We have worked with many clients over the years who have long-term staff in customer service roles. At some point, the company decides to add a sales component to the responsibilities of the representatives, and the sparks start to fly!
I was not hired to sell. This is not in my job description. I’m a service person, not a salesperson. Customers don’t want us pushing stuff on them.
These are the kinds of objections that management gets from staff, and many of these objections are entirely valid. For an organization to effectively pivot from purely service to service with some sales, leadership has to instill a mindset that it is possible to have a mutually-beneficial relationship with customers. It’s not just that the company benefits from the customer’s purchases. We also need to see how the customer benefits from what the company can provide.
When we were conducting a workshop with a client recently, we asked how to create mutually-beneficial relationships with customers. This is some of what they said:
- We provide them information that might save them money, such as information on rebates.
- We provide educational information and services on trends in industry, technology, regulations, policies/procedures, and other information of use to them.
- We have a loyalty program for their ongoing use of our products and services.
- We understand what they want and need, we’ve asked them about their goals, and we take action based on what they tell us.
- We know our products, so we can make sure we match up a specific need with a specific product.
- We know our services and how to fix issues quickly, so we can be very responsive to their challenges.
- We have connections with other groups within our organization and with other organizations, so if there’s something they need that we don’t provide, we know how to make that match.
- If we know something is going to be backordered, we identify it and proactively reach out to them to make an alternative offer.
Some of what the client personnel told us related to positioning yourself as an educator for customers. Some examples related to understanding your business exceptionally well so you can match their need with your solution.
Some comments related to being proactive on sharing information that might save the customer money, or being highly responsive when issues arise that might challenge them. And some of these ideas simply dealt with knowing the customer better as well as knowing where to go to meet customer needs, even if it wasn’t within your particular organization.
If part of the customer service representative’s responsibilities is to sell, make sure that the organization and staff first understand how to create a mutually-beneficial relationship.