How To Sell Without A Sales Team

December 07, 2018

Read 3 pieces of advice for businesses that don't have or don't believe in having a department dedicated to sales.

Selling without a sales team is a reality for many businesses, from start-ups that don't have the resources for a sales department to successful companies that feel like they don't need one.

When I co-founded TTT Studios in 2010, I didn’t think about creating a designated sales department. Now, eight years later, I still don’t want one. 

In a world where only 13% of leads convert to sales opportunities and only 6% of sales opportunities convert to deals, we have chosen to rely on other techniques to replace the standard sales team. 

In this article, I offer three pieces of advice for business leaders who refuse to subscribe to conventional sales practices. I will also argue that when business organizations focus on the big picture, sales come naturally. 

Your Employees Are Your Best Ambassadors

Every time an employee engages directly with a client, that employee acts as a member of the sales team. What an employee says matters just as much as the usability of your product. In fact, 3.6% of employee and customer referrals convert to deals, higher than any other channel of acquisition, including email campaigns, events, and webinars. 

Source: Salesforce

Referrals beat sales in both average time from lead to deal and in their average lead-to-deal conversion rate. Referrals have higher lead success because good employee interactions impact how eager a customer is to refer other potential clients. 

An employee’s network can be your connections if you provide them with the right tools to spread the word. Every employee should be a buzz agent.

A buzz agent is passionate about the company and an expert on the products or services offered. 

Focusing on culture and brand education within your company can make referrals skyrocket, which eliminates most of the need for a sales team. Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, connects his lack of a traditional sales department to the success of his whole company:

“Employees come first, and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy. That really is the way that it works, and it’s not a conundrum at all.”

Named the airline with the lowest number of customer complaints, Southwest boasts 44 years of consecutive profitability. Further, 85% of Southwest employees say they are proud to work for Southwest. High customer satisfaction demonstrates the effects of having happy employees. 

Kelleher explains how having a dedicated team who cares about the brand is the first step toward making effortless sales. 

Create Brand Awareness and Content

Forrester research shows that today’s B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a business online for every one piece of information that sales can deliver. Considering the popularity of online content, having an eye-catching web, blog, and social media presence is absolutely necessary if you’re not equipped with a traditional sales team. 

Your goal should be to make your website the go-to place for consumers seeking a product or service within your industry. This level of popularity can be achieved by curating unique and engaging content on the right social networks. 

Think outside the standard social media campaigns: Hold contests, host Instagram takeovers, or start a Medium account. Building brand awareness can extend the reach of your company and allows customers to differentiate between you and your competitors. 

It can be difficult to determine the exact point when someone needs your services, so focusing on marketing rather than conventional sales can be the key to customer acquisition. 

Be a Storyteller, Not a Seller

If you have an impactful story, it will speak for itself. In fact, a story is often more powerful than a sales team.

Paul Zak, a pioneer neuro-economist, reveals that stories are an extremely effective way to communicate key information and values from one individual to the next. Hearing a full narrative affects different parts of the brain, which makes a story 22 times more memorable than a fact.

Source: Onespot

Zak’s article, “How Stories Change the Brain,” illustrates how when stories are personal and emotionally charged, they engage more of the brain:

“By knowing someone’s story — where they came from, what they do, and who you might know in common — relationships with strangers are formed.”

Emotional stimulation explains why a compelling story can be the key to a successful sales pitch.  

According to a study on Entrepreneur, a story adds significance to a product or service that is otherwise impersonal. Stories can make people relate their own experience to the one you are telling, which makes them connect to you as a person rather than as a salesman. 

There are many ways to sell with a story. An example of a useful method is the Point, Story, Metaphor Formula. With this approach, you share your ideas by stating a message, then tell a narrative about real-life applications to prove your message. If you’re successful, your story can have a big impact on your listener. 

Make Every Moment a Time to Sell

It’s important to realize all aspects of your business should function as one cohesive unit. Seize every opportunity to make a sale, and train your employees to be advocates for your business at all times.  

You can create powerful brand awareness by perfecting the art of storytelling. Your skilled employees and impressive stories will increase your chances of making deals and improving your business. You might just find that a lack of a sales team can be an advantage. 


About the Author

Chris Hobbs is a seasoned entrepreneur and the president of TTT Studios, with over 150 clients in 20 different industries. A natural leader, Chris is known for his ability to cultivate teamwork and innovation all while delivering amazing results. This entrepreneurial drive is complemented by a passion for community and collaboration, with four years of experience serving as president of ViDIA, the Vancouver iDevelopers Industry Association. Chris also has a thorough understanding of bleeding-edge technology and project management processes, given his background leading innovation-oriented discovery sessions.