We wanted to understand how well companies are using customer data — purchasing behavior and preferences, focus group feedback and market research — to build their brand stories and train their front-line teams. Based on our research findings and our experience consulting with thousands of sales and marketing teams, here are a few tactics companies looking to align their brand message should consider:
— ASK QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU FULLY UNDERSTAND KNOWLEDGE GAPS. One organization we consulted serves as a case in point. All its sales and customer service teams were required to attend a two-and-a-half-hour training session that covered technical details about the technology hardware they’d be using to sell products, but defined no clear value proposition. At every turn, people told us the same thing: “We don’t get the message we’re supposed to be communicating about the product.”
We created bite-sized training materials to fill knowledge gaps, one-sheets with infographics, and bullets describing the information they were missing or confused about. Those accessible bits of knowledge, vetted by select front-line reps, were easy for sales reps to consume and became effective vehicles for quick learning.
— CUSTOMIZE TRAINING BASED ON TEAM FEEDBACK. Sometimes the materials themselves aren’t the problem. Sometimes the problem is how those materials are being delivered. By regularly asking employees for input and showing them that it will be put into action, companies can also build environments of trust and gain worker loyalty. In the end, structure, consistency and follow-up create reliable ways to gather feedback from front-line teams.
FOCUS ON BUILDING CONFIDENCE. Confidence in telling a brand story determines how successful conversations on the front lines will be. Sales reps and customer success advocates who feel prepared to have in-depth conversations with clients consistently outperform those who don’t.
Empowering employees to be a part of that story and to experience the brand they represent in their own way builds confidence and competence in a way that pushing information cannot. When organizations establish guidelines for how the brand should treat customers and give employees the ability to put their own authentic stamp on the interaction within those guidelines, they’re nimbler, more customer-centric and higher-performing.