Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning from the Marines

By Virgil R. Carter

Is it possible that your non-profit organization may learn to be a more effective and successful organization?  If so, where might one look for lessons learned?  Try the U. S. Marines!  A basic philosophy of the Marines is “every Marine is a rifleman”.  At boot camp, every Marine receives training in marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat and teamwork.  Regardless of where s/he winds up in the Corps—as a mechanic, lawyer, clerk, pilot, dentist or tanker—every Marine is prepared and expected to apply their combat training whenever it’s required. 
Non-profit organizations may benefit from creating a culture similar to the Marines; training all employees with basic marketing and sales skills that can help the non-profit to grow and succeed with its members and customers.  “Every Employee a Sales Rep” may be a culture that would be beneficial to be engrained throughout a non-profit’s work force, from reception desk to the corner office.
In a recent article entitled “What the U.S. Marines Can Teach Your B2B Firm about Marketing & Sales, by Gordon G. Andrew, published in, Andrew says, “Regardless of their title, job description or capacity to work the room at a social event, every executive and staff member should be given training, tools and ongoing support that empowers them to do the following:”

·         Manage Their Personal Brand –Individuals join nonprofits and/or become customers often through a personal contact or reliable referral.  Thus, every employee should be encouraged to participate in activities unrelated to the non-profit organization, whether that’s membership in a local organization, their daughter’s soccer team or a fly fishing club.

·         Articulate the Firm’s Value Proposition – Many employees, even at the senior level, do not have a clear understanding of what makes their organization different from the competition, and are at a loss to provide a compelling reason why someone should participate with them. Like a good marine, every employee should know their organization’s “elevator pitch,” and be prepared to recite it whenever someone asks, “So…who do you work for?”
·         Nurture Their Professional Network – Every staff member has a network of current and former members, associates in other disciplines, friends, relatives, neighbors and individuals they’ve met at conferences or social events.  Maintaining direct and regular contact with their personal network may often lead to future referrals for organizational membership, goods and services.
·         Drive Top-of-Mind Awareness – The marketing challenge for most non-profits is finding new members and customers, as well as retaining existing ones. To increase their odds of success, non-profits must constantly sow seeds with members, customers, prospects and referral sources, driving top-of-mind awareness regarding the firm’s value-added capabilities and credentials.  It’s difficult to be convincing if communication is limited to only when renewal time rolls around.

·         Sell Intrinsically – Because an organization’s staff embody the firm’s intellectual capital and deliver its services and solutions, they are best prepared to demonstrate to prospects and customers the organization’s capacity to add value, which is its most powerful sales tactic.

·         Seek Cross-Selling Opportunities –Organizational staff are in the strongest position to recommend new services or an expansion of existing work, based on their communications and contacts with members and customers.

·         Ask for Referrals and Suggestions – This is a tough task for most non-profit staff. However, if they’ve nurtured their network, gained confidence by learning how to cross-sell to existing members and customers, and have rehearsed the referral request process, then staff can make this a painless routine.

With commitment, training and tools it’s possible to achieve “Every Employee a Sales Rep” and to create an effective organization-wide culture in support of your non-profit organization.  You can thank the Marines!

No comments: