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Internal marketing: Empowering employees to win with customers

December 4, 2020 -  By
Businesspeople in meeting (Photo: Jirapong Manustrong/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Photo: Jirapong Manustrong/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Every employee’s work impacts customers in some way.

As legendary sales trainer Zig Ziglar put it, “I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if you deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.”

Selling is a skill that can be learned, but it requires training and daily interaction with customers. For the majority of employees, interaction with customers is limited.

An alternative approach is internal marketing training. In most companies, internal marketing is seldom practiced, if it is done at all. We recently launched an internal marketing training and coaching program at Landscape Digital Institute, and the results are encouraging.

Research shows that employees are most committed to an organization when they feel their everyday efforts are aligned with its mission. That’s the primary goal of internal marketing: to align the behavior customers see from a company’s employees with the message they hear from its external marketing.

As anyone in sales or marketing knows, what’s relevant to customers varies throughout their customer journey. Including discovering, acquiring and continuing to use a company’s products and services, customer needs will change.

Are employees crystal clear about the stages of the customer journey and how each one fulfills the promise of the company’s core message? This understanding informs employee actions, making mission-driven behavior instinctive.

Customers intuitively sense when internal and external marketing are aligned. They know they’re aligned when they ask questions, such as, “What’s next?” and get a response without hesitation.

How to build internal marketing training

Consistent growth requires a defined customer journey with milestones that mark progress and touchpoints that guide that journey. A transparent process gives customers confidence that they are on a safe path to where they want to go, and it empowers team members to guide the process.

It helps to think of the customer journey in terms of stages that achieve key milestones. For example, the first milestone could be a discovery meeting that leads to determining the scope of a project and possibly signing a design agreement or letter of intent.

Knowing these steps gives all employees who support that stage clarity about the outcome. It also empowers them to answer questions and guide customers down the path you’d like them to go. Understanding what should happen after a milestone is achieved and who will be involved equips them to satisfy customers.

In my monthly Communication Coach blog for Landscape Management, I recently discussed how customer case studies can be invaluable training assets. Debriefing and documenting your successes and failures is vitally important for refining your process and internally marketing it. (Editor’s Note: Read the blog here: Communication Coach: The best sales training book)

In addition to clarifying and enhancing the customer journey, these case studies are a rich source of stories, selling techniques and lessons. They’re often invaluable for winning new customers who find them relatable.

Employees accept that they are doing a good job when customers are happy. What they need help with is understanding the bigger picture, such as how the company defines an ideal customer and what its core message or promise means to them.

This is marketing. If put to the test, many business owners and marketing managers might be challenged with communicating this to customers. It takes practice.

Why not practice them with your team members to get everyone on board? Not just once or twice but on a regular basis, just as you probably do with safety training.

When employees know not just what they do but why it matters, it’s sure to create more wins for customers and help recruit like-minded team members.

This article is tagged with , and posted in 1220, Business, Current Issue, From the Magazine
Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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