That’s right, you heard me. It is time to start selling not only to your customer but to your employee. In fact, if you really want to improve sales, selling to your employees is often the best way to do it.
If you are reading between the lines, you may have realized that I am not talking about selling your employees the same product as your customers but a very different product, let’s call it “employment.”
Many business owners I have worked with view the different roles in business as completely different “hats.” This is a common view, thanks in large part to the book “The E-Myth.” I really enjoyed this book and find it very relevant for any business owner. However, the challenge created by this viewpoint is a misinterpretation of what it means to change hats or roles.
To change “hats” simply means it’s time to change which product you are selling and to whom. Instead of widgets to customer A, it is employment to employee B. Now, are their other roles? sure. Somebody needs to do the web programming or prep and send mail or whatever it might be. If you don’t think it should be you, then prep the “sell” of programming to the employee or staffer that you would like to do it. Sell em’!
Do not think you are entitled to their labor since you give them a pay check. You need their help more than you need the paycheck.
Do you ever expect customers to buy from you over and over just because they bought once? Are you entitled to the continued patronage and can you treat a customer however you want because they owe you having delivered your product or service?
Um… no unfortunately not.
Your delivery of a product or service to a customer is no different than your delivery of a paycheck to an employee. Just because you delivered one doesn’t mean they will continue to work with you or even have to. Without good customer service and experiences, your customer will leave looking for greener pastures. The same goes for your employees. Don’t ever think they have to stick with you; there are others willing to sell them employment…
The key… there is really only one “hat” that is used in different scenarios. That hat is sales. The difference is to know which product you are to sell and to whom in any given scenario.
So what is the product to be sold to employees?
Employment is your product. It includes not only the paycheck but other perks such as work environment, scheduling, a good (or bad) boss, punishments, etc. There are many components to this product. The goal is to improve the quality of your product so it may not only garner “sales” in the form of employees but repeat customers and higher prices in the form of lower employee turnover and better employee performance.
So what do you get for selling employment?
Your currency is time, energy, focus, productivity, loyalty, all wrapped up in employee performance.
If you are a good salesman and have a better employment product, you can “charge” more for it in the form of these different currencies. If an employee is unwilling to part with some of these, they simply do not see your employment product as worth it. They feel it is overpriced. That doesn’t mean they leave. In most cases, it means they will simply pay you less (less time, productivity, loyalty, etc.).
Why do they pay less? Why is my employee performance always poor? Typically 2 reasons: They either are the wrong “customer” or your product is not worth the price you charge in their eyes.
An example of reason 1, of the “wrong customer,” I love watches. I am willing to pay far more for a watch than my wife would like. Spending over $1,000 for a watch doesn’t strike me as odd or overpriced (depending on the watch of course). For others, that is too much regardless of the watch. They are unwilling to spend more than $100 for a watch. If you offer them a very well built, expensive watch, they will still only pay you $100. They are just the wrong customer and it matters little what you do to make the watch better, it just isn’t in the cards for them to ever bite on what you expect for the watch.
Sometimes, business owners feel they have a phenomenal employment product worth much more time, energy, loyalty and production but simply have the wrong employee, selling to the wrong market. The employee will never increase performance above the $100 mark, they don’t see the point. Learn your market to overcome this issue.
You wouldn’t sell baby buggies to 16 year old boys in heavy metal bands, why do we try to sell employment the same way?
Example of reason 2, if you try to charge me $1000 for a cheaply built watch, I won’t buy, even though I am a watch lover. The product is overpriced in my opinion. Maybe to you, it is different. Maybe you built this watch with your own two hands. It means a lot to you since it is the first watch you ever created; so in spite of its flaws, it is priceless. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that much to me and you will likely never get me to see it as that valuable. I might even see why it is valuable to you but those reasons do not translate to me. I didn’t make it, therefore I don’t get that satisfaction out of it.
Business owners struggle with this issue often. They often expect employees to value their jobs as much as the owner does. Well, it doesn’t translate. They expect too much for what they give in the form of employment. That doesn’t mean wage alone. In fact, wage is lower on the totem pole (although still very much important). It often means other benefits, autonomy, control, participation in the creative process, etc. If the product performs poorly, it is worth much less. With employment, this includes systems and processes to follow, clarity on purpose, results expectations, and proper reward systems. If these perform poorly, it is like the poor performing watch. Even if it is made out of diamond encrusted solid-gold, if it can’t keep time at all, its functional value decreases considerably. I might keep it since it is gold but I won’t wear it. Just as I might keep the job because it pays well but I won’t necessarily give my all.
Are there bad employees or just bad sales?
This is where it gets interesting… when you have bad employees, or even better, simply some bad employee behaviors, is it their fault or just bad sales? If an employee is truly sold on their job, the number of issues is inconsequential. If I am sold on a watch, I don’t neglect or abuse it. I cherish it. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you cherish something, you treat it differently. If we can sell our employment products in such a way that they are cherished, even at higher costs (time, energy, and loyalty), employees will treat them differently and stay as repeat customers of them.
Take a tech startup as an example.
Most startups pay mediocre wages. They don’t have the sales and size to justify higher wages yet. On top of that, their employment products are very costly in the form of long hours, expected evangelism for the company, supreme dedication, and more. All of that for little pay. How does that work?? Well, the employees are sold very well as they should be. The employment opportunity has a lot of other features beyond pay such as opportunity to participate in the excitement of a startup and truly build something. These features are simply pointed out appropriately to the employee. It’s part of the sale. They end up with many very dedicated, happy employees and they pay lower wages and expect more from their employees than you do!
In the end, keeping happy productive employees is a function of sales. If you are a good salesman with a good employment product, you will be able to build a loyal, dedicated team of employees that will help you sell on the other end, where the revenue is generated.