I hate it when I see people say things like “Every employee is a sales person,” “a marketer,” or a “customer service rep.” The intent may be to emphasize how every employee must be committed to customers and company goals, but organizations specialize into departments, teams, and roles for a good reason.

We do not need every employee doing every other employees’ jobs. Instead, we need leaders who foster a smart organizational structure, set the right goals, and encourage strong customer focus. And we need engaged, empowered employees who bring deep expertise to their interactions with customers.

The problem with encouraging every employee to act like a marketer, salesperson or service rep is that it can force employees out of comfort zones and create a misalignment of metrics, rewards, and goals, all of which diminishes efficiency, increases risks and reduces business outcomes.

For example, what happens when every employee is a “sales person?” You get service reps who do not let people cancel their cable subscription because they are rewarded for something other than responding rapidly and comprehensively to customer needs. Or bank tellers who receive bonuses for opening accounts customers do not need, diminishing customer trust and brand reputation.

What happens when every employee becomes a “marketer”? Employees may take it upon themselves to represent the brand without authority, training or oversight, resulting in incorrect and disjointed messages. This raises risks, as employees cannot be expected to understand FTC rules around disclosure of material relationships, the legal subtleties between lawful and unlawful product claims, or the regulatory restrictions of marketing in some industries.

And what happens when every employee is a “customer service rep”? Employees, with the best of intentions, can take it upon themselves to answer customer questions in social media, resulting in incorrect or conflicting answers and creating confusion as to the appropriate channels in which customers can expect efficient and accurate support.

No, every employee is not a marketer, salesperson and service rep. Brands are strongest when each employee is held to the expectations of their unique role, delivering the specific outcomes expected. Of course, that does not mean that employees cannot be trained and even encouraged within carefully prescribed limits to assist and support sales, marketing or customer care, but that must be done prudently to ensure every employee is committed first and foremost to the deliverables of their role.

Marketers market, helping prospects become better informed about brands, products, and services that deliver necessary solutions and producing awareness, consideration, qualified leads and sometimes sales for the brand. Salespeople sell, assisting customers in higher-consideration verticals to make the right purchase decisions for their unique needs and delivering profitable customers that are prepped for long-term brand success. And customer service reps offer support, helping customers to use the product or service they purchased, resulting in customers who are satisfied and loyal. If marketers, salespeople and service reps do their jobs well, the result is a powerful, relationship-building experience for customers and profitable growth for brands.

In football, if all the players on the field believe they are the quarterback, then every play will be chaos and the team will lose. Help your employees to understand their role, reward them for the proper outcomes, foster high employee engagement and collaboration, and encourage a customer-first mentality, and your organization will move downfield efficiently and score more points.

3 Comments
  1. August 22, 2017 at 9:33 pm
    Hank Barnes says:

    Ah yes http://blogs.gartner.com/hank-barnes/2013/12/17/we-are-not-all-marketers/

    • August 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm
      Augie Ray says:

      I don’t know if I should be happy you agree or apologize I inadvertently stole your idea. Great minds think alike, apparently!

      • August 28, 2017 at 9:26 pm
        Hank Barnes says:

        It is a story that must be told from multiple perspectives!

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