When a company’s top producer is receiving an award – either at a national sales meeting, or some other event – it’s common to hear the other salespeople in the audience talk about how the winner opened a big account, or got to be really good at selling this or that product. One facet of their accomplishment that is rarely mentioned, however, is their ability to provide top notch customer service.
That’s understandable, but it’s also missing half of the equation.
Good customer service is good selling. Too many sales reps miss this point, and so they become very strong in opening accounts, but not as great at keeping them. That’s like water rushing from a faucet to fill a bucket with a hole in the bottom – it’s working hard, not working smart.
Here’s how to provide customer service like an award-winning sales producer:
Do the math:
Serving your existing customers isn’t as exciting as bringing in new ones. To keep you motivated, I suggest you start to think about things from a dollars and cents point of view. On average, it costs you at least five times as much to bring in a new customer as it does to keep an old one (whether you are measuring by time, or currency.) More importantly, you tend to make about two or three times as much on the second or third sale from a customer as you do the first. Get to know these numbers intimately, because they will lead you to an important conclusion…
Customer service isn’t wrapping up the last sale – it’s the beginning of the next one:
Lots of salespeople lose interest because they feel like they have already been paid, in commission, for the account order. Not so. Whether it’s a follow-up purchase, a bigger investment down the road, or even just a referral to a friend or colleague, good customer service is simply the beginning of the next sale. View it as an activity that gains you clients and commissions, and you might find you have more energy for the task.
Another misconception about customer service is that it’s all about solving problems. Sometimes, that’s the case. Just as often, however, top producers don’t wait for their customers to need them; instead, they think ahead about what their clients are going to want or require in the future, and then give it to them beforehand. If that sounds like a lot of work and attention to detail, then you’re right. That’s why so many sales reps don’t do it, and why it can make you stand out above the crowd.
Stay ahead of bad news:
One of the best ways to provide good service is by simply avoiding one of the biggest mistakes: hiding from your clients when you have bad news for them. Rather than ducking their calls and hoping they will go away, try to take the opposite approach – stay ahead of the news and make sure it from comes from you first. No one is going to want to hear that there is a problem with their order or account, but they’ll respect you for showing up with the news yourself. By proving that you are someone who can be relied on, you separate yourself from the legions of other salespeople who don’t have the backbone to have the toughest conversations.
Customer service doesn’t have the flash or glory of opening big accounts, but in the long run, keeping the buyers you have is even more important than finding new ones.