Whether you realize it or not, you’re in sales in one form or another.

I have heard truck drivers say, “No way am I in sales.” I have told them that they see our customers more than the salespeople do. The truck drivers are the face of the company.

How do your drivers come across to your customers? It is an important question. I have had customers tell me they love our drivers and are friends with them. I have heard the reverse, when the customer claims a driver is lazy, never brings a dolly, and has a very poor attitude. Which customer do you think I have a better chance with when I have to push through a price increase?

The drivers set the tone. It is important for them to know this, but few warehouse managers realize how important the driver’s role is to our success. Drivers can resent being trained by the sales staff, so it’s important to try and sell this concept to your store and warehouse managers.

Everyone who interacts with the customer affects the customer’s experience. If the phones ring forever, a machine answers, or — worse — a customer service representative picks up and rudely barks out a greeting, it all affects the customer’s buying experience. I am a darn good salesman, but it doesn’t matter how well I do my job if the service downstream is substandard. If this is the case, my sales growth will slow as I spend all my time trying to smooth out bad service and work with team members to stress how important it is that they communicate with the customers.

If there is a problem with an order and someone just says, “Well, I sent an email letting the customer know we had a problem with the order. I did my job.” Really? The customer inevitably doesn’t get the message, so as far as the customer is concerned, we just dropped the ball. How can you not agree with the customer? One email is a weak effort at customer service.

It is almost impossible to grow a business when your team members don’t realize that everything they do affects whether or not you have repeat business.

I haven’t even mentioned how everyone should be trained to sell fries with the hamburger. If minimum-wage fast-food restaurant workers can be trained to sell upgrades, why can’t your staff? You see it every day in supply houses across the country: Here is your motor, but no mention of getting a capacitor.

Why don’t we sell furnaces with venting materials? We just load a box onto a truck and say “Good luck” as they drive down the street to get the rest of their supplies. We should never sell just a furnace. It makes no sense to me, but it is done every day, all over. Good luck walking into a restaurant and walking out with just a hamburger. You are also offered a drink, fries, and maybe even a dessert, but we sell a unit that is worthless without installation materials and then watch our customers ride away.

The counter staff as well as the sales team need to realize all the opportunities for additional high-margin sales that are missed by letting this happen.

I am a big one for role-playing. The problem is that people don’t like to admit they are all part of large sales team, so sales training is uncomfortable, or sometimes the store manager will simply not allow it. You have to break through and practice. You do not want to practice on your customers.

Athletes practice their sports over and over again before the big game. Why don’t we? A basketball player takes thousands of free throws so that, when it’s crunch time, he can make it when it counts.

What about us when the VIP customer walks into the store? I would like to have him waited on by a well-trained staff that makes sure he leaves with either what he came for or, if not, a close substitute. But either way, he leaves with a smile, as he enjoyed his visit to our store.

Repetition is the foundation of learning, so some time should be spent every day discussing how we are going to take care of our customers today. What is on sale this month? Is it being mentioned and, if not, why not? Are we looking to add at least one item to every sales order? What items are the easiest to add? Who does this the best? Find out and have them help train their coworkers.

Sales is not a dirty word, nor is it only for slick, smooth-taking salespeople. Everyone is involved in the sales process. Your team has to be taught this crucial fact and understand how important their roles are in the process.

Train your team, then train them some more. The most successful competitors in your market are the ones that provide their customers with what they need. Even though a customer might have come into the store looking for one thing, he leaves with what he really needs to get the job done.

A furnace alone is worthless; don’t make your customer drive down the road to get what you can sell them. Learn why customers don’t buy these things from you. Learn to ask questions.

Turn your store into a sales organism — a living, breathing, learning, growing sales machine — and if you do, you will own the market. Grow your business or you will soon be out of business.

Happy selling.