Focus on This Often Overlooked Factor to Boost Sales and Profitability Now more than ever, it's critical for your business to stand out where it counts.

By Steve Arizpe

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

To many, company culture is associated exclusively with the internal environment of a company — one that affects employee morale, engagement and productivity. In fact, its effects go far beyond that, serving as an extension of the brand to audiences in the marketplace, both in the business community and in the general public. With the proper positioning and direction, a culture genuinely based on a company's mission and core values can be leveraged for operations related to these external groups.

Embracing and weaving key attributes of the company culture into sales efforts and service operations can be a unique way for entrepreneurs and business leaders to seize opportunities and stand out in the crowd. When this culture is utilized as a tool during the sales process and through ongoing client service and retention efforts, it can have a dramatic impact on profitability.

A family-like environment

It's no secret that people spend more time on the job than they do with their own families, and so companies with a great culture typically display the characteristics of a close-knit family, such as genuine care, concern, respect, trust and appreciation for one another. This family-like culture also resonates with consumers/businesses, as more and more express a desire to be associated with companies that embrace the human side of business. Extolling the benefits of being part of this kind of extended family/culture can be a differentiating factor in a competitive landscape; people have an essential need to belong, after all.

Related: How to Better Manage Corporate Culture During Times of Transition

Fostering such an environment within the sales process is not only a great place to start, but it should also come naturally for sales consultants, who are already ingrained in the corporate culture and tend to display positive qualities in their day-to-day activities. When employers take care of their people by cultivating a healthy and positive culture, it translates during external interactions; with the help of additional guidance and marketing materials provided during training sessions, sales consultants should be equipped to effectively communicate and exhibit it.

Some ways to demonstrate this throughout the sales process:

Reach out in an authentic and friendly manner, offering care and concern for an owner's business.

Become a trusted advisor whom business leaders can rely upon to discuss critical issues and concerns.

Display respect by being punctual for calls and meetings, dressing professionally, being prepared and asking intelligent questions.

Demonstrate empathy by being attentive to issues that keep business owners up at night, then by offering solutions.

Follow through on all promises in a timely manner, including requests for additional information, scheduling follow-up calls, explaining next steps, etc.

Show appreciation by sending special company-branded gifts, giving personalized gift cards or simply by buying lunch.

Stay in touch after they become clients with periodic emails/calls/networking events.

When sales consultants incorporate these family-like qualities and behaviors in selling activities, potential clients have a clear understanding of the company's DNA as well as what they can expect ongoing.

Related: The Golden Rule of Networking: Stay in Touch With Your Clients

Turning ideas into action

Regardless of which adage you embrace — whether "practice what you preach," "walk the talk" or "lead by example" — putting this culture into action is critical to ongoing client service and retention efforts. Following through on expectations set during the sales process can have a dramatic impact on numerous fronts, including the overall client experience, renewals, referrals and the business's reputation as a whole.

Welcoming new clients into the fold should be a seamless process conducted by the service team, one that reaffirms their decision. Capable customer service professionals typically have the personality and innate ability to do this well — to serve others in a pleasing manner to accomplish company goals, exuding the characteristics of a family-like culture in their daily interactions.

When business leaders reinforce the importance of living this culture and offering suggestions for incorporating it into all client relations, service team members will be better positioned to mirror it during every phase of client relations.

Ways teams can put this ideal into action:

Establishing a clear understanding of the client's business to demonstrate knowledge and respect.

Being available and responsive, which promotes trust.

Checking in periodically to show genuine care and concern.

Hosting client appreciation events, such as providing breakfast or lunch for them and their employees.

Offering client networking events or roundtables to help them build their businesses with members of your extended corporate family.

Related: Measuring Event ROI Is More Than a Revenue Game

Service teams that build relationships with clients stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they operate; this ensures higher client retention levels and valuable referrals for years to come.

Steve Arizpe

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

President & COO for Insperity

Steve Arizpe is president and COO for Insperity (NYSE: NSP), a leading provider of HR and business-performance solutions. He provides strategic leadership and guidance throughout the organization to ensure success for its small and mid-sized business clients.

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