While the majority of companies recognize that social impact is valuable, few have managed to successfully integrate it into one of the most mission-critical activities: their sales strategy.
As society grapples with a pandemic, a recession and the fallout of these events, many corporations are struggling to grow profits — while others are struggling to even stay afloat. At the same time, companies are also processing the global movement in support of racial and social justice, which has catalyzed their commitments and contributions to organizations striving to eliminate institutional racism and create a more equitable future.
Now, executives are faced with two urgent tasks: setting their firm’s social impact strategy and ensuring the company has a profitable blueprint for navigating these economically uncertain times. While the majority of companies recognize that social impact is valuable, few have managed to successfully integrate it into one of the most mission-critical activities: their sales strategy. Rather than operating in separate silos, here’s a look at how companies can leverage social impact as a tool and unique differentiator in their sales process.
Social impact as a unique sales tool
All sales teams leverage negotiation tactics in order to help close new deals and retain existing customers. Yet traditionally, these methods — such as free shipping, rebates or cash discounts — benefit the buyer at the seller’s expense. Moreover, companies spend roughly 12 percent of their company revenue on marketing, which is used to generate awareness and educate prospects on the virtues and benefits of their product or service.
However, what Givewith has discovered is that social impact applied as a unique sales tool can help sellers differentiate themselves from the competition to close more deals, retain existing clients, and deliver significant business value to their buyers. In fact, using social impact as a sales incentive can actually decrease a company’s customer acquisition costs, considering it’s 13 times more valuable than traditional incentives such as free shipping or cash discounts, according to research by Boston Consulting Group.
How to effectively embed DEI into your company
Hear more from Ford's Director of Community Development, Pamela Alexander — on setting goals and measuring performance around justice, equity, diversity and inclusion — at Integrate '20, Nov. 9-11.
Best of all, by offering to underwrite social impact as part of your proposal or renewal, sales teams can deepen relationships with buyers by coming together to generate entirely new sources of funding for the meaningful work of nonprofits, social enterprises, and NGOs.
The value of social impact
Not only does social impact help sales teams improve win rates and customer retention, but the act of sharing the social impact with employees, consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders can generate value for various departments within both organizations. For instance, Human Resources can share the impact with employees to enhance engagement and increase retention by showing how the company is putting its money where its mouth is. The same is true for marketing departments, which are increasingly pressured to demonstrate how their company is walking the talk when it comes to social impact.
In addition to supplementing communication efforts, companies can derive value in the form of positive environmental, social and governance ESG ratings. This can help companies engage the socially responsible investment community, since these scores are often used to guide critical investment decisions.
A smarter way to do business
Considering the immense gravity of our impending social challenges, the private sector must identify ways to improve the quality of life of the communities around them. Yet we cannot ignore the fact that the very companies that society relies on are hurting from the fallout of the pandemic, too.
In a time when businesses are struggling to drive profitability, truly innovative companies are leveraging social impact sales to sell more, improve margins, and also deliver more business value to their buyers and customers — all while helping individuals and communities most in need. As we’ve seen from previous economic crises, which have shown to stunt sustainability initiatives, social impact can only be sustainable if it drives profitability. The beauty of social impact as a sales tool is that it generates shared value, which benefits all parties involved in the transaction.
The good news is that a majority of business leaders have acknowledged the fact that their company must play a bigger role in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. At the same time, driving sales and profits will always be mission critical. That’s why the most forward-looking companies are implementing strategies to ensure impact and profits go hand in hand in a post-pandemic world.