Emilie Calmettes from Smarp's sales shares her insights on Employee Advocacy.
So, Employee Advocacy. If you are a regular subscriber to this blog or simply follow Smarp, you are probably aware of what this means. The word has been out for a little while now, but when I applied to Smarp half a year ago for a sales position, despite being much of a marketing enthusiast, I had never heard of it.
Counting my experience in months now, rather than weeks, I can agree that Smarp is a safe home for the startup mentality I was looking and hoping for; a healthily growing company that has managed to keep things small and simple. It is easy, in a young company, to be who you’d like to be and being trusted to do what you’re good at. It is easy to keep your life balanced when there is so much flexibility. We are all “in this together” with one big word in mind: Growth. And I hope this won’t change.
The "Wow" When Stuff Works Out
Working in a growing industry that didn’t exist a few years ago is no walk in the park. For every corporation that relies on us to make massive changes in their company to fit the digital world, we need to improve subsequently and rethink ourselves. We represent change, and helping people achieve their transformation goals means staying on top of the next trend or, in our case, shaping it.
You gotta like the “wow” when stuff works out. When you are following a new idea, the fun part is that you don’t know for sure if it’s a good one. When you have been following it for a longer time, you start seeing proof everywhere that you are headed in the right direction. Don’t let it fool you: this is called confirmation bias. What you really need is for someone else to demonstrate it to you. Well, today again a customer sent us their data for website traffic before and after they started using Smarp; real numbers, no hidden percentages. A big smile was stuck on my face for a while, as I realized that I was looking at the direct result of our work. It’s what gives meaning to what we do.
Including Education Into Sales
If you work in sales, entering a new industry puts the job in a different perspective. Try selling a pen. It’s a great pen. Any prospect who you’ll approach knows what a pen is, they have used one before, they know what kind of benefits it has and, last but definitely not least, they know if they currently need one. I am not saying that your job as a salesperson will be easy; it’ll be difficult to demonstrate new features or have your prospect change their mind about a specific type of pen they dislike. There is no(t much) space for discovery in their purchasing journey.
Indeed, a full part of my day is something the pen shop salesperson’s job description does not entail: education. None of the prospects I am reaching out to can be expected to know about Employee Advocacy, and even less about Smarp as a solution. Catching someone’s attention around a topic they have not considered before requires in itself quite a different set of skills than selling it to a person well versed on the subject. And as genuine awareness only grows with the number of providers in the market, we needed to find an alternative solution to create interest.
This we also did: catching the attention of companies is my current job. I don’t get involved in the final stages of the buyer’s experience (negotiation, sale and after-sales support) – instead, we have a team focusing on raising awareness amongst promising markets. Based on the solid ground our Marketing colleagues are providing, we get in touch, we explain, discuss, and answer questions not only on our specific product but more generally on the different aspects of an Employee Advocacy initiative. As our Customer Success Manager Andy brilliantly demonstrated in his recent post, there is much more to this than a simple tool. It’s an interesting journey all in all, which gets us deeply involved in current challenges revolving around engagement, employer branding and communications in general.
Yet being part of something new doesn’t end at the end of my sales day.
No Employee Advocacy Handbook
A startup is an ongoing project without a due date. There is always room to go one step further and a need for improvement. Succeeding as a startup in a new industry requires following guidelines you don’t know about. There are a couple of good calls you can make, but no research to help you figure them out. You have to work differently; listen to your very own customers first, make some bold guesses, but also trust in your people and the skills they can bring to the table.
I’m not talking about fancy degrees (believe me, I have one) or even specific technical skills, but rather about a natural sense of what is right. Any Smarp employee turns from time to time into a translator, UX tester, market researcher or even, say, content writer.
The way I see it, you should speak up and you’ll be given the chance to defend your ideas. And remember that when you are following a new idea, the fun part is that you don’t know for sure if it’s a good one.