The True Driving Force Behind Branding
With all of the time, energy, money and resources spent on branding a PEO, how much of your new business comes from your web portal? Your brand is being emitted from the mouth and actions of your sales force and reaffirmed by the execution of your operations team.
Please know that I am in no way discounting the need for appropriate corporate branding. Brand management acts as the guiding light for internal personnel and help orchestrate the message being delivered to your prospective clientele. However, I’ve seen expense and effort on creating a successful brand, logo, font type, color scheme etc. be diminished by an improperly equipped sales professional.
Let’s take a moment to have a fun and potentially enlightening comparison to illustrate this point. For this exercise, we will simply contrast how simple items within a sales presentation may be conveyed to your prospective clientele.
|Poor Branding Example||Successful Branding Example|
|“We have cheaper pricing”||“Our pricing is in line with your ability to perform. We’ll navigate you towards cost efficiency”|
|“This is what our PEO offers”||“Once we understand what your company is looking to achieve, we will illustrate how we can help you expedite that process or point you in the right direction”|
|“We can help you stay in compliance”||“We’ll help remove legality issues to protect your organizational assets”|
|“We can create your manuals/policies”||“Together, we will build your written programs designed to be the foundation of your operating platform”|
|“We have an online HR library”||“Our HR resources will provide you with insight into the complexities of employment regulation and we will guide your team through the process”|
|“Referral Partner: give us a shot on one of your accounts so that we can show you how we can save your clients money”||“Referral Partner: our deliverables act as a differentiator for your organization at zero expense. With high retention rates, we will drive results to your clients while offloading overhead within your organization and create a residual revenue stream to your company”|
|“We deliver a lot of services for the price”||“We have knowledge and experience in your industry. Our macro vantage point on the vertical allows our team to guide your organization towards efficiency to drive a high ROI”|
Please note, this article is not written to provide “word tracks” to sell. The above example is simply used as an illustration of the feel a prospect gets when dealing with a sales professional. The truth is that without extensive knowledge and high business acumen, your sales professional, regardless of their verbiage, will not achieve the ultimate brand your company is looking to drive.
A PEO’s brand is based on the quality of results the offering drives to its clientele. Successful deliverables through an appropriate platform, driven by topnotch personnel create a meaningful and impactful experience with a customer base. If a PEO’s offering is not in line with a customer’s needs, branding will suffer. If the platform is appropriate but not adequately executed upon, branding will suffer. When a PEO’s platform and personnel are elite and work in harmony, a PEO is ready to go to market.
The influence of Sales
It is now the sales professional’s job to clearly illustrate the value their organization brings to the table. When this is done appropriately, the branding on the PEO and business relationship improve. For example, here are a few areas where an appropriately handled sales process will create the following results to drive a positive brand:
- Improved company branding
- Appropriately set expectations
- Smooth transition from sales to operations
- Thorough understanding of the client’s needs
- This will set your service team up for success and outline the service platform and parmaters of the relationship based on your customer’s needs
- This will drive your pricing model by understanding the commitment and work based on your service plan
- Position for future referrals
- Create confidence in your referral partners
- Set appropriate expectations with your referral partners for future business
Now let’s contrast the above with some areas where an inappropriately handled sales process will drive inferior results:
- Negative and incompetent company branding
- Poorly setting relationship expectations (assuming the account is written)
- Disjointed transition from sales to service operations
- Lack of understanding with the client’s needs and expectations
- This will hinder a service team’s ability to drive results and create friction between the service team and the client’s point of contact(s)
- Pricing will be based on a general guideline and the account may not yield the appropriate GP commensurate with the amount of work delivered. This can/will also allow companies with a propensity for tail liability to enter the PEO’s client portfolio
- Detract from future referrals
- Confirm with referral partners that a PEO is a secondary market
- Create poor expectations with referral partners which will equate to a quality reduction in future submissions
Branding Success Through Sales and Operations
Sales is instrumental in the branding of your company. Conversely, operations and your ability to execute will ultimately carry more weight long-term with your clientele. If your PEO wrote every business it met with, then this article would be more focused on the operations side of the house instead of sales. We both know that is not the case and conservatively, let’s assume that a PEO writes one out of every 5 businesses it meets with.
IMPORTANT: This means that your operations team only has the ability to impact your brand on 20% of the prospects that encounter your firm. The impression the remaining 80% have is based on your sales professional’s ability to convey your company appropriately.
These figures do not include the word of mouth and social media trail that can be created by a dissatisfied prospect, but those figures are more difficult to quantify. I bring it up solely for the purpose of reminding PEOs that there is a perpetuating ripple affect with branding, both positive and negative in impact based on the experience.
The takeaway that I hope you get from the subject matter we just covered is simple. While it is important for sales professionals to produce, please do not discount the equal importance of their ability to brand your company effectively. Future production will be impacted by the message your sales force is driving today.
Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc. a management consulting company with a heavy emphasis on the PEO space. BRCI’s platform includes: PEO Sales Consulting, M&A Due Diligence, PEO Acquisition Sourcing, Channel Partner Consulting and Talent Acquisition. For more information, please visit www.biz-rc.com