garbage.

Sales, marketing and BD departments are being downsized while companies try to figure out how to do much more with fewer key people in place.

First, management must take an active role in promoting the idea that each employee now wears more than one hat.

So how are you supposed to actually do more with less?

There are probably several legitimate answers to this question, but I will address two simple things you can do: educate your employees and leverage social media.

Educating your employees about your business is something that should already be in place. Regardless of what each employee does, everyone should be educated on what your company provides to the government and how you sell it.

Sounds simple, right? But how many companies actually do this? Surprisingly few.

Internal education can be live, webinar-based, brown bag lunches, and the like, and these should occur regularly. Have the specialists in each area prepare presentations for each discipline. Attendance must be mandatory.

Part of the education process should include helping non-sales and marketing staff become comfortable when sharing the message. Teach people to give short, coherent elevator pitches on what your company does. Without this part of the training, your employee may try to recite your mission statement when a few words would suffice.

This is important because regardless of where you go, you are likely to find potential partners and prospects, others your company can either work with or work for. I often wear a Government Market Master logo shirt, which gets some people curious enough to ask me about it. My original Amtower & Company shirt had a circle with a red slash through it, and the word “doubt” was in the circle: Amtower & Company- No Doubt. That would often prompt questions that I loved to answer.

I have met potential prospects at church, at school functions (my son is in high school) and in my own neighborhood. In the D.C. area, working for the government or for a government contractor is common. It can happen across the country, especially in any of the 28 major metro areas designated as a federal hub city, or around any significant military base.

The ability to share a few cogent thoughts on what your business does can lead to a business relationship. If your administrative assistant is trained properly, he or she could well do a little business development activity at a high school sporting event. There is always down time during events, time to strike up a conversation with someone new. And it almost always includes a question about ‘what you do’.

Your employees and co-workers should be trained and encouraged to do so.

The same is true for social media activity. Anyone who reads my column or sees me speak knows that I am a proponent of LinkedIn. I consider LinkedIn to be the place to be for business social networking, second to none.

That being said, there is Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and many other social networking platforms. Dropping an occasional thought on these other platforms about your business (a contract win, sharing some news item, etc) can lead to an inquiry about what your company does.

Even in LinkedIn groups not core to your business (college alumni groups, geographically focused groups, etc), the same thing can occur.

Starting the conversation, or answering the question, is step one. Sharing it internally and passing along the contact is step two. Most of us have done step one several times, but perhaps we forget to pass along a potential lead. Encourage people to do so and reward them when it leads to new business.

If you are capable of answering accurately and quickly, you really never know where it might take you.

 

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.

Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 AshlynnCurtis Australia

Every business organization requires sales training. It is imperative that a business should have well-trained sales staff. This is such a great resource that you have provided and you give it away for free. http://www.criticalmoments.com.au/d DOT isc-profile-services.php

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 Amtower

Thanks for the feedback and ideas- good stuff! I was afraid this article would be a little "bland", but it has also struck a nerve in several LinkedIn groups.

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

Great points Mark. It always amazes me when I work with PMs for companies, currently onsite and working on government contracts, who either have no desire or training in government sales and BD. They have established relationships with clients, have insider knowledge, and are in the best position to expand their products and services, or find new opportunities that put them in the driver’s seat versus their competitors. The other side of the coin is the PM who does have BD and sales metrics as part of their performance, but do not have the training or skills to understand how to accomplish these goals. It always makes me cringe when they are running around last minute trying to achieve these metrics, as it is always obvious what they are trying to do, but have no clue how.

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 David Parker

I am in the market research department at my company-- Centurion Research Solutions-- and I was pretty jazzed when I read this because I just got done watching a great webinar Centurion had on "Business Development for Line Managers: Creating a Sales-Oriented Organization". You can check it out at our blog http://bit.ly/UaNgqr ... Nothing like immediate application.

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 Les Shobe Seal Beach

AGree. Its called "Lunch & Learn" in some venues. Unfortunately the best I've attended have been in a room designed for media presentation. It encourages people to try to be convincing. Set-up in a non media environment is a chore if done weekly. But the Message is clear. Involve "everyone". Make it voluntary for speakers, Involve suppliers, and make it mandatory if there are no "springbutts" coming forward. Encourage those who never speak.

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