Compared to just one generation ago, the average US workplace has changed significantly. Where lifelong careers used to be commonplace, average tenures are now in low single figures, and recruiting from talent pools that are open to change brings unique challenges.
The trouble is, the principles of good service don’t change. Your sales team represents the point where your business meets potential customers – and if you want to create positive relationships with those customers, you need to create a consistency that’ll follow that customer through every interaction they have with your company.
So, what do you do when the only thing you can consistently rely on is change? What can you do to continue to maximize customer relationships when sales professionals move on so frequently? How can Salesforce ensure you deliver exactly what the customer’s expecting – even if they have to talk to someone new?
The Workplace Landscape
In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average tenure for workers age 35 to 44 was less than five years. Step that age bracket down to 25 to 34, and that figure becomes three years.
Like it or not, people are considering their job roles and career options as being more fluid than ever before. As managers and team leaders, we need to accept that this presents a less-than-ideal situation for our front-line operations – and start working out how we create and maintain a seamless customer experience in spite of frequent departures.
It’s hard to overstate quite how important that experience is. Today, customers have the whole world at their fingertips – so if your service isn’t what they expect, it’s never been easier to simply move to a company that gets it right.
Establishing Team Continuity
Even with a powerful tool like Salesforce at your disposal, creating a workplace culture that places significant importance on continuity in the sales process requires some investment of time.
If you feel like allocating resources is going to be difficult, you might want to consider the alternative. Ultimately, creating the right customer experience is going to involve time – you just have to decide whether you want to spend that time creating the building the customer journey you want – or spend it trying to rescue deals and save your company’s face when a salesperson leaves, and the customer’s experience hits the rocks.
Of course, it’s not just your company’s reputation you’re going to be saving when you put effort into creating a culture of continuity. Finessing your process will almost certainly have a positive impact on your bottom-line. After all, would you rather be repairing a relationship? Or nurturing an already positive relationship, knowing that it’ll become a repeat order, an upsell, or a referral?
Ensuring Team Continuity During Transitions
When change happens, the seamless journey that your customer’s going to experience brings only positives for the business – but what kind of obstacles are you likely to run into from employees that don’t share your company overview.
Too often, there’s a disconnect between teams and departments. For instance, how many times have vital pieces of information not been passed to your account managers from your sales reps? Do rivalry and jealousy rear their heads when departments are expected to collaborate? Or do you just find that different processes mean communication and understanding between teams becomes labored?
This is where your business overview needs to be understood by all. At any given moment, one of your team members represents the entire company to your customers. That customer doesn’t care about the pain points that occur between departments or when people leave – they care about a smooth and successful interaction with your company, nothing more.
Sharing the vision of an extraordinary customer process might seem fruitless initially, but when the benefits of world-class collaboration begin to be felt across departments, you’ll find employees are increasingly keen to buy-in and promote that culture. When they do, they’ll push for memorable customer experiences that turn into sales results – rather than playing a blame-game or fighting for hollow victories over their colleagues.
Putting the right tools in place
While attitude and shared goals are going to be the driving force behind a culture of collaboration and continuity, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got the right tools and processes in place to remove any hurdles.
Make sure you’re logging every conversation and interaction your team has with other team members. To do so, think about a searchable company communication tool – like Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams.
Implementing a tool like this won’t just save countless hours of manually searching through email conversations – you can also trace back and look at why decisions have been made what information has been passed between departments.
Maintain an open team culture
It’s absolutely vital that your team culture is open – so issues can be discussed between you, sales managers, team members, and new sales reps. The phrase “There’s no such thing as a silly question” might be nothing new – but it’s an ethos that eliminates confusion and incorrect practice quickly.
Build a customer journey map
Creating a map that shows the ideal customer journey doesn’t just create a basis for exceptional sales training, it helps every member of your team understand where a particular customer is should they need to step into the process.
A defined journey also helps you to understand where your sales cycle can be improved and how individual salespeople are performing. For instance, if one team member is particularly strong at prospecting, that know-how can be tapped into by sales leaders to improve everyone’s performance. On the other hand, if there’s a part of the sales strategy where conversions are falling behind, this can be explored, and continuous improvements can be made.
Put a clear process in place for when an employee goes on vacation or leaves the company
To complement your sales journey, you’ll want to make sure there are clear processes at every step – so customer information is immediately to hand if someone new has to step in. Create deadlines and goals for all pending tasks – so there’s no ‘best-guessing’ at what should come next should you be faced with employee absences of any kind.
And if a member of your sales team does leave the company, make sure there’s a plan in place to manage the Salesforce records previously assigned to them. That includes leads, contacts, accounts and – perhaps most importantly – opportunities.
Sadly, we’ve seen what happens when a salesperson leaves and their Salesforce records are ignored. One of our clients lost potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales because of deals in the pipeline that were simply forgotten. That was our first objective once they brought us in to optimize their Salesforce instance.
You need to ensure that contacts and accounts get reassigned to an appropriate rep. Leads must be transferred to someone who has the bandwidth to follow-up right away. And there needs to be a smooth transition for opportunities where a potential deal is being discussed.
That might just require going into Salesforce and transferring ownership of records. But if you’re sales organization is either complex or you’d like to be able to systematically and automatically transfer records, a custom solution might be best.
Make it all about the customer
Losing a salesperson can dramatically change the dynamic of the team – but don’t assume it’s only employees who’ll feel unsettled. Customers can strike up great working relationships with salespeople very quickly – and losing someone they’re used to dealing with can increase the relationship tension with your company.
If you have the luxury of a notice period with the departing member of the team, make sure this time is focused on passing customers smoothly to remaining members of the team. If the transition is more sudden, have someone in senior sales management (or your CEO) talk to the customer and introduce the new salesperson.
The result? Your client doesn’t just continue smoothly on their journey – they’ll often feel even more valued than before.
Give your team the right tools to stay on the same page
If you want to make sure your salespeople can pick up immediately where another left off, you need a tool to that aligns perfectly with the journey you’ve created for your customer.
Salesforce gives you this ability. Not only can you customize the overall sales process from the outset – you can create tasks through every step, integrating with each of your company’s applications for lightning-fast referencing from one central location.
Learning to Embrace Change
As the Harvard Business Review points out; employees identify with and care about the organization they work for. If things work in their current set-up, the kind of change that comes when someone leaves can be enormously disruptive – shaking the foundations of individuals and teams and how they identify themselves.
So, how do you help people to embrace this kind of change?
Rather than focusing on what’s going to be different – encourage a focus on what’s going to stay the same. Clearly, defined processes and approaches like the ones suggested here work incredibly well to give people familiarity and predictability against which they can anchor themselves.
Help people to understand that change will happen – but when it does, you’re an organization that isn’t just equipped for it – but also sees opportunities for excellence in the transitions. As the BLS figures prove, there’s no escaping change – but when you build your company ethos around it, it’s no longer something that should be feared, but instead, a defining characteristic of your business that raises you head and shoulders above your competition.
Creating a Culture of Change
With the right tools and a team that understands the opportunity that comes from the kind of changes that occurs when people leave the team, you create a workplace that thrives when the going-gets-tough.
Of course, it’s vital that in your role as a leader, you’re absolutely confident that you and your team are fully equipped for the potential turbulence that can come when a resignation letter lands on your desk. Create the right culture, then talk to us here at StarrData about how we can help you implement, optimize, and administer Salesforce to align your customer journey, your teams, and your business goals.
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