As the chief marketing officer for Oasis Turf & Tree, Adam Zellner has been tasked with advancing the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company’s sales team from a traditional cold calling operation to one that is generating more leads from inbound marketing efforts. The challenge has been to make those changes and move the company in that direction, without losing what made them great in the first place — their ability to make connections with customers and their needs. It has also been a challenge communicating the coming changes with all members of the staff.

The concept behind inbound marketing, which continues to grow in popularity, is to reach customers through helpful content and interactions that have more of a “customer service” flair than the traditional hard sales pitching style that most service businesses have always used. Instead of coming right out and pitching a service, the company might offer advice about that particular service and follow it up with a soft pitch. But that change to the company’s marketing efforts has meant blending old practices with the newly implemented concepts. Cross-training has been a major tool in making a smooth transition.

Zellner admits that it has been a work in process. He says that anyone who has worked with a developed sales team knows that change can be difficult. Patience and repetition are crucial to reaching goals and making it to the finish line.

“Our primary concern is to make sure that as we advance with the times and focus on developing our inbound marketing strategies, that we would still be able to deliver excellent customer service, answer any and all questions and find the right program for our customers,” Zellner says. “While any company will tell you that sales is a primary focus of their company, very few exceed a customer’s expectations at their very first point of contact.”

But that is the goal of Oasis — to start exceeding expectations from that very first point of contact with the customer; a time that was previously used to simply pitch a service. Now it’s being used to show the customer the kind of value that Oasis has to offer. And even if they don’t buy-in right away, the hope is that when a need arises, Oasis will come to the forefront of that customer’s mind.

“In this cross-training of our sales team we’ll be incorporating more of a customer service role,” Zellner says. “The team is able to help with different tasks such as taking over flow customer service calls throughout the day, calling past due accounts and checking in with customers at the end of the season to make sure they had a positive experience and are excited about the upcoming season. All of these things, while little, add up to a one-of-a-kind experience for our customers and that is what Oasis Turf & Tree is all about.”

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