If you were a rancher during the Old West, branding was easy. Your hands from the ranch heated carefully bent iron pieces and then pressed them slowly to the sides of naive or unaware calves. The brand linked your cattle (a commodity) to your ranch, so the cattle could be claimed as your own when you round up.
In the fields of banking, consulting, and many other fields, marketing managers wear the rancher’s hat investing millions of dollars researching and creating brand imagery to ignite the branding fires.
Brand Delivery Failure
In many cases, however, the current branding procedure breaks down at the final step when the brand is applied. Why? Because the brands aren’t distributed in the field by sales representatives. Businesses have left the final step in the branding process to chance, stating, “We hold salespeople accountable for their results, not for how they produce them.”
This is a brand-related failure. If each salesperson has their unique methods of working with customers and making sales, the sales team is building an individual portfolio of brands rather than one consistent brand that you can use for all of your customers. If this occurs:
Customers are confused by your marketing message and the reason they should be your customers.
Your business is at risk when customers leave key sales reps. Customers may choose to follow the consultant or sales rep they liked since that person and not your company is the one who represents your brand for them.
Each rep you place into the field takes an approach that is different from the previous one and can cause confusion for your brand’s message.
Steps to Impress Your Brand
Four steps will allow you to maximize your brand exposure on the ground, ensuring that your clients are permanently and in a positive relationship with you.
Step 1: Transform your brand’s image into a full description of the distinctive customer experience that is representative of your brand to the customers you want to attract.
For instance, if you want to portray your salespersons in the role of “trusted advisors” to your clients, you must explain the experience of an advisor who is trusted from the perspective of the client. It is important to develop clear and concise statements of expectations from the client regarding responsiveness, credibility, competence tangibles (like informative brochures), and personal connections.
Step 2. Define the sales techniques, procedures, processes, actions, and behaviors required to create an experience that is unique for customers, which includes:
If these tasks are to be performed,
Whom they will be completed,
When they’ll be completed as well as
What they’re going to do.
For example, do you send a confirmation agenda prior to the meeting? Send thank-you notes and follow-up emails after-sales calls? If yes, what kind and types of calls? What should the notes contain? What should they look like? What information should they include? When should the next meeting occur?
The descriptions should contain specific guidelines regarding what your representative should say on an interview in which they should present your business’s value proposition as well as how they conduct their interviews, the presentation materials they employ and how they utilize them, as well as how they draft proposals. Large consulting and accounting companies, for instance, have standards for practice that outline these aspects. Other service businesses that are committed to their branding of services like Federal Express, McDonald’s, and British Airways also have established guidelines.
Step 3: Create ways to determine if the service is being provided and if the customers are satisfied with it.
Take note of every angle that could affect the customer experience as well as the delivery of sales reps. How? Direct observation by managers is a powerful method. The ability to survey customers via interviews or surveys using pencil and paper (“Why did you choose to purchase from us or not purchase from us”) can be useful.
Step 4: Always scrutinize and make any necessary corrections.
Consistency is essential to build the value of a brand. You’ll surely hear complaints about “you’re micromanaging us,” the message to sales representatives will be, “We’ve created a name and method of marketing (delivering this brand) which will generate income for us all. We’re asking you to follow this method. We’ll show you our method of selling so that you can succeed and that our business succeeds. We’re seeking a united, consistent voice for markets.”
Benefits of Consistency
There are three major advantages to this method:
The company is more able to take advantage of the value of its brand because the company defines it, not consultants or salespeople. This creates institutional brand equity instead of personal brand equity.
You will be able to identify and fix breakdowns and issues faster since there is a clearly understood and well-defined “right way” that you are evaluating and coaching.
Changes can be made faster and more frequently (when your clients tell them they’d like changes) If everyone uses the same branding procedure.
If you do it correctly and consistently, you’ll be certain that your company’s image will leave an impression on both your prospects and customers.