The gulf between the salesperson and the customer is growing. Where the customer's product knowledge is increasing, the sales rep's ability to satisfy consumer curiosity is diminishing. The subsequent dialogue is one where questions about the product are answered inadequately and the brand is often misrepresented. The result is often a missed sale or a mismatch between the customer and the product which erodes brand loyalty.
Unaddressed, the touch-point experience is bound to get worse as customer knowledge increases and the sales rep remains inadequately prepared to talk the brand and connect with the consumer. Added to this, high staff turnover compounds the situation by bleeding away the essential knowledgebase within the company. This growing gulf can only be bridged by encouraging a climate where learning is standardized, brand-image oriented and, above all else, stimulating. The company that succeeds will enable its customer facing channels to establish meaningful brand dialogues with consumers, and experience fewer walk-a-ways.
The solution is to turn the sales team into brand ambassadors, professionals trained to match customer needs with relevant brand and product benefits. Two people entering a car showroom may both be drawn by a particular car's brand-quality attribute even though the customers may differ substantially in their demographic profiles. One may be a mother of two children who will react favorably if the car's safety features are highlighted. The other customer might be a young bachelor and talking about the performance of the car would be a better way to clinch the deal.
When it comes to lifestyle products such as MP3 players, differences may be more subtle but pivotal to the success of a sale. An authorized representative, or ambassador, would be trained to spot the demographic profile of a customer and accordingly would make the best choices and arguments to make the sale.
A successful brand ambassador will have a positive influence on the consumer's perception of a brand. This is done by intelligently "speaking" the brand, in line with media advertising. Vast sums are spent in developing a brand identity and this pervades many customers' buying decisions.
Often the first product a customer shows interest in reveals something of their character: inspirational, realistic or modest.
A Brand Ambassador Program (BAP) should guide the trainee on how to pick-up on these indicators and how to gain a deeper insight of this profile through a customer-centric sales dialogue.
Inviting customers to talk about themselves, their needs, and their preferences reveals critical information on how they relate to the core brand and which product attributes brought them to the buying table in the first place. The BAP should focus on how customers with differing profiles relate to the brand and the product. By doing so, the program significantly increases the selling professional's ability to select which product features to emphasize to successfully transform the dialogue into a deal.
Before BAP can be devised, the problems to be faced have to be understood to develop a process that will transform those who touch the customers into those who truly grasp the customers' needs. Technology has a strong role to play in keeping this message constant throughout an organization and in making the training unambiguous, resilient to staff changes and agile so it can be adapted to the ever-changing product lines in modern commerce. It is also essential to include a feedback loop so that the effectiveness of the program can be verified or modified.
An e-learning program should have four integrated elements and aims: to develop product selling content that is engaging, customer-centric and brand-based; have analytic tools to measure the impact of the initiative; be able to deliver interactive learning to a dispersed audience swiftly; and, importantly, the value of interacting with online learning content must be effectively communicated to the sales organization.
To make the package more compulsive, developing the BAP in partnership with the marketing department and the brand's advertising agency will ensure that content is creative, engaging and aligned with current advertising strategies. It also prevents unpleasant surprises. New products appear regularly and it would be a waste of money to develop a BAP only to find that the brand's message has changed.
An important consideration is to choose the software carefully. Successfully delivering BAP requires a well-integrated suite of flexible learning technologies that facilitate the development and delivery of brand knowledge. It is important that these capabilities bridge the gap between the company, distribution channels and potential customers seamlessly.
The primary metric of the BAP is its impact on deal conversion. Any training costs are accountable to the business and it is critical to monitor the return on investment. The suite must provide advanced features for measuring the BAP's impact on business results and accommodate change easily to fine-tune its effectiveness.
Gain an unfair competitive advantage in sales and distribution channels.
Your sales channels touch potential customers at their most vulnerable moment in the buying cycle -- the moment when they seek advice at the point-of-purchase. Most have a good idea of what they need, but are uncertain of which brand will provide it. Incidentally, this holds true for about 80 out of every 100 shoppers, including those influenced by advertising.
Most customers seeking word-of-mouth advice follow it. Consequently, if a sales person has little knowledge of your brand and cannot offer good advice, the prospect will likely ring someone else’s cash register.
That is how successful brands gain an unfair advantage. They work with CERTPOINT to expand the reach of their product and brand knowledge in sales channels, and they create effective BRAND AMBASSADORS.