The real issue for most people and organizations is that sellers should serve more and servers should sell more. Learn more in this article by Guy Arnold.
From my many years experience of helping people sell more through better service, I am convinced that the real issue for most people and organizations is that sellers should serve more and servers should sell more: what I mean by this is:
Sellers: no one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy!
So why do people try and sell things so hard? And why are sales people often so disliked? And why are people usually scared of ‘selling’?
The answer is that sellers try to sell, and instead should concentrate on service with the belief that: if they deliver the service well, the sales will follow. Sellers should drop trying to ‘hard sell’, stand back, understand what the customers really need, and help them achieve that, whether they buy from them or not: by doing this customers will want to buy from them and they will become great salespeople.
Servers are too often preoccupied with service:
They forget what the purpose of it is, which is to generate more sales and profits: that is the whole point of service! Servers are far too ‘service orientated’ and very often not enough ‘sales orientated’.
‘Customer service’ is often seen as ‘soft’ and ‘nice’, often dissociated with the hard world of commerce and making a profit: nothing could be further from the truth: servers need to realize that giving great customer service is fantastic, but the whole purpose of it is to generate sales and profits in the immediate and long-term.
1. The starting point is what I call the ‘customer focused mission’: everyone in every role needs to know what they are really there for:
a. Sellers: need to believe that the only way they will generate sales, in the long term, and thereby be profitable and successful, is by meeting and exceeding the customers’ needs… consistently and predictably.
Sellers so often forget this in their mad rush to make a sale and achieve budgets, and this is why sales are often unnecessarily stressful, and so badly managed.
a. Sellers need to stick to their beliefs through thick and thin, through good times and bad, and remember that they are not here to make a sale: they are here to serve the customer so well that the customer wants to buy from them now and again and again in the future (and what is more to recommend them to friends and colleagues): this is the only way to sell effectively in the 21st century.
b. Servers: tend to go into a role that requires high levels of service because they enjoy dealing with people: so often they forget the real reason why they’re there: they are an overhead that someone is paying for in order to generate turnover and profit.
If they forget this, they are in great danger of giving great service but producing very poor profits. This is why customer service often has such a fluffy and soft appearance: it hasn’t been taken to its logical conclusion!
The whole point of service is to sell more, sell up, gain business by referral and repeat trade: there is no other purpose for service in the hard world of economics.
Servers need to understand this, learn it, and integrate it into everything they do. They need to deliver great service through selling up, gaining repeat business, and gaining referrals.. and management need to support them and help them do this.
2. The customer’s real needs: both parties need to remember the customer’s real needs when they are dealing in their roles. The customer’s real needs are threefold: the customer wants, above everything else:
a. to have their life made easier or better
b. to be given attention
c. to develop a relationship of trust with the supplier
Sellers: need to remember this above all else: these are the three keys of great customer service, and sellers need to filter all of their actions through these things.
1. How often do sellers take the time and effort to consider how their product or service will make the customer’s life easier?
2. How nauseous is it when salespeople give over the top attention before they have made a sale and then ignore you afterwards?
3. How often do salespeople focus on developing a relationship of trust rather than just ‘getting a sale’?
4. And how obvious is all of this to us when we take the place of a customer, yet how often does it go out of the window when we are trying to sell something?
5. We need to get rid of our old ingrained attitudes and start learning some new, more powerful and effective habits to build long-term sales success in the new century..
Servers: need to focus on delivering the above three customer needs consistently above all else and then continually improving.. but this is not all: every service needs to have measurement and follow-up to ensure the service continues to improve, and the systems to create customer loyalty, repeat business, up selling, cross selling, and referrals.
1. Servers tend to be great at making customers lives easier or better at the time in question: but surely one of the best ways to make a customer’s life easier or better is to suggest, with integrity, other services and products that you can sell or supply that will make their lives even easier and even better?
2. Servers tend to be great at giving customers attention, but how much better would it be if they had systems and processes to continue that attention after the immediate interaction and build long term relationships that generate loyalty, repeat business and referrals?
3. Servers tend to be great at building trust, but how much better would it be if they had processes to build the trust into customer loyalty and referrals?
4. This is how customer service should be used to generate sales: but so often it stops at the outbound service to the customer and does precious little to turn that outbound service into real incremental sales and real incremental profits.. whilst the sales and marketing team work ridiculously hard to find new customers that get the same treatment: what a waste!
3. Go the extra inch: sellers and servers need to be constantly looking at what they do in order to improve, little by little, and add little extras that will generate customer loyalty, cross sales, and referrals. For full details of this habit, please see my leaflet, ‘go the extra inch‘.
a. Sellers: needs to work out ways they can continually add value before the sale, and, more importantly, after the sale to convince the customer of their genuine trustworthiness and genuine desire to ensure the customer gets the right solution to their needs. Sellers tend to be quite good at doing it before the sale but dreadful at doing it afterwards, yet afterwards is where all the extra benefit lies!
b. Servers: need to work out ways they can continually go the extra inch in their service. They tend to be very good at this with regard to the service, but very poor at it with regards turning that service into art sales, cross sales, repeat sales and referrals, yet this is where most of the benefit lies!
c. Both sellers and servers need to continually measure and review and improve everything they do so that they continue to get better.. inch by inch. Which brings us on to..
4. Measure: what gets measured gets done. So sales and service need a fantastic and powerful measure in place, reviewed obsessively and consistently, and generating continual small actions to improve the results.
a. Sellers: tend to be brilliant at measuring short-term results but appalling at measuring customer opinions which by definition will give them long-term results. Yet this is where most of the benefit lies!
b. Servers: tend to be poor at measuring almost anything! There need to be many more measures for servers. If they do measure anything, they tend to measure ‘customer opinion’ (but usually do it ineffectively): done well, this is a great measure of long-term success but a poor measure of short-term success.. and for a server to justify their wage they need both!
c. So servers need to learn some measures from sellers and implement them effectively and consistently, and sellers need to learn from servers that the only way to generate long-term success is by delivering outstanding customer experiences (and having a simple and effective measure of these experiences that will help them continually review and improve what they do).
I don’t think what I have outlined here is anything other than blindingly obvious common sense! Yet how often is it common practice, and how successful will individuals and organisations be if they started to learn and implement these ideas consistently and effectively?
The amazing thing is that doing this isn’t expensive, and isn’t that hard: it just takes some change in beliefs and some real persistence.. especially in tough times.. we can help you do this, please don’t delay: contact us today.
Not doing this is hideously expensive.. as we all know from our experience as customers.
About the Author
Guy Arnold is the developer of the “Sales Through Service” system.