In a world of increasing competition and endless options for the customer, completing the sale can be an ambitious endeavor. Couple that with the expectations that customers have of fantastic service, and it can feel impossible to meet sales goals. Luckily, there’s no need to panic. By making several small adjustments to your practice, you can deliver service that impresses your customers time and time again in your role as a sales representative.
It might seem unrelated to focus on customer service when talking about how salespeople do their jobs – after all, shouldn’t they be focused on their selling techniques to maximize impact? While selling techniques and sales-specific skills are certainly important, it’s difficult to untangle and clearly delineate the difference between providing customer service and being a salesperson. Sure, some team members in your organization may be specifically tasked with providing service to customers by:
- Answering questions
- Troubleshooting problems that arise
- Dealing with customer complaints
Meanwhile, other team members will be responsible for:
- Attracting prospective customers
- Explaining the benefits and features of the product or service
- Closing the deal
Just because this second type of team member is thought of as being part of the sales team does not mean that they can get away with delivering poor service however. In fact, we know that, according to Microsoft, 56% of people report having ended a business relationship with a company because of a poor service experience. Any experience that a customer has with an employee of your organization will shape their perception of the company and influence their likelihood to do business with you again.
Similarly, it’s also well-established that consumers love to tell their family and friends about experiences they’ve had – especially when they’re negative. In fact, 92% of consumers say that they trust referrals from people they know, according to Annex Cloud. This means that any poor service interactions that a customer has is unlikely to impact only the organization’s relationship with that single customer.
Small adjustments with big impact
Even those employees who are not directly responsible for “typical” customer service tasks (like complaints and troubleshooting) have an important role to play in ensuring customer satisfaction and, in turn, retention. There are several small adjustments that all team members can make to ensure that the service they’re delivering when they’re trying to close a deal represents their organization in the best way possible.
Never confirm a negative
Imagine a customer tells you that they’re hesitant to buy from you because they recently had a bad experience with your product. You might be tempted to reply “That stinks, but a few other people have said the same thing recently” to make the customer feel better about their experience. This would be a huge mistake though. Reinforcing a negative has an unfavorable impact on the sales process.
Cementing their negative feelings or statement about anything to do with your company or product will only reinforce their opinions and will surely eliminate any potential sale. Rather than confirming a negative, ask the customer further questions about the experience or opinion they’re describing. It’s very possible that with a bit of sincere interest and care, you can salvage the relationship.
Upgrade one-word answers
If you’ve ever been in a conversation with someone who is only giving one-word answers in response, you’ll be well aware of the annoyance and frustration that this can cause. So it's surprising that there are still so many sales representatives that use one-word answers when speaking with prospective customers.
Just as in a conversation with a friend, a one-word answer completely blocks the conversation from progressing. It also comes across as abrupt and unfriendly, even if that isn’t the intention. While some customer inquiries or statements could be fully responded to with a single word, there is always a way to make your answer more complete and, therefore, friendlier.
The easiest way to do this is by putting the single word that holds the answer to the question into a longer phrase. Rather than simply replying “two” when the customer asks how many downloadable files come in their order, instead, you could say, “There will be two downloadable files in your order, and if you need more, I’d be happy to arrange this for you.” This is an easy change, but it projects professionalism and care to the customer.
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