In many companies, belt tightening in recent years has resulted in fewer service specialists to assist customers after a sale has been made.
Similarly, many companies have opted to reduce the number of customer service representatives they make available to answer questions for customers. Automated systems, outsourced call centers and long wait times have become the new norm.
What this means for sellers is that the burden of service often falls on their shoulders. Some sellers resent this. Some refuse to follow through on orders, focusing exclusively on making a sale rather than following it through all the way to customer satisfaction. Other sellers overcompensate and find themselves doing all sorts of administrative tasks and service-oriented activities, barely leaving enough time to sell.
The most successful sellers over the long term are those who understand the crossover between serving and selling. They do not get caught up in these five misunderstandings that trip others up.
- You really can’t draw a line between service and sales. The lines blur, and every relevant and meaningful service activity increases the likelihood of continued sales. If you don’t serve customers, you won’t retain them.
- Service has reasonable limits. You can set boundaries by explaining to your customers what you can and what you cannot do. When you set reasonable expectations on the front end, they won’t be disappointed. And you won’t be swamped by all sorts of time-consuming extras.
- Buyers are empowered. What this means is that if you don’t provide a reasonable and clear level of service, your buyers will find someone who does. Make the service you provide a positive point of differentiation, but keep it all in balance.
- Meaningful service doesn’t usually require all that much effort or time. If you provide just one action of service, and it is highly relevant and important to your buyer, it will carry you a long way.
- If you find that you prefer doing the work related to order fulfillment, troubleshooting, production and other post-sale activities, consider that you may not be well suited to a sales position. That’s okay. Just don’t continue trying to do both jobs, because you won’t be satisfied or successful as you dilute your impact in both.
If you’re not sure what it takes to serve and satisfy your customers, why not ask them? Performing an occasional service check is a best practice. Simply say something like this “now that we’ve been working together for a while, I’d like to get your feedback on what I could be doing differently.” Accept the feedback graciously, take note of what you can change and change it. If your buyer asks you to do more than you are capable of doing, explain that. This way there will be an understanding rather than an unmet expectation that becomes a disappointment.
In essence, good selling is serving. Strike that balance, and your job will become much easier.
This blog post appears as the CONNECT! Community’s emphasis this month on sharing to connect with others. As a seller, giving and sharing with your buyers creates strong connections that lead to improved sales productivity. For our regular features on connecting with buyers, check out CONNECT! Online Radio for Selling Professionals, read DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected or participate in CONNECT2Sell Training programs. Be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Sell Blog for weekly tips and techniques that will help you become the one seller buyers actually want to talk to.